Victoria Derby heads four group ones in Melbourne

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November 3rd, 2017

It’s arrived – one of the great race days of the year, with multiple races at the top level, horses from around the world competing, and 80,000 people attending.

No, it’s not the Breeders’ Cup. It’s day one of the four-day Melbourne Cup carnival at Flemington Nov. 4, and with its four group one races, two group two races and three group three encounters, to many racing fans in Australia it’s better than Cup day itself Nov. 7.

The group one races kick off with the six-furlong Coolmore Stud Stakes for 3-year-olds, run down a straight course, so barrier gates don’t matter quite so much unless there’s a bias on one side of the track.

Tulip will be well fancied after finishing fourth in The Everest – ahead of fellow Coolmore Stud Stakes runner Houtzen – but unbeaten colt Viridine, Caulfield Guineas (G1) third-place finisher Catchy, Golden Rose (G1) winner Trapeze Artist, and Thoroughbred Club Stakes (G3) victor Invincible Star, and Red Anchor Stakes (G3) winner Eptimum are all ahead of them in the Australian market – and the chances don’t end there in the 20-horse field.

The one-mile Myer Classic for fillies and mares follows, with two horses with 1,000 Guineas (G1) form heading the market: this year’s runner-up Shoals, who is just the favorite, and last year’s winner Global Glamour. Silent Sedition, Foxplay, and Shillelagh are also well backed, but it’s again a very competitive race, with 16 horses running, so it’s worth looking very closely at the form.

The day’s highlight is the 1 9/16-mile Victoria Derby for 3-year-olds. Ace High (High Chaparral) is the favorite after winning the 1 ¼-mile Spring Champion Stakes (G1) in Sydney Oct. 7, but he’ll have plenty of challengers.

Stablemates Main Stage and Sully, both from the first crop of French Derby winner Reliable Man, both look likely to enjoy the extra distance, while Spring Champion Stakes runner-up Tangled, Geelong Classic winner Weather With You and runner-up Ocean’s Fourteen, and the improving Greycliffe are also right in it.

The fourth group one for the day is the Kennedy Mile, in which the main form race is the Toorak Handicap (G1) three weeks ago. That was won well by the Japanese-bred Tosen Stardom (Deep Impact), but he will have to give away more weight to some of his main rivals.

Tosen Stardom is 2kg (about four pounds) worse off compared to favorite Tom Melbourne and to the group one winner Egg Tart, though his Toorak victory was so decisive that it may not be enough to stop him. His biggest challenger may well be last week’s Waterford Crystal Mile (G2) winner Lucky Hussler.

Two other races worth watching are the 1 ¼-mile Wakeful Stakes (G2), a prep race for the Victoria Oaks Nov. 9, and the 1 9/16-mile Lexus Stakes (G3), the final chance for horses to earn a start in the Melbourne Cup. Bring Me Roses is the deserved favorite for the Wakeful Stakes, while Harlem, Aloft, and Vengeur Masque are among the horses to watch in the Lexus Stakes.