AURIE'S STAR FIELD SET
The Group 3 $150,000 sprint down the straight six is headlined by Group 1 winners I Am A Star and Hey Doc, but there's huge early market respect for both the in-form Cannyescent and also the fresh Grande Rosso, that pair among a Lindsay Park quartet in the 10-horse field.
BEN, BEAU AND CUZ BACK AT HQ
Last season's leading apprentices in town, Beau Mertens and Ben Allen had a well-earned Saturday off, but they're back - with four and five rides respectively. Michael Walker also has his first ride at HQ since his latest injury lay-off, having most recently competed there in January. Walker has the lone mount this Saturday, aboard the Chris Waller-trained Alward in the VRC Member Doris Theuma Handicap (2000m).
CONSECUTIVE WINNING SATURDAYS FOR LLOYD?
Five-time Melbourne Cup winning owner Lloyd Williams unleashed a few runners last week with success - Aloft - and has Crocodile Rock and Granddukeoftuscany in the 2000m race, and Kilimanjaro in what looks a pretty weak VRC Member Beverley Hogan Handicap (2530m).
WISE PLACEMENT FROM CANNON AND CO
As mentioned above, the 2530m race is an open handicap - and the dearth of staying talent has opened the door for a few wise moves from trainers. With only nine acceptors, if the lesser lights make it to the finish line, it's a free $2400 per horse for going around. Hate to not be among the dreamers aiming for the upset, but with Daryl Cannon's pair Tough Vintage and Leica Pegasus bringing up the rear on the card as rating in the 40s, and going kilo-for-kilo with 82-rater Super Haze - who won last time out at HQ - it looks to be just a race in five (I'm counting Lautaro, not Crafty Cruiser!).
SO SI BON RESUMES
Robbie Laing's versatile entire is back, first-up over 1000m, and is every chance on his straight-track form. There are not many that sprint well, then also are competitive in a Victoria Derby and Sandown Classic, so it'll be interesting to follow his progression this campaign.
TONY VASIL DOUBLES UP
So Si Bon takes on a proven straight-track specialist in 10-year-old General Truce, one of a pair of Vasil-trained runners making their way to Flemington on Saturday. Andrew Mallyon continues his association with the old boy, while Vasil's rising star colt Kedleston - still a maiden - competes in the three-year-old Benchmark 70 over 1400m, the VRC Member Raymond Ali Handicap. It's the first time Vasil's had the pair running on the same day since late November at Moonee Valley.
METEORIC RISE FOR REVLIS
Joining Kedleston as one of four maidens in the field - Confluence and Nistaan the others - is the Terry and Karina O'Sullivan-trained Revlis. I daresay no-one predicted the Delago Deluxe colt would be at HQ at start three after his debut, beaten eight lengths into last place at Echuca on July 10. On July 31 at Mildura, he also looked to be battling in the run, but then was only edged into second - as a 100-1 shot - by Danny Wizz Bang. Fair to say the camp is aiming up now - he's a nominee in the Caulfield Guineas, along with six of his nine race rivals on Saturday!
Straight sprint course at Flemington, picture ThoroughbredNEWS