Zaaki has won his last four and each of them in dominant fashion but his place at the front of Cox Plate betting seems to largely hang on the good time he posted in the Doomben Cup - has he achieved much else?
The Tramway win received plenty of plaudits but much of that seemed to be driven by the pre-race expectation. He walked all over them but there wasn't much there. The six that have run out of the Tramway since have all been beaten and largely regressed. It's ordinary form and the Rupert Clarke looks a stronger race in which Probabeel ran about as well as any. She got better the further they went as well, so 1800m here, on the back up and sharpened up by that run, leaves her looking dangerous enough to make her a very credible rival.
A credible rival but not our best bet on the card which comes up in the Sandown Stakes, the other race moved forward to create this Sandown card earlier in the spring (a fantastic decision to give Sandown it's moment earlier in the spring in the opinion of the writer).
Cherry Tortoni looks a good favourite despite a racing pattern that has seen him win far less than one with his engine might have. He has still won five races but he really should have a VRC Derby and an Australian Guineas to his name but for hugely negative tactics in those races.
He was ridden more evenly when resuming at Flemington and was able to run by the highly-regarded Ayrton, only to be picked off by Harbour Views who re-opposes him today.
Harbour Views was a bit of a surprise winner there, resuming from a lengthy break, but he is a good horse (rated 115 by Timeform and good enough to have contested the Underwood on this day last year) and the form has a strong look about it.
Cherry Tortoni is likely to build on that warm start to the spring. He was terrific second up in a hot Stutt Stakes this time last year and the aforementioned Guineas miss was second up on the autumn. Both of those runs would go a long way to winning this and the fresh run says he is going just as well.
The third on the card is just a 1400m handicap for the three-year-olds but it may well prove stronger than last week's Guineas Prelude with the betting headed up by the fast and promising Linas Legend.
Linas Legend deserves to be favourite but at 10/1 in early markets it is Kooled that appeals as a good gamble coming off a sharp looking timefigure of his own last start.
That was at Gosford, where the margin was only fine, but it backs up a strong profile from last season where he was good enough to be sent around a fairly warm 7/2 favourite in the VRC Sires.
He didn't fire there but it might be a case of where there is smoke there is soon to be fire. The fresh win was another hint at that potential fire and 10/1 can undersell his chances of showing more again here.
THE MELBOURNE MAIL
Bet Of The Day: Race 5 #6 Cherry Tortoni @ $3.60
Each Way Play: Race 3 #9 Kooled @ $11.00