By Ben Caluzzi, Racing Analyst
The final field and barriers for the Group 1 Charter Keck Cramer Moir Stakes tomorrow night at The Valley are set and now it’s time to find the winner.
Despite drawing ideally in barrier 1, speed demon Nature Strip has eased in the market to $2.80 after being $2.50 in all-in betting earlier in the week. His last run in Sydney beaten 2.7 lengths by Redzel looked quite plain on the eye but he over-raced badly throughout and cost himself in the finish. After months of experimenting with trying to race him more conservatively, trainer Chris Waller has said he will abort mission and let Nature Strip return to his old freerolling racing style. He’s a fast horse that only knows one way- jump and run, and we’ve seen he can post sensational times when given free reign. The downside is we’ve also seen he can burn himself out and drop out of races dramatically. Drawn barrier 1, I expect James McDonald to kick up, hold the fence and give them something to chase. He’s capable of opening up a field like this and making his opposition crack under pressure, it’s just a matter of whether or not he cracks first.
Sunlight is a champion filly turned mare that has three group 1 wins and a 2yo Magic Millions win on her CV. After the first poor run of her career last start at Randwick where nothing ever worked out, Tony McEvoy is confident she can bounce back. A winner of the Group 1 William Reid Stakes here in March, we’ve seen she’s handled The Valley well before and deserves to be the second favourite. I think she’ll jump and land on speed from barrier 10 but I doubt she has the speed to go with some of the others early. Her advantage is that she’s not one dimensional like many of her opposition and can be just as effective ridden with a sit. If she gets the cosy run just in behind the speed, she’ll be right there at the finish.
1000m is short of his best, but if he can keep up with the field then Trekking has to be a major player. The son of Street Cry really announced himself as one of Godolphin’s top-liners last preparation, winning the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap by 2 lengths in a dazzling display. He has a great turn of foot and in a race stacked with speed, barrier 11 could possibly work in his favour. It will allow Kerrin McEvoy to let the race unfold in front of him and come with one swooping run around the outside. If they go too hard out in front like they did last year when Viddora won, he may look the winner.
After back to back Group 1 wins in May, New Zealander The Bostonian returns to Australia for another preparation. A winner of nine of his seventeen starts, he comes into this with some of the best credentials in the race. Like Trekking he’s never won at 1000m but quite astonishingly, he’s won all five of his first up runs. He beat Osborne Bulls fresh last prep and the booking of Damian Lane is significant. He has a wide draw to contend with but $13 is an attractive price for a horse of his calibre.
The other Godolphin horse in the race is Viridine who I really like. He’s drawn well in barrier 5 and should get a nice run midfield, one off the fence. His last fresh run at 1000m he charged home against Ball of Muscle and Redzel and I think the tempo of this race will suit him. He’s usually well found in betting and considering he’s never started longer than $13, the $17 on offer right now could be value. The knock is stablemate Trekking has had the wood over him at their past two outings, but if he’s ever going to turn the tables then 1000m might give him his chance.
The G2 Mittys McEwan Stakes at The Valley three weeks ago acted as the lead up run for six of the horses in tomorrow’s Charter Keck Cramer Moir Stakes field. Eduardo was first up without a trial there and ran well before tiring in the final stages and going down to Faatinah. He should derive great benefit from that run but take nothing away from the winner, he’s a track and trip specialist.
Bon’s Away ran on strongly for second in that race but he is a horse that needs a few things to fall into place to win. He has a short, sharp sprint and if he gets a nice run then he’s a chance. Oakleigh Plate winner Booker has been only fair at her past three and no doubt she’ll be looking to rediscover her best form.
Sydney-siders Ball of Muscle and Tactical Advantage are a few notches below the best sprinters in New South Wales, but they avoid some of those by coming here and either of them could easily win. Of the two, I’d have to be in Tactical Advantage’s corner only because of all the speed Ball of Muscle will have to contest.
Assertive Approach and Miss Leonidas will go forward and contribute to the predicted fast tempo while Winter Bride is far from the worst $51 shot I’ve ever seen. Meryl was beaten less than a length last start behind three subsequent opponents here and is the longshot at $81. That’s the kind of race it is.
The verdict - At his best Nature Strip wins, but if you’re willing to take him on then there is value to be found. My numbers: 6. Viridine, 11. Sunlight, 2. Trekking, 7. Tactical Advantage