The Melbourne Mail
The focus will be on a soggy Rosehill this Saturday but Flemington have put on a terrific punting card to go alongside the Slipper meeting.
Grand Handicaps are a new addition to the card. Grand Handicap seemingly stands for real handicap with big weight spreads ensuring highly competitive racing and, hopefully, grand punting.
The Grand Handicap over the mile brings the card to a close and looks a big chance for punters to go out on a high.
The Danny O'Brien-trained Portman is a talented horse heading in the right direction and while he came unstuck when favourite over the Flemington mile last time he did nothing to dent his reputation there.
He went into that race a month between runs and off what had been a slowly run 'kill' for him against weak opposition. Off that fairly soft base he was unable to improve last time and the winner posted a strong rating himself under a terrific ride.
There was nothing wrong with the run of Portman and he has set himself up to build on that rating now, two weeks off a solid hit out.
He'll need to do just that, in a deep and competitive Grand Handicap, but we are happy to bet up on him doing the job.
For an each way play we will stick with the Grand Handicaps and we will stick with the O'Brien stable.
The 1200m Grand Handicap is another race deep with chances but we like the price on offer about Verstappen who is a nice talent well placed second up.
He ran well first up when just missing out at the Valley first up and his ratings from his maiden prep suggest he is capable of spiking off that performance. He won two from four in his debut prep, running good figures in his wins, and the two runs where he came up short were in high pressure stakes races.
Those hot races probably came a bit too soon for him but it will be no surprise to see him prove right up to stakes level in his second prep and he can start by adding a Grand Handicap to the C.V.
The Melbourne Mail
Bet Of The Day: Race 9 #7 Portman @ $3.50
Each way Play: Race 7 #11 Verstappen @ $7.00