by Michael Guerin
The two biggest races at Alexandra Park tonight could hardly be more different.
While both the Taylor Mile and Anzac Cup are mobile sprints worth $100,000, for punters they are chalk and cheese.
The mile, which is actually 1700m, looks a near benefit job for champion pacer Lazarus, even though he has drawn the outside of the six starters.
A two-time sub 1:50 miler this season he is expected to roll to the lead, probably from stablemate Waikiki Beach and be winning, with the All Stars looking to have a great shot at the trifecta with Golden Goddess likely to be handy as well.
So the Horse of the Year in waiting gives you an obvious anchor for Pick6 and the bonus late quaddie.
But the Anzac Cup is a whole different ballgame, with the absence of Monbet and Speeding Spur producing a rare Alexandra Park Group 1 where you could make a serious winning case for maybe 10 of the 13 starters.
The race brings together three very different groups of horses – the open class regulars like Prime Power, Realmein, Bordeaux and last-start Group 1 winner Eyre I Come against a strong bunch of emerging four-year-olds in Lemond, Temporale, High Gait and Wilma’s Mate.
Joining them will be Sunny Ruby and Great Things Happen, both returning from successful Australian campaigns, which should have them nicely honed for mobile 2200m, while comeback mare Habibti Ivy adds another dimension.
As tempting as it will be for punters to back speedsters Sunny Ruby and Wilma’s Mate, the golden rule of premier racing at Alexandra Park is try and back horses who will be handy to the speed, preferably on the markers, because at this level the leaders rarely get tired.
If Lemond had the speed to hold up from the ace he would appeal but that is doubtful, with Habibti Ivy, Prime Power and Eyre I Come all quick off the gate, with maybe Prime Power best suited to tonight’s conditions.
“It will be nice to be on the speed with him for once and I think this is his chance if he can lead,” says trainer-driver Todd Mitchell.
The $110,000 Caduceus Club Classic also has a rare open look to it, especially with unbeaten filly Elle Mac drawn wide, having her first start right-handed and having spent most of the week on the road traveling from her Canterbury home.
“All of ours have traveled well and seem fine so she and the other fillies should go well,” confirmed trainer Mark Purdon.
“But you never really know how they will handle Alexandra Park first-up under race conditions and while Elle Mac might be the best of them I am starting to think there isn’t much between them all.”
The race also has depth, with Bettor Joy looking tough winning the Delightful Lady two starts ago while Caitlyn Clarke has the all-important ace draw. This is a crop of fillies where the pecking order and Jewels favouritism could change significantly over the next month.
The night’s other group race provide Enghien with an interesting challenge on his Alexandra Park debut as the NZ Derby winner looks clearly the best of his crop but will need to be from his second line draw, with President Roydon best drawn to profit should the favourite underperform.
Away from the group races one of the big questions of the night will be whether glamour mare The Orange Agent and new driver Todd MacFarlane can give their rivals up to a 35m start in race four.
The answer is probably yes, but don’t take less than $2 to find out.
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