Timeform Previews : George Main Stakes/Rupert Clarke Stakes

The Timeform Team at Racing and Sports run the rule over this afternoons two group one races.

Timeform Preview - George Main Stakes

VERRY ELLEEGANT.
VERRY ELLEEGANT. Picture: Steve Hart

The ledger currently sits at three-a-piece between Verry Elleegant  and Avilius , though the Chris Waller trained mare has now beaten him home their last three meetings.

The pair clashed in this race last year with Avilius comfortably having her measure.

He was sent out the 2-1 favourite and duly saluted when sweeping home down the outside.

Verry Elleegant wasn't disgraced in fourth, but was clearly no match.

In her eight starts since, Verry Elleegant has won three and finished second on three occasions.

TAGALOA winning the Neds Blue Diamond Stakes
TAGALOA winning the Neds Blue Diamond Stakes Picture: Racing and Sports

Avilius has only placed twice, which came at the back end of his last preparation.

She has been much the better performed and hence no surprise to see the market flipped in her favour on Saturday, though there probably isn't a great deal between them.

When factoring in her mares' allowance, her peak Timeform rating is 127 (123+4), whereas Avilius is rated 125.

She has the slight edge and has drawn to settle ahead of the latter, which could be the deciding factor in the clash.

A firm track isn't her preferred ground, but she should be better suited out to the mile, second up last preparation she pushed Te Akau Shark in the Chipping Norton Stakes.

Worth noting Fierce Impact finished behind her in third, Avilius in fourth while Dreamforce finished eighth, however there were excuses for the latter.

Verry Elleegant has been a model of consistency and while only a narrow winner first up, she did a great job considering she was well short of her best as her winning Timeform rating of 114 suggests.

Expect her to show good improvement second up.

On a Cups path, this is still a long way from her Grand Final, but she brings the best form and should prove hard to beat.

Avilius did catch the eye first up and he too should improve out to the mile, but suspect Verry Ellegant will have his measure again.

The Waller pair Imaging and Star Of The Seas are both back in great order.

They lack the class of the top two, but look to be trending the right way and in the small field they shouldn't be far away.

Dreamforce could cause an upset. The George Ryder Stakes winner showed good improvement under Rawiller to win last start and looks to lead from the inside draw. In a small field with no other recognised pace, that could well end up being a major positive.

A dual 1600m earlier in his career, the slight query is a mile at this level. All the same he did run second in this race last year beating home Verry Elleegant.

Timeform Preview – Rupert Clarke Stakes

It's been 16 years since Exceed And Excel won the Rupert Clarke as a three-year-old – doing so in a race record time that still stands.

Since 2003 just four three-year-old have taken up the challenge of racing the older horses in the famous handicap. Alinghi and Charge Forward in 2004, Murtajill in 2007 and Smart Missile in 2011 have all come up short.

On Saturday, Blue Diamond winner Tagaloa  will be the first three-year-old in the best part of a decade to try his luck in the race and he promises to give it a mighty shake. 

Despite Timeform ratings suggesting he is not in the aforementioned category just yet, Tagaloa was rated 117 by Timeform following his Blue Diamond win and he backed that up with good efforts in the Todman, Golden Slipper and first up in the McNeil Stakes. All of those runs have been at 1200m and all of them have said 1400m and the mile will not only be within range but a bonus.  

Tagaloa always looked a three-year-old in the making, even winning the Blue Diamond, a championship race for two-year-olds, there was a strong feeling that it was a bonus on the way to better things as he got older.

He did enough first up in the McNeil, for all that he was beaten, a stop/start tempo hardly the ideal for him and hardly what he is likely to face on Saturday. A big field 1400m handicap around tight-turning Caulfield promises to be helter skelter and he promises to love it.

The Memsie, run over the same course and distance three weeks back, was run at a strong tempo and won by the Rupert Clarke topweight in Behemoth.

The loss of West Australian Showmanship has left the field light on for rapidly improving handicappers and that makes the task for the established stars at the top of the weights that little bit easier.

Behemoth ran to 120 winning the Memsie in fast time, and a repeat of that sort of form here should go a long way towards adding a second Group One to his mantle.

The Memsie produced the winner of this race last year in Begood Toya Mother but despite being run at the same course and distance in the spring the weight-for-ages horses and the handicappers haven't overlapped very often.

Regal Roller, a horse made for the Caulfield 1400m, won both races in 2004 and there is more than a little bit of Regal Roller about Behemoth who is drawn to get a charmed run for Craig Williams who has won the race an amazing five times.

Five is good, but six is better, and that is how many times Damien Oliver has landed this valuable handicap and he jumps onto another top chance this weekend in Cascadian.

Cascadian also comes through the Memsie where he was the best of the closers having had a less charmed run than the winner Behemoth. That is part of his make up, though, and chances are he will again be left needing to run Behemoth down, but clearly the jockey knows his way around here and if he can land in a stalking spot Cascadian has the talent to give this a mighty shake.

The other standout talent in the race is Superstorm, runner up in the Australian Guineas and the All Star Mile last season, has a Timeform rating of 119 and looks well handicapped given that.

The talent is there for him to win, but the Caulfield 1400m from a wide draw may have something to say about that.

Superstorm looks sure to be left with plenty to do, back behind a lot of horses as they turn, and while he gets the great Willie Pike to steer he is going to need plenty to fall his way to come out on top.


Racing and Sports