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Defending champion Homesman is the favourite and market mover in the latest 2019 Underwood Stakes odds for the Group 1 in Melbourne this afternoon.
Following the action of Sydney’s Golden Rose Stakes Day on Saturday, the attention returns to Melbourne at Caulfield Racecourse today for the Group 1 $750,000 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
The field is down to 12 after the early scratching of the Liam Howley-trained Yucatan, while stablemate Homesman has been heavily backed in Underwood Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au.
The in-form War Front six-year-old has firmed from $2.50 to $2.30 to win back-to-back Underwood Stakes for the first time since Northerly (2001-02).
Homesman got his spring off to the right start winning Moonee Valley’s Group 2 Feehan Stakes (1600m) first-up on September 7 going one better than his second in the same mile event last spring.
The Team Williams-raced import went on to win the weight-for-age Underwood next-up in 2018 and also finished second when beaten the barest of margins in that season’s Group 1 $5 million Caulfield Cup (2400m).
This year the Group 1 $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley is also an option for Homesman depending on his Underwood run, the galloper at $9 in pre-field Cox Plate odds through Ladbrokes.com.au.
“He felt as though he had improved,” Homesman’s jockey Ben Melham told AAP this week.
“He’s really seasoned up as a horse.
“He’s had a couple of preparations here now and he’s just a good, strong, sturdy horse and he couldn’t have been more impressive the other day.
“I haven’t been on him since but he would have improved since that run and that would see him be hard to beat on Sunday.”
Melham’s only concern is the outside alley for Homesman who jumps from gate 12 of 12.
“I suppose the draw is a little bit of a concern,” he said.
“There’s two leaders inside him and a bunch of them that want to be just behind the speed.
“So I’m just unsure where he’ll fit in yet – how I’ll ride him – but certainly a repeat performance of his run in the Feehan would see him very hard to beat.”
There has also been a bit of money for the rails-drawn Hartnell ($6 into $5) for Godolphin in the Underwood Stakes markets.
Premier Sydney jockey Hugh Bowman celebrated the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes win on Bivouac for trainer James Cummings yesterday and will be chasing an elite level double in as many days on Hartnell this afternoon.
Nine-year-old Hartnell comes off a fourth in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) third-up, the ultra-consistent champ looking for his first win at Caulfield since the 2018 CF Orr Stakes.
The shock Makybe Diva Stakes winner Gatting won at 100/1 defeating the boom filly Mystic Journey last start and is being kept much safer in Underwood betting at $5 to post successive Group 1 wins.
The race also features the 2016 Underwood Stakes winner Black Heart Bart who is after dual wins on non-successive years for the first time since Lord (1958, 1960).
Black Heart Bart was unplaced in last year’s race and is a $71 roughie in betting.
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