It's very much off-season fare - if there are any equine superstars on show they are well hidden - but several of the big name jocks opt to stay home and there is no bigger jock in Melbourne at the moment than Mark Zahra.
Jamie Kah has been the headline act this season (and fair enough) but Zahra has casually punched in winner at 32% across his last 50 rides and is as much of a value add as anyone right now.
The pick of his rides at Sandown in our view is Amercement, who looks ready to really put it together now after a pair of solid runs have got her right back on track after a two-run summer campaign where she failed to fire a shot.
That preparation was off a 588-day layoff so she can be excused for being a bit ring rusty and she is quite clearly a mare that has had her share of issues. She also has her share of talent and we saw that when she was a listed winner at two, winning a listed race on soft ground, and running at least as well on heavy ground when fourth in the Magic Night - which produced the Slipper winner.
That form is obviously good, but obviously old. Weighing it's relevance is the task of the punter. Her nice closing splits at Flemington in a race that should work out well at this level pointed to her being on track not to reach that level but to work back towards it and on softer going this time she looks a good gamble to do so at prices around 7/1.
Keeping on the theme of fast closing splits at Flemington three weeks ago, our each way play comes in the shape of Blue Ocean who rattled home in a slowly/fast 1800m there last time and looks a nice double figure option in race six this weekend.
He was strong winning at Caulfield two back and at least good having been left with too much to do last time. Lunar Flare flew there as well and has already stepped out and won well and while Blue Ocean isn't quite as good as that one he won't need to be to beat a fairly modest lot in the half price race of the day (that is assuming Degraves isn't the second coming...)
THE MELBOURNE MAIL
Bet Of The Day: Race 4 #9 Amercement @ $8.00
Each Way Play: Race 6 #14 Blue Ocean @ $10.00