Sep 21, 2018 08:41 AM
Author: James Beeson
Caulfield Cup golden ticket & Cox Plate contenders
Grade Group 3
Track Rating Good 4
Class Quality (no maidens)
2017 winner Harlem ($8)
Historically, the Naturalism Stakes gives us an excellent guide to the hopes of this year's Cups and Cox plate contenders and will often provide the pivot point for which direction they choose to ultimately target.
This year's edition again features a number of runners that could go either way, depending on the style of run they put in on Saturday.
The winner is ballot exempt for the Caulfield Cup, whilst those showing a dynamic turn of foot back in the field will head towards Moonee Valley's biggest feature, the Cox Plate.
Tempo will be crucial, and the rail being out 9m at Caulfield adds plenty of intrigue in this regard.
Race Caulfield Track Traits
For the latest insight into how the Caulfield track is expected to play,
read our preview of the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes here.
Racing Market Movers
Not a huge amount of interest here in early betting, with race favourite
Night's Watch easing slightly to $3.50 from an opening quote of $3.40.
#1 Folkswood $6
Has excellent form from last preparation in Dubai, where he won at Group 3 level and was not disgraced in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta behind a smart one in Benbatl.
He is also proven here locally, after winning last year's Cranbourne Cup and placing in the Cox Plate.
This looks a nice race for him, and whilst he must lump top-weight of 59.5kg, it appears he deserves every ounce of it and can still run well. Leading hope.
#5 Our Venice Beach $8
Was impressive on debut in Australia at Moonee Valley, where he raced in the first few and chased hard to the line when placing 2 of 13.
He will again be close-to-speed, if not leading.
With the rail out 9m, that could be the place to be, provided jockeys are not overplaying the bias and all wanting to be on-speed.
If he gets it cheap out in front, he may pinch it. Top chance.
#7 Sir Charles Road $16
Kiwi raider who was well fancied in betting for the Randwick staying features earlier this year, when winning The Chairman's and placing in the Group 1 Sydney Cup.
There is plenty of speed engaged here and you could make a case that these conditions will favour the gelding if they go warp speed.
Ultimately if they don't go hard, he will struggle to run them down at this level and be better suited as the trips get longer.
Would need a hot tempo but cannot dismiss.
#10 Night's Watch $3.40 > $3.50
Carried a huge boom going into the last start 3 of 11 in the Dato Tan Chin Nam, where he was heavily backed all throughout betting to start a warm favourite.
There were some excuses on that occasion when he was forced to come wide and ridden out of his comfort zone.
He will get well back here from gate 8 as is his preferred pattern and expect there to be plenty of speed up front as jockeys ride to the bias.
The SP profile is enormous, where he has been backed for plenty at his past three starts.
Simply can't ignore the money trail and with speed map favours, he must go on top.
#16 Odeon $10
Promised the world as a 3YO when putting together a number of dynamic performances.
Since then, he's only been entered into high quality races where he's been consistently competitive. This was seen at his latest outing when he finished a close-up 5 of 11 in the Dato Tan Chin Nam.
The Ellerton/Zahra yard are not afraid to be at the forefront of horse management and they are reportedly using a number of new and unique ideas to improve performance.
Expect him to improve significantly from the Moonee Valley run and he must be considered a leading hope.
Of The Others
#13 Hiyaam put in a shocker last start when failing in the Dato Tan Chin Nam where she finished last.
She is better than that and it's best to go off her excellent first-up effort prior and an ultra-impressive Sydney campaign last prep.
Getting to 2000m here and she can atone quickly at odds. Yes.
Best Racing Tips
1 st Night's Watch
2 nd Odeon
3 rd Hiyaam
4 th Our Venice Beach