Chris Waller's French import Le Juge (Image: OTI Racing)
Le Juge debuts for Waller/OTI
An OTI import heading to Chris Waller? Tom Melbourne has company. This five-year-old Dansili gelding has a similar winning drought to his famed new stablemate. Le Juge strung together two wins across 2015 and '16, his last coming on March 10 last year at Chantilly. Tom Melbourne's Albury Cup victory was eight days later, and despite the latter's performances at the top level, neither have greeted the winner's stall since. Le Juge comes to Waller with relatively consistent form in France. His three tries at Stakes level have seen him beaten between three and four lengths, and he has done most of his racing between the mile and 2000-metre range. On Saturday, he steps out over 1500m with Damien Oliver aboard, but he will be one to watch regardless.
Stakes performers resume
Ken's Dream and Mogador are two more high-profile horses beginning summer campaigns on Saturday, both in the 1000m Benchmark 84. Mogador is hardly the punters' pal, suffering nine defeats when priced $5 or shorter since his most recent win back in September 2015, but Godolphin trainer James Cummings' task is to turn that around. He did run fourth in Stakes company at Grafton in the winter when a $21 shot. Meanwhile, Ken's Dream has won three of 13 starts, but is always a market fancy any time he goes to the races, despite having had six winless starts since a narrow win at Caulfield in April. But one of those defeats was a Stakes placing, and another was running second to subsequent Group 2 winner Rich Charm.
Dale Smith back in town
He's riding in town at Ladbrokes Park on Wednesday with three rides, but he makes his comeback to a Saturday metro card this weekend - the first time he'll be riding at the feature meeting of the week since July 2, 2016 (when he rode Yu Long Sheng Hui to victory). Smith has ridden eight winners since beginning his comeback in late October. With two horses booked, Smith is waiting on a run on first emergency Punt Club in the 1000m event, while he jumps from barrier one aboard Michael Trotter's Plot The Course.
VOBIS bonuses up for grabs
Some $80,000 worth of bonuses go on the line on Saturday, including a $30,000 carrot in the Ladbrokes VOBIS Gold Carat, a race worth $150,000. The sprint features 12 runners, six of them last-start winners. Interestingly, Mike Moroney brings Blackwolf Run to the races for the first time since his debut at The Valley 13 months ago. Blackwolf Run is a half-brother to So Si Bon, and jumped out at Werribee on December 11 in preparation for his return race.
WATCH: Blackwolf Run’s jumpout