Saturday, 12 November 2011
: This afternoon's renewals of the Group 2 Zipping Classic and Betfair Sandown Guineas will bring down the curtain on another highly successful Melbourne Carnival.
| Americain wins the Moonee Valley Cup|
Photo by Racing and Sports
The former Group 2 Sandown Classic (2400m) run for the first time as the Zipping Classic in honour of the grand stayer Zipping who took the last four renewals brings together a small but quality line up.
It presents as a rematch between three Melbourne Cup runners, Americain
who will tackle Cup eve scratching Mourayan
and new comer Lamasery
under weight for age conditions.
The warm favourite and deservedly so on Timeform
ratings is 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain who powered home late in last week's Cup for an eye catching fourth just a length and a half behind fellow French galloper Dunaden.
Americain has raced four times this preparation and came to Australia on the back of an unlucky, but below par run in the Kergorlay at Deauville in August.
Two back he looked highly impressive disposing of his rivals that included Tullamore and Illo in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup over 2500m running to a Timeform rating of 124, just below his 126 master rating recorded in last year's Cup win.
The ease of the Moonee Valley Cup win around the tight turning circuit prompted many to declare him the horse to beat in last week's Cup. And they were not far off the mark.
Under handicap conditions and shouldering 58kgs, Americain got a long way back early. Still near last with 400m to travel, once rider Gerald Mosse got him into clear running, Americain motored home late making up several lengths to finish a close up fourth, running to a new Timeform master rating of 129.
If he takes that level of performance into the Zipping Classic today which is under weight for age conditions then he should not be beaten.
The history of Zipping Classic winners in the last ten years reveals that five of the last ten winners have come through a gruelling Melbourne Cup run at their start prior.
So that should not be a problem for the classy French stayer, nor should the prospect of a forecast heavy track.
I notice Americain will again wear concussion plates, the gear he wore to win the Moonee Valley Cup two runs back. With regular rider Gerald Mosse returning from his Hong Kong base to ride Americain, I see no reason why he will not run close to his best form this afternoon.
The main danger on Timeform ratings looks to be the Lloyd Williams owned imported galloper
Mourayan who posted his maiden win in Australia two starts ago in the Bart Cummings over 2500m at Flemington. Prior to that victory Mourayan had raced 17 times for a string of minor placings, some in feature staying races like the Group 1 BMW (2400m) at Rosehill last Autumn.
Incidentally Williams also owned Zipping so no doubt he will be a sentimental favourite for the race with punters.
However on current Timeform ratings, Mourayan rates to 120 so on raw figures alone he has some to find if the inform Americain turns up.
That said Mourayan does appeal as the likely leader in the small field and if the race becomes a victim to tempo, which it could easily do being a small field, then Mourayan under Hugh Bowman may steal it.
Mourayan burst into Melbourne Cup calculations after his Bart Cummings victory in slow ground and then confirmed that standing with an impressive second to Glass Harmonium in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on Derby day.
It was unfortunate that Mourayan shifted a plate in the Mackinnon run that eventually led to him being lame and then scratched from last Tuesday's Cup.
A query is how much track work that lameness may have caused Mourayan to miss but one has to assume he will be fit and ready to peak this afternoon.
On that basis Mourayan looks the only danger to Americain.
UK galloper Manighar (Timeform rated 119) and Saptapadi (115) look to have the job ahead.
The Luca Cumani-trained Manighar has raced well in Australia during the Spring Carnival for the last two years rating to around 119 in both campaigns but he still remains a maiden here.
In fact, it is 770 days since his last win and perhaps he has forgotten where the winning post is.
Last year Manighar finished third in the Zipping Classic but at his last two runs in Australia has been fourth and fifth in the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups respectively. So his form has not been all that bad, but he still finds it hard to break back into the winners circle.
Also under the weight for age conditions today compared to handicap conditions of both Cups, Manighar is not well placed at the weights.
For example on their Melbourne Cup meeting, he meets Americain four kilos worse at the weights for finishing over a length behind that galloper.
On weights and measures alone, Manighar looks safely held by the aforementioned gallopers.
Enjoy what is sure to be a great tactical race.
The Betfair Sandown Guineas run under set weights for three-year-olds has assembled a large field but not many genuine chances.
Race favourite Galah looks set to continue the excellent record of trainer Peter Snowden in the Group 2 event.
Snowden has saddled up two of the last three winners (Caymans 2008, Kidnapped 2009) and was runner-up last year with Chasse.
Galah has been in sensational form this campaign winning all three runs since a spell culminating in a hard fought narrow win last time out in the Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Cup day running to a Timeform rating to 115.
Interestingly the Carbine Club Stakes lead up form is exactly the line used by Snowden with his two previous winners.
Despite winning, on face value he looked a shade disappointing however rider Kerrin McEvoy stated after the race that he may not have appreciated the addition of winkers to his gear.
I note Snowden has elected to remove them this afternoon.
A wet track should pose no problem for Galah as he is already a winner in such conditions at Warwick Farm three runs back.
The hardest to beat look to be Derby failure Niagara (Timeform rated 114), Mahisara (112) and Highly Recommended (107).
However history is against Niagara as no Sandown Guineas winner in the last 20 years has come off Derby form. Against that is the fact he did not stay the distance and is trained by champion Gai Waterhouse.
A most promising type, Niagara is bound to be getting home late.