Timeform Previews : Golden Eagle, Coolmore and Victoria Derby

The Racing and Sports Timeform Team have run the eye over Saturday’s features.

Timeform Preview - Golden Eagle

ALLIGATOR BLOOD with Trainer: DAVID VANDYKE after, winning the Kennedy Australian Guineas
ALLIGATOR BLOOD with Trainer: DAVID VANDYKE after, winning the Kennedy Australian Guineas Picture: Racing and Sports

A capacity field is set to face the starter in this Saturday's Golden Eagle, headed by Group 1 winners Alligator Blood  and Funstar .

Rated 123 and 117 respectively by Timeform, both horses haven't be able to reach those peaks this time in, but both look well placed on Saturday.

Alligator Blood has always been set for this and after closing off well fresh over an unsuitable trip, he improved to run 118 in the Silver Eagle.

FARNAN winning the Longines Golden Slipper.
FARNAN winning the Longines Golden Slipper. Picture: Steve Hart

He never really looked entirely comfortable in that event, but in the end was only narrowly beaten.

A winner of nine of his 14 starts, he has only missed the money once in his career when failing as favourite in the All-Star Mile.

Away from that he has been a model of consistency, at a level which leaves him well placed on Saturday.

The step up to 1500m should suit and he should be right at his peak third up.

The big question mark for him will be the likelihood of a heavy track.

He has only seen a rain affected track once, which came when leading throughout in the C S Hayes Stakes.

While it was raining during the race, it was far from a wet-track and it remains up in the air whether he will handle it.

The wide draw conversely looks a plus as it should keep him out of trouble and out onto the fresh ground.

At his peak he looks to hold an edge on his rivals and if up to that level on Saturday, he is the one to beat.

The Chris Waller trained Funstar has only won once since winning the Flight Stakes last year, but gets her preferred conditions on Saturday and arguably brings the best form.

While no match for her sparring partner Probabeel in the Epsom, her effort finishing second was still very good and leaves her well placed.

Following the exact same preparation as stablemate Kolding  last year, she has been kept fresh (28 days) with a soft trial in-between.

The wide draw results in us getting a better price and with a bit of luck early she is sure to make her presence felt with Berry taking over.

The Grant and Alana Williams trained Superstorm  has had a disjointed preparation, but certainly has the talent to be right in the finish.

Rated 119 by Timeform, his form ties in well with Alligator Blood and he showed he was back on track last start when third in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap.

He's never really been tested on a rain affected track, however being by Sebring, you'd be surprised if he didn't handle it.

The wide draw sees him get a fair way back, but he should be very strong late.

The James Cummings trained Colette closed off well in the Epsom last start and no doubt she is an absolute duck.

The drop back in trip is some query as she is better over further, however the testing conditions should play into her hands.

Her Oaks win last season sees her rated 113 and while she still has to improve to beat the top three, she shouldn't be far off.

Timeform Preview - Coolmore Stud Stakes

Farnan  heads up the Timeform ratings leading into a very tricky edition of the Coolmore Stakes for punters with question marks over several of the leading chances. 

No horse is more confusing for punters than the Golden Slipper winner Farnan who will be out to become the first since Sepoy in 2011 to follow up the Golden Slipper with success in the Coolmore.

Farnan is rated a racing-topping 122 courtesy of his two-year-old exploits but he was well below that level when resuming in the Run To The Rose in controversial circumstances.

There he set off and led at a strong gallop before tiring in the run home with jockey Hugh Bowman accused of going to fast. A study of the sectionals showed that Farnan didn't hang about but that he was entitled to kick on more than he did and was certainly not at the peak of his powers on the day.

A pair of setbacks since then have seen him miss running in the Roman Consul and the Everest – an infection followed by bruising to a foot stopping his campaign in its tracks.

Now he turns up, 49 days on, hoping to recapture his best. He has trialled and jumped out well and we know that at his best he is good enough to win this race. Now all we need is faith…

The second highest rating in the race belongs to Anders – another that has had setbacks and will require some faith from punters heading into Saturday.

Anders blistered around Rosehill to win the Rosebud, beating subsequent Golden Rose/Caulfield Guineas winner Ole Kirk, before beating another good subsequent winner in Peltzer in the San Domenico.

A setback put the slows on his campaign before a lacklustre return in a three-horse Blue Sapphire  where he got racing a long way out and had nothing left in the finish of a quirky race.

How much weight do we put into that one slow-finishing race – especially when things are sure to pan out so differently here? Not much is our guess – the 119 rated Anders looks a terrific chance on Saturday.

Wild Ruler is hot on his heels rated 116 and off a faultless preparation. He looks the solid mark in the field.

Four horses have come through the Roman Consul to win this race in recent times and while Wild Ruler hardly won a vintage edition of that race he did it well and deserves strong consideration on in the Coolmore.

Eleven fillies have won the Coolmore, the most recent being Sunlight in 2018, and September Run sits at the pointy end of the betting for the girls in 2020.

Sunlight went into the Coolmore rated 116 whereas September Run is rated 108p, so she has ground to make up on the better performed horses here, but she has finished quickly in both of her Flemington wins in the lead up and looks to have more to offer. She is clearly well suited by the course. 

Swats That  ran well behind September Run before winning a pair of Group Threes and looks sure to run well again – for all that her class looks fully tested this time.

Glenfiddich  is rated 115 and clearly has a big motor, but he appears stretched back to 1200m off a little setback of his own, and Doubtland is rated 112 after winning the Danehill at the course and distance but failed to build on that last time and plenty more looks sure to be asked of him now.

Timeform Preview - VRC Derby

The 2020 Derby looks a weak year judged on pre-race ratings, but with several lightly raced candidates bred for the job, it does appeal as a Derby that could go on and prove a strong one post-hoc. 

Timeform ratings show just two horses rated over 100 going into the contest – well down on what is typical – and they are headed up by the 111-rated Cherry Tortoni.

Cherry Tortoni  won the Vase and won it well last week, beating the Super Impose winner Khoekhoe in a good contest with a big margin back to third. It was a strong performance and one that earns him the role of standard bearer in the Derby.

He's not assured to stay the longer trip but he ran out 2040m in testing ground last week and with seven starts under his belt, including two recent ones over 2000m+, he has the best seasoning in the field and that is seen as a plus.

That is the query for most around the talented Young Werther who arrives in the Derby at just his third start having missed the Vase on account of the soft ground.

He may not have the seasoning off Cherry Tortoni but he does look to have the talent to match him having been hugely unlucky not to have beaten Khoekhoe at Flemington last time when held up for a run in the straight.

He charged when clear but missed there, earning a Timeform rating of 101p.

Despite having had just two starts he is one of the two in the field with a rating higher than 100 and he did it without any luck at all. It's not hard to reach the conclusion that he is every bit a match for Cherry Tortoni in terms of talent.

Going from 1800m to 2500m after a month off the scene at just your third career start may not be conventional, particularly in this part of the world, but the Danny O'Brien stable have adopted the 'if you can't beat them join them' approach and we are seeing great success with middle distance horses from the stable campaigned more in line with international standards. 

Russian Camelot  won the South Australian Derby third up, coming off a mile run and a setback, in the autumn – so the stable know what they are doing and they have another promising one in Young Werther.

The Caulfield Classic was a low-rating heat in 2020, less than a length covered the first five across the line, and Albarado was able to win it with a rating of just 99.

That tight finish was packed with improvers though, all lightly tried and bred to get over more ground.

Potential over performance – as this Derby appears to be.

Albarado  must be respected for a stable that have won this race with similar in the past, but the real improvers out of that race appeal as Hit The Shot and Redwood Shadow.

Redwood Shadow was up sharply in class at just his third start there and stood right up to the test.

He can improve again and so too can Hit The Shot who finished better than any and looks sure to relish getting out to 2500m for a stable that are also bringing a European twist to Australia – one with a famous European name – Cumani.

Matt Cumani is getting good results out of his Ballarat base which is becoming something of a hub for strong stayers these days. The facilities clearly play to his strengths, and the strength of the horses that it produces with the numbers regularly highlighting that strength.

Derby winners will come from that Ballarat base, that seems assured, and they may come as soon as Saturday with Hit The Shot looking a genuine contender over the longer trip.

Racing and Sports