Jumping one race prior to the major Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington on Saturday, the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes will undoubtedly be one of the tightest, most well-fought events of the weekend, with even the most-favoured runners offering excellent value to all punters.
Expected to make his delayed start to 2014 at Flemington on Saturday, classy colt Polanski was scratched from the CS Hayes Stakes this morning after trainer Robbie Laing discovered he had not recovered from a severe case of Ringworm that ended chances of a run in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) last weekend, and has well and truly opened the field from a betting point of view.
Despite featuring as the current $3.60 favourite, Hucklebuck has drifted slightly as punters have rallied behind $18 outsider Criterion; registering the David Payne-trained colt as the unrivalled market move.
Will Hucklebuck justify his favouritism tag, or will an outsider like Surge Ahead ($41) carry winning form into success at Group 2 level?
The Quarterback ($4.60)
In only three competitive starts to date, three-year-old The Quarterback has widely impressed; winning his first two races before finishing an unlucky third behind Bull Point in the Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1200m) on February 1st. The Street Boss gelding was not expected to perform well under the set-weight plus penalties rule of that event, however more than stamped his claims on an Australian Guineas start with a brilliantly-formed finish. Offering a current quote of $4.60, The Quarterback offers punters great value for a maiden win at Group level this weekend.
Despite running a campaign that did not produce a win, Criterion proved he can mix it with the country’s best throughout the 2013 spring; following up a strong second behind Eurozone in the Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes (1500m) with another in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) before closing his year fourth behind Polanski in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m). Having trialled well throughout January, trainer David Payne has no doubt the Sebring colt can begin his 2014 calendar in the best possible way.
Having prepared well throughout January, Prince Harada was well backed ahead of the Manfred Stakes on February 1st but was unable to produce the necessary acceleration to figure in the placings, finishing a disappointing fourth. Despite that result, trainer Tony Vasil believes the young colt will be much better for the run, and will be further boosted by leading jockey Craig Williams, who was confirmed to take the ride earlier this week.
With Polanski out of the running, betting markets have been blown wide open for the 2014 CS Hayes Stakes.
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