One race before the three-year-olds face off in the day’s namesake race, the 2013 Toorak Handicap will take centre stage on Caulfield Guineas Day with a bumper field of 17 set to square off.
Scheduled as Caulfield Race 9 at 4:55pm (AEST) this year’s $400,000 Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) has drawn a big field and there’s lots of talent in the mix.
Toorak Handicap betting is currently led by last year’s winner Solzhenitsyn ($5.50) from the Brisbane stables of Robert Heathcote.
Heathcote celebrated the second Group 1 training success of his career in this race 12 months ago and is hoping the now seven-year-old Solzhenitsyn can get the job done again when they defend their Toorak title on the weekend.
They come off some crack form having run second in the Theo Marks first-up before their brave third in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m), the same race and place they came into last year’s Toorak on the back of.
So will history repeat itself? Solzhenitsyn is certainly going well but they need to be as they go up from 52kg last year to a hefty 58kg impost this weekend.
There’s also the fact that just one seven-year-old has won the Toorak in the past 30 years, King Mufhasa (2011).
Despite the size of the field just two other runners are currently under $10 in the Toorak Handicap betting markets with Stradbroke Handicap champ Linton and the flying Speediness both paying $7.
So are these the three to lock into your Toorak Handicap trifecta bets this weekend?
#6 Speediness ($7)
They’ve got a wide barrier 16 draw to overcome but early speed and class to do so. Colin Scott’s local Testa Rossa six-year-old comes into this off some great form including a first-up win over Group 1 winner Temple Of Boom in the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis (1200m) at Flemington. At their last start they were fourth in the Sir Rupert defeated just half a length, and they didn’t have a great gate that day either (13 of 16). Dual stakes winner during their autumn – winter campaign, including the Scone Cup over the mile. This is a step up but look to be going their best yet.
#2 Solzhenitsyn ($5.50)
Will come close to successfully defending their title we’re sure as, despite being a seven-year-old, they are running with the zest of a horse half their age. Pros are they’ve been there and done this, are in top form, ran third in Sir Rupert last year and again this year and love this distance (7-4-0-2). Cons are the weight (58kg) and their age.
#15 Blackie $26)
Some early money coming in on this double figure chance that represents nice value in the exotics. They come via a different lead-up to some of the major players, but it could hold up. After an eighth (beaten 2.5 lengths) in the Bobbie Lewis behind Speediness but then went to the Valley over 1500m a fortnight ago and smashed it out winning by 3.5 lengths. Wasn’t against the same class obviously but there was something there that if they unleash here (getting in with just 54.5kg) could really surprise.
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*All odds quoted are Fixed Win from Ladbrokes.com.au and subject to change