The bookies are having a hard time separating the four major players in Saturday’s Toorak Handicap 2014 betting markets with the quartet of top fancies paying between $5.50 and $6.50 to win the Caulfield clash.
Set to run as Caulfield Guineas Day Race 7 at 4:30pm, this year’s $400,000 Group 1 David Jones NBCF Toorak Handicap (1600m) features a final field of 15 hopefuls.
Five of those are installed under double figures in the current Toorak Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, including two $5.50 co-favourites.
Sitting top of the markets are the Chris Waller-trained Bull Point and fellow four-year-old Arabian Gold who both come off a nice lead-up run into the Group 1 mile showdown.
Waller’s Fastnet Rock stallion Bull Point, drawn ideally in barrier two with Jim Cassidy on 54.5kg for Saturday, is fourth-up for the season here following a trio of top three runs.
His latest effort was in Group 1 company at the Caulfield track on September 28 when defeated under two lengths by Trust In A Gust in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m).
The Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes has been the key lead-up to the Toorak Handicap in recent years too with two completing the double in the past decade with Regal Roller (2004) and Barley A Moment (2005).
Solzhenitsyn also came via a third in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes last year before winning the Toorak Handicap.
His main danger then is drawn at the opposite end of the Toorak Handicap field with the David Vandyke-trained Dubawi mare Arabian Gold due to jump from gate 13 with Craig Williams in the saddle.
While Bull Point’s barrier has produced three Toorak Handicap winners since 1983, striking grey Arabian Gold has a hoodoo to overcome in 13 with no winners coming from that starting position in the past 31 years.
Her lead-up form however is outstanding as she’s won four of her past five runs.
In the last run of her three-year-old campaign she was second to Tinto in the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) then first-up she beat home Catkins in the Group 3 Golden Pendant (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 27.
That said, the Sydney form leading into the Sir Rupert Clarke in recent years has been hard to back with only three since 2002 – Shot Of Thunder (2002), Red Dazzler (2006) and More Joyous (2010) – had their lead-up run in Sydney.
Both Arabian Gold and Bull Point however are the right age for a Toorak Handicap win with four-year-olds having won five of the past editions.
Equal $6.50 second picks in the markets are then Commanding Jewel and Trust In A Gust drawn in barriers 10 and 11 respectively.
Leon & Troy Corstens’ former Thousand Guineas winner Commanding Jewel has had three lovely runs this time in off a lengthy, injury-enforced spell and is looking to return to the winners’ stall after a third to Dear Demi in the Group 2 Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley last time out.
Trust In A Gust meanwhile scored an upset win when nudging out Dissident by a nose in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes where he carried only 52kg, the increase to 56.5kg on Saturday key to the Darren Weir-trained Keep The Faith four-year-old’s chances.
Rounding out the single figure fancies at $7.50 is then Solicit with barrier 14 to overcome.
Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra’s Street Cry mare is third-up for the season, her most recent run being a second when going down a nostril flare in the Stocks Stakes.
Damian Lane rode her that day on 56.5kg but on Saturday the four-year-old has Craig Newitt in the saddle going down three kilos to 53.5kg.
She’s tipped to improve later this season too going up in distance having finished second behind current 2014 Caulfield Cup favourite and last start Turnbull Stakes winner Lucia Valentina in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) in Sydney on April 5.
Outside the top five are then a host of other livewire chances at double figure odds with genuine claims in the Toorak Handicap including Atlante ($10) and Guest Of Honour ($12).
Atlante represents Team Hawkes in the race, the Fastnet Rock four-year-old having won first-up at Moonee Valley before a disappointing eighth in the Sir Rupert last time out.
He’s a two time winner from three starts over the mile however and so is tipped to enjoy the step up in distance this weekend.
Guest Of Honour meanwhile makes his Australian race debut here ahead of a 2014 Cox Plate run at Moonee Valley on October 25, Marco Botti’s UK raider to carry the 58kg on Saturday in his first run since a Group 2 victory over this distance back home in York in July.
Stay tuned for our insider Toorak Handicap 2014 form guide, betting preview and tips to be published over the week.
In the meantime click on the links below to back your early Toorak Handicap selections at Ladbrokes.com.au who will be offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on your winnings for the race this weekend !