THE curtain came down on Melbourne’s spring carnival at the weekend, with a host of support features decided at Sandown.
It’s often a meeting that throws up potential topliners of the future and there were at least a couple of noteworthy ratings put on the board on Saturday.
Here is our review of the key performers from the day.
The Taj Mahal: 103
This was a solidly run 2400m where they ran fast overall time and The Taj Mahal showed genuine staying talent at this trip in winning comfortably.
This 103 is a new peak for him, up from 100 just seven days before in the Emirates Stakes.
He has prospects to be a major player in the Autumn carnival. He needs to find another length or two to be a serious G1 contender, but it’s certainly not out of the question.
It’s fair to say he didn’t run into Almandin at his best, with last year’s Cup winner returning a 99 WPR – a long way down from his 107 peak recorded when winning over 2500m earlier in his campaign.
Big Duke rated 97.1, which was around the mark he ran to in both the Moonee Valley and Melbourne Cups.
A very interesting observation around Big Duke is that his very best ratings have come in Sydney. He’s run in Sydney five times for ratings of 100, 103, 101.3, 102.3 and 103 when he won the St Leger at Randwick in October.
His best ratings in Melbourne have been in the 97 to 98.4 range.
Horses with fresh faces came to the fore in this race.
Villermont, who hadn’t raced since the middle day of the Caulfield carnival a month earlier, came from a long way back off an even pace and ran solid sectionals to win.
Last year Morton’s Fork rated 98.7 to win this race and the year before Mahuta ran to 97.8, so it’s not the highest rating renewal of recent years, but it’s in the ball park.
What’s worth noting is that Villermont is still very lightly raced with only four starts under the belt (off a racing career that only began in September), so we can make the assumption there’s still more upside.
It’s a similar story for the runner up Peaceful State (a half-brother to Weekend Hussler), who took a big step forward to rate 96.2 at just his 3rd start.
This was the same rating she recorded in winning her previous start over 2800m at Flemington.
This is genuine Listed standard – not much better – so her prospects (and those behind her) look limited to similar types of races.
Jungle Edge 96.5
This is consistent with his recent form.
He controlled the race at a moderate speed and ran home in what we would describe as sound sectionals, which certainly gave those chasing a chance, especially over the particularly slow last 200m.
Despite the credentials of some in the field, the race figures lacked substance. The race rated around 1.5-2L below what we’d consider genuine G3 WFA standard.
Dollar For Dollar: 99
This figure followed a last start 98.7 at Flemington and he has come back a much improved horse this preparation.
The pace was solid and overall time strong, so those chasing had every possible chance.
Hellova Street 100.7
The Tasmanian Hellova Street earned the highest rating in the race. He gave the winner 3kg and was beaten just 0.4 lengths.
That is a slight new peak up from 100.4 at Flemington back in March and a just over 1L improvement on his last start at Flemington.