The Kennedy Cantala Stakes is arguably the most competitive and wide-open race on the Derby Day program, with chances galore and big prices on offer.
Proven Group One gallopers Mr Quickie and Fifty Stars are set to carry 58kgs from wide draws, while classy types Cascadian, Rock and Wild Planet enter calculations due to their advantage at the weights.
Meanwhile talented geldings Nonconformist and Buffalo River look to measure up at the highest level, with only 53kgs on their backs.
The rail returns to the true position for Derby Day, after being out 7m at the last meeting here. On that day, on-pace runners were hindered due to a strong breeze which blew up the Flemington straight.
With the change in rail position and warm weather forecast, expect all runners to get their chance on a likely Good 4 surface.
Rock will look for luck up the inside from barrier 2 and Cascadian will work wide on the point of the turn to find clear air.
Analysis & Tips
1st Mr Quickie $5.50
Happy to stick with the Phillip Stokes trained gelding, who was enormous when winning the Toorak Handicap by 2 lengths with 59kgs three weeks back.
Now fourth-up and with this race identified as his Spring grand final, I expect him to take even more improvement from his run in the Toorak and be peaking over the Flemington mile.
He’s yet to miss the top 2 placings at three fourth-up attempts and I don’t expect that to change here, with the in-form Jamie Kah in the saddle again.
The only knocks on his chances are the 58kgs and outside draw, but he’s talented enough to overcome both of these challenges.
2nd King’s Legacy
The talented three-year-old put in a disappointing performance when well supported in the Caulfield Guineas last start, but I’m happy to put it down to the fact that he didn’t handle the Caulfield circuit in his first anti-clockwise race start.
I was impressed by his run two back in the Golden Rose Stakes over 1400m, when he placed behind Ole Kirk and North Pacific after rattling home from the rear in the inferior going.
He’s clearly up to this level if he recaptures his Autumn form, when he beat the likes of Ole Kirk and Glenfiddich in the Champagne Stakes over a mile.
With Glen Boss engaged and only 51kgs on his back, he’ll give a massive sight at a big price.
I’ve been with the six-year-old Godolphin gelding all preparation for no result and I’m not willing to jump off now despite his last start flop in the Toorak.
His second-up performance in the Memsie Stakes saw him clock the fastest last 200m splits of the race, after he stepped out slowly and ran the widest of all. He then backed that up with a luckless 11th in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
He’s arguably more effective with extra give in the ground, but I’m envisioning a run identical to last year’s race where he finished third when flashing from the rear at a similar price.
Now fifth-up and with $21 on offer, I’m willing to dive in each way for a horse that’s been crying out for the Flemington mile all preparation.
Another galloper with a genuine winning chance, but I’ve opted to put him in for fourth with Cascadian and King's Legacy presenting as better value selections.
His last start in the Epsom Handicap saw him clock the race fastest closing splits against the bias to finish within 2.5 lengths of star mares Probabeel and Funstar.
He maps to get a rails run and will need plenty of luck to be winning but if the gaps present I expect him to figure right in the finish.