A mile showdown for the juveniles, a sprint down Flemington’s famous straight six and the course’s other two-mile handicap highlight a bumper days racing at the iconic Victorian racecourse on the weekend.
Early in the day the two-year-olds will have their chance to shine in the $100,000 Listed Gibson Carmichael Stakes (1600m).
There were 12 final acceptors for the Carmichael Stakes this year, with John Thompson’s last-start winner Isopach leading the field.
Winner of the Listed Adelaide Casino Oaklands Plate down the mile at Morphettville on April 30, Isopach is one of four non-maidens in the race and has drawn barrier eight.
Other early favourites include Peter Snowden’s Lonhro filly Euryale drawn ideally on the rails in barrier one and looking for her second win from just three starts and the Lee Freedman-trained Berenger (barrier 10) who impressively won over 1400m at Ballarat by six and a half lengths on May 12.
Last start Euryale finished a devastatingly close second beaten a mere nose by The New Boy in the $70,000 Secondbite 2YO Plate over 1400m at Flemington and will be looking to improve on the run.
Dual Group 1 winning filly Yosei resumes on Saturday in the $125,000 Listed Henry Bucks Straight Six (1200m), coming up trumps in barrier three and to be ridden by Mark Zahra.
Stuart Webb’s classy Invincible Spirit three-year-old hasn’t raced since her disappointing 10th place finish to Brazilian Pulse in the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) at Flemington last November.
Yosei won the Group 1 AJC Sire’s Produce Stakes (1400m) and the Group 1 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) last year and will face a high-class field in her first-up run this year.
Other top entries in the sprint showdown include the Mick Price-trained Dubleanny (barrier five) looking for her third on the trot having won a 1200m at Flemington on Anzac Day before her most recent win in the Listed Proud Miss Stakes at Morphettville three weeks back and autumn revelation Zedi Knight with the inside running from gate one looking to return to their winning form from last month.
While Flemington’s most famous race is undoubtedly the Melbourne Cup, on Saturday another trip over two-miles will run at the course – the $200,000 Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m).
Will the next Melbourne Cup winner be unveiled in the Andrew Ramsden on Saturday; the chance is there with the winner passing the ballot clause for the world’s richest handicap.
The race attracted 18 acceptors including former John Sadler’s in-form galloper Rusticated looking for their fourth straight, Warrnambool Cup runner-up Niwot, progressive Pins gelding I’m Jake and the Michael Moroney-trained Hiphopopotamus a winner over 3000m at Moonee Valley in March.
Carnegie five-year-old Rusticated showed great staying potential in their last-start win in the Cleanevent Handicap over 2800m at Flemington on May 7, which pleased local trainer Sadler and jockey Jake Noonan who was aboard.
“You can’t fault his form at the moment,” Noonan said.
“He was stepping up in class (in the Cleanevent) but he had no weight (53.5kg) on his back and had a nice run in transit.”
Rusticated steps up in the weights to 55.5kg on Saturday and will be ridden by Danny Nikolic.
As for the unusually-named Hipopopotamus, connections believe Saturday will reveal a lot about the five-year-old’s future as a genuine stayer.
“He’s a consistent horse but is still 12 months away from being at his best,” Moroney’s racing manager Anthony Feroce said.
“He’s a nice stayer on his way.
“He has taken a bit of time….but he will get the two miles.
“It is going to be a strong race but he will race on the speed and he will run well.”