Anjana (Image: Racing Photos)
There was Group 1 racing last week and more to come next weekend, but racing fans don't have to wait until then to see quality gallopers in action with The Valley to host its first meeting of spring this Saturday.
Below are five things to get you excited about the meeting, headlined by a couple of Group 2 events.
5 - Approach Discreet (R3, 1:40pm)
Approach Discreet accepted in Melbourne and Adelaide, but will run in the $120,000 1Print Handicap at The Valley. It took the McKenzie Stakes runner-up to beat him on debut then he backed up Sandown maiden success with an 8.5-length Morphettville romp, which catapulted him to Derby favouritism. Tougher here, with Kinky Boom, Muswellbrook and Byerly Handicap winner Visao among his rivals, but should shed a little more light on just where he fits in.
4 - Osborne Bulls (R7, 4:10pm)
Godolphin's rising star entered spring with a handy record, which he only enhanced with a first-up win in the G3 Regal Roller Stakes (1200m). The 5YO is prominent in G1 markets on the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and Toorak Handicap, but it will be fascinating to see how it plays out for him here given his get-back style of racing and the fact he's drawn the inside gate. That, combined with the presence of Weir trio Land Of Plenty, Iconoclasm and Peaceful State, as well as Mr Sneaky and Tulip, among others, makes the 1200m Listed event must viewing.
3 - Atlantic Jewel Stakes (R6, 3:30pm)
The 1200-metre 3YO fillies' event has proven a great spring guide in recent years and it would shock no one if it again turns out a key reference to the upcoming features for the girls. The highly-promising Anjana resumes, as does the also-unbeaten Assertive Play and highly-spruiked Lindsay Park Kiwi recruit Spanish Whisper. Humma Humma, who was pipped by Sunlight last start, Anjana's Roll The Dice Racing teammate Krone, Thrillster and promising emergency Alexandra Dreaming are among a super support cast.
2 - Dato' Tan Chin Nam Stakes (R8, 4:50pm)
Probably not the Cox Plate lead up it once was, but the $300,000 G2 still offers a free pass through to the $5m WFA championship. What's not quite as well known is it also offers a ballot exemption from the $5m Caulfield Cup and a few fancied types in that race are going around, headed by Night's Watch. He's been creeping up Caulfield Cup betting charts the past month and the esteem in which he's held is exemplified by the fact he opened favourite over Hartnell. Last year's winner Bonneval and fellow G1 mare Hiyaam add class, while Macedon Lodge's aggressive placement with lightly-raced import Homesman adds intrigue. A race we'll no doubt have to watch many times over.
1 - Nature Strip vs Shoals (R5, 2:50pm)
Every time he runs these days Nature Strip's is the most anticipated race of the day and it's no different this weekend in what's his toughest test. But we said that last start and he made a mess of Magic Millions winner Sunlight. The level of opposition rises a few more notches in the $200,000 G2 McEwen Stakes, with three-time G1 winner Shoals - who already owns an Everest slot - among the opposition in the 1000-metre event, yet Nature Strip went up the same price he was the day he met Sunlight. Compulsory viewing for any racing fan.