The airborne Kelly Schweida-trained...
The Underwood Stakes 2017 has seemingly gone a little under the radar this weekend with so much Group 1 racing taking place, but the Sunday feature at Caulfield Racecourse is a star-studded affair and possible form race to follow into the Caulfield Cup.
Nine runners are confirmed for the Group 1 $750,000 Underwood Stakes (1800m) this spring including the Lindsay Park-trained He’s Our Rokkii who scratched out from Saturday’s Epsom Handicap field over the Randwick mile in favour of the longer-distanced weight-for-age clash.
It could prove a tough race for any runner outside the favourite to salute if the Underwood Stakes betting markets are to be believed with the James Cummings-trained Hartnell nearing odds-on territory.
This time last spring the import won Sydney’s Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) before heading to Flemington to defeat subsequent Caulfield Cup winner Jameka in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m).
He has posted just the one win since taking out the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) first-up this prep at Caulfield before a last start second to Humidor in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m).
Saturday marks the seven-year-old’s first start over further than a mile since the autumn’s Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) when he finished a well-beaten second behind regular rival Winx who has cost the champ plenty of elite level success over the past couple of seasons.
The Godolphin team are keeping spring options open for Hartnell in 2017 with both the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 21 and another Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) encounter with Winx, who beat him home by a record eight lengths in the race last year, possibilities.
Hartnell sits top of the Underwood Stakes odds at $2.05 and has eased out somewhat from $1.85 to return to winning form.
Cummings said jockey Kerrin McEvoy would be instructed to settle the favourite a little further off the speed than his two lead-up runs this campaign and believes the change of tactics will be key to the horse saluting for the punters.
“He steps out to the 1800m here in the Underwood and he’ll be well suited,” Cummings told the Herald Sun.
“We’d love to ride him with a little bit of cover this time, a little more neutrally from the barriers.
“I was delighted to see him pull up quite well from what was a tough run in the Makybe Diva Stakes. He had to burn the candle at both ends and he was able to hold off the challenges and battle on bravely for second.”
Last year Black Heart Bart became the first favourite in Underwood Stakes betting to salute since So You Think (2010) and Darren Weir saddles-up the defending champ in this year’s race again.
Currently Black Heart Bart is installed as the equal $4.80 second favourite along with the market mover Bonneval, the latter a huge chance in futures Caulfield Cup betting for the mile and a half feature.
Blackfriars seven-year-old Black Heart Bart has finished top three in his three spring runs this campaign firstly finishing third to Hartnell in the P.B. Lawrence Stakes, then second in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) to Vega Magic and third in the Makybe Diva last time out.
He improved on a Makybe Diva Stakes second last year to win the Underwood Stakes and has an outstanding record at Caulfield Racecourse (8-5-2-1).
The Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman-trained mare Bonneval meanwhile hasn’t been defeated since January winning her five latest starts.
She travelled down under the autumn off a NZ Oaks win at home to take out Sydney’s Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) by a runaway four and a half-lengths.
The now four-year-old daughter of Makfi showed she had picked right back up where she left off when taking out Moonee Valley’s Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) on September 9.
There’s been early money for her to salute again in the Underwood Stakes from barrier three with Hugh Bowman booked for the ride.
The other early Underwood Stakes move in from $31 to a still generous $20 looking for the upset is Samovare who has finished out of the money just once in her nine starts.
The Lindsay Park-trained Savabeel mare is racing on back-to-back weekends after her second to Harlem at the track last Saturday in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) and could be the value bet in the Underwood Stakes field.
Check out the latest Underwood Stakes 2017 betting odds below, following the links to Ladbrokes.com.au to lock in your early Caulfield Sunday racing tips at the right price.
2017 Underwood Stakes Odds
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