Spring is sprung on Saturday with Group 1 horses back on track

By:
Scott Mcglynn
18/02/2024
Horse Racing Betting Tips
Horse Racing News
Spring is sprung on Saturday with Group 1 horses back on track

Some classy action at both Flemington and Randwick on Saturday gave a taster for what is still to come in the autumn.  

News Insights

  • Imperatriz lights up Flemington
  • Fangirl salutes on return
  • Rocket wins over a shorter trip
  • Kimochi gets a deserved success

The autumn Group 1 racing is really starting to pick up pace, and Saturday was an excellent amuse-bouche of what is to come as the quality continues to build. With the top horses back in action, it is heading into a couple of months of the best action of the year, and the horse racing bookmakers will have it all priced up. 

There were some excellent performances at both Flemington and Randwick on Saturday afternoon. Some classy horses were on show, returning for the first run of their autumn preps with bigger and better targets still to come as the next couple of months unfold.   

Imperatriz is like Lightning 

The sole Group 1 race on Saturday was a 1000m contest at Flemington. On paper, it looked like a cracking contest in the making, and so it proved. She had to work a lot harder than perhaps the price suggested that she would, but it was a deep-looking field featuring some of the best sprinters in the country. 
 
Runner-up Private Eye was third in the Everest in the spring, while the third Espiona and the fourth Bella Nipotina are both Group 1 winners in their own right. Espiona saluted in the Coolmore last season, while Bella Nipotina took out the Manikato in October 2022 and the Giga Kick Stakes last prep. 

Apollo Stakes goes to Fangirl 

One of the top milers in the country, Fangirl won both the Winx and the King Charles Stakes in the spring and added to her tally in the Apollo Stakes with a strong first-up run. Saturday’s win was over 1400m, but she is capable of going as far as 2000m, which she might do again later in the autumn. 
 
The last time she tried it was in the Cox Plate when she got no luck in running, finishing on the heels of the principals, just 1.6l off the winner. The return to that sort of trip could suit her if there is enough pace for her to chase, something she always needs. 

Rocket surprises in Hayes 

Despite winning the Victoria Derby last prep over 2500m, the drop back to 1400m was no problem for Riff Rocket in the CS Hayes Stakes. He will be aimed at the Australian Guineas next up over 1600m, which is going to be a plus for him, moving up in trip. 
 
Saturday’s win took him to 5/8 in his career, as well as three wins in four starts when he raced at Flemington. It is this track where he has shown the peak of his form so far in his career, so he has to be noted when he returns to the Melbourne venue for more runs this prep, like the Guineas. 

Kimochi finally gets the win 

The three-year-old filly was starting to become a bit of a nearly horse, so seeing her get her head in front in the Group 2 Lightfinger at Randwick on Saturday was pleasing. There was a lot of placed form in her last prep, so it will be interesting to see if she can build on that in the autumn.   
 
She had finished second in the Thousand Guineas when last seen in mid-November, the same spot that she had filled in the Furious, the Tea Rose and the Flight Stakes. Add to those runs her third-place runs in the Silver Shadow and the Desirable, and it is a solid body of work so far in her career. 

The autumn Group 1 races are underway, and we are off to a flying start with Mr Brightside last week and Imperatriz this. The Group 2 races on Saturday were filled with Group 1 winners, and both those who won and who were placed look like adding to their Group 1 form this autumn.