SPRINT ATTRACTIVE FOR TARA
If you need an example of the benefits of VOBIS Gold, look no further than the options available to sprinters at Caulfield this Saturday. There are two races on the program for open-age speedsters; the 1100m Bel Esprit Stakes or the 1200m VOBIS Gold Sprint.
The former is the day's Listed event, worth $120,000, but that is less than half the value of the VOBIS Gold Sprint, a set-weights event which is one of many rich races on the program open only to paid-up members of the VOBIS Gold scheme.
Tycoon Tara is a great example of how attractive the latter is to highly-rated types. The Peter and Paul Snowden-trained mare, a 108-rater, is the highest-rated runner at the meeting but gets in with 57kg and receives 2kg off each of her male rivals. Had it been a handicap she would have been spotting 1.5kg to the next highest-rated runner, Thermal Current (who has 59kg on Saturday) and at least 5.5kg to all other runners.
Had she run in the Bel Esprit Stakes, which, admittedly would have been unlikely given she resumed over 1200m, she would have got 0.5kg off Mahuta and spotted weight to all other runners. Faatinah (59kg), Kaepernick (58.5kg) and Rageese (58.5kg) are the other 100-plus raters engaged with O'Malley, Petits Filous, Legless Veuve and Rocket Tommy among those on the 54kg limit.
MICHELLE PAYNE'S RETURN
The VOBIS Gold Sprint will signal the return of a famous face to the Saturday metro circuit with Michelle Payne to reunite with the Henry Dwyer-trained Lucky Liberty in what will be her first ride in Melbourne since partnering Shakespearean Lass in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate.
That February 25 outing was one of only five rides in Melbourne this year for the Melbourne Cup winner, who has been concentrating on training her own growing team of gallopers since taking out her trainer's licence last year.
FRONTING UP AGAIN
You can't exactly run a VOBIS Gold feature without Burning Front and the scheme's poster horse will go around in the $250,000 VOBIS Gold Mile.
The 1600m event carries a $137,500 winner's cheque and if the Darren Weir-trained warrior collects that he will take his earnings beyond $1 million. He has so far earned $947,210, more than one-third of which - $322,750 - has been amassed solely in legs of the VOBIS Gold Race Series. The Primus six-year-old has won four of his five starts in the series, the VOBIS Gold Star in 2016 and 2017, this year's El Dorado and the 2015 VOBIS Gold Bullion, having finished second in the latter last year.
Is also a set-weights event, so like Tycoon Tara the gelding gets in well and will carry the same weight as all rivals bar Manageress, who gets a 2kg mares' allowance, despite boasting at least 16 ratings points (the equivalent of 8kg) more than all of his rivals.
SIRES A CHANCE FOR BUMPER PAY DAY
An added feature to this year's VOBIS Gold meeting is the introduction of the Sires, a 1200m event for two-year-olds which will be run for the first time, and arrives with a bang given it has the biggest purse for the day - $300,000.
That makes it the second-richest juvenile race run in Victoria, behind the $1.5 million Group 1 Blue Diamond, and presents a golden opportunity with just four of the 18 acceptors (16 plus two emergencies) having won a race.
They are Adelaide winner Kronos and Spiritual Girl, Bendigo maiden winner Pure Scot and last-start Cranbourne maiden winner Woman In Red. The race contains five first-starters; Mick Price's Silverhawk, Miss Skepitcal (Matthew Brown) and Wanted Diva (Lindsay Park), plus the two emergencies Vivendi (Ellerton/Zahra) and Mount Horeb (George Osborne).
FIRST CITY RUNNER FOR JACKIE BERIMAN
Payne is not the only woman who holds a dual licence who will be in action on Saturday, with Jackie Beriman to start Miss Cavatica in the $250,000 VOBIS Gold Heath (2000m).
It will be the first city runner for the 22-year-old, who gained her trainer's licence late last year. Miss Cavatica provided Beriman with her maiden victory as a trainer when she won at Cranbourne on March 31, with Beriman aboard.
That is one of nine top-five finishes from just 11 starters for Beriman. She has also had two second placegetters and finished third four times, plus a fourth and a fifth.
MARATHON STARTS THE CARD
The Heath is the longest race for the VOBIS Gold runners on Saturday, but it is half the distance of the day's longest event. The $80,000 JRA Marathon Series Final is the longest flat race conducted on a Victorian metropolitan track.
The 4000m, well, marathon, has attracted a small field of seven, and weights raised 3kg, leaving Like A Carousel as the 58kg topweight. It presents the Ken Keys-trained gelding with his best chance to get into a top-three position since his last placing, which came in the Sydney Cup (3200m) just over two years ago.
Racing at Caulfield on Saturday, picture Thoroughbrednews