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Makybe Diva Stakes Day 2022: Group 1 tips and preview

We see the return of a Group 1 to Flemington, the home of Australian racing, for the first time since March.

The Makybe Diva Stakes, run over 1600m, has assembled a small but select field, all of which are destined to play roles at the top level over the next two months.

I’m Thunderstuck has a stranglehold on the market as the dominant favourite, and it’s easy to see why. He was all the boom last spring, when he Toorak Handicap and Golden Eagle at his eighth and ninth starts, but had become somewhat underrated after not winning in the autumn.

He did, however, run second in the All Star Mile behind Zaaki and the Doncaster behind Mr Brightside. He gave the latter five kilograms in that event, and we’ve seen the leaps and bounds that horse has taken since.

It was surprising to see I’m Thunderstruck ease to $11 when first-up in the Memsie, but he showed what a force he is going to be this season with a slashing second from back in the field, just failing to reel in a leader that had her own way in front.

As it stands, he’s the best miler in the race, has returned in peak form, and deserves favouritism.

Cascadian and Western Empire were third and fifth respectively in the Memsie, both 1.5-2 lengths behind I’m Thunderstruck. It’s hard to see them turning the tables given even luck, because I’m Thunderstruck swept passed Western Empire, and Cascadian will probably be behind him in the run this time around.

(Photo by Reg Ryan/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

The other ex-Perth horse, Regal Power, resumed in the Lawrence, and like Western Empire was first-up since December and will certainly both take benefits from their runs. Regal Power is all quality, and won’t shock. The grand warrior Cascadian will always be around the mark when the breaks go his way.

Alligator Blood was also in the Memsie, and in fact vying for favouritism. He finished the race with a “7” next to his name, but didn’t get every chance from the inside gate. He hasn’t seen 1600m in two and a half years, and his three runs at the distance are a second in the Caulfield Guineas, a win in the Australian Guineas, and down in the track in the All Star Mile when hot favourite.

If Alligator Blood doesn’t lead this race, then it’s anyone’s guess as to who does, so he will surely take up the running, which will give him every chance.

Mo’unga is starting to become something of the forgotten horse, or at the very least is at the crossroads. He hasn’t won in over a year now, and the Sydney wet in autumn didn’t suit him at all, let alone having a setback during it too. He was awful first-up in the Winx Stakes, and it’s now just a matter of how much you trust him.

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Nonconformist and She’s Ideal, the two horses in the field that are genuinely better over 2000m-2400m than a mile, round out the field. Both have shown they are adept on shifting surfaces, which we may get on Saturday, but it’s hard to make a big case for either of them beating all comers.

There is certainly a niggle around the weather. Flemington is the best drying track in the country, but a genuine soft track seems likely off the forecast. Regal Power, Western Empire and Alligator Blood are potentially the most disadvantaged if it’s wet, given they are unproven, and you can add Mo’unga into that if it gets heavy.

Selections: 1.I’m Thunderstruck 2.Alligator Blood 3.Cascadian 4.Western Empire

The support races on the Flemington card are deep, so it won’t be easy to land a winner.

Flying Mascot is somewhat underrated, is suited by the weights scale and drawn to get a beautiful box seat run. Swat’s That’s best is probably better than her competitors in the Bobbie Lewis, and is a superior straight horse. She could do with a win though, certainly.

There’s a couple of three-year-old straight races with big fields that will take some time to work out, and plenty of other great racing besides.

Up in Sydney, Rosehill hosts the Run to the Rose meeting, and the feature race has some quality three-year-olds as well. They will be looking to make their mark ahead of the Golden Rose, with gun two-year-old Fireburn the headline act on her return.

The early three-year-old’s form has been a bit all over the place, and we know their autumn was torpedoed by bottomless tracks. There is still plenty to play out with these rising up-and-comers.

The Theo Marks always lands a good field, which is what we get here. Ellsberg and Mr Mozart look the obvious picks; leaning toward the former at the slightly better price, but also have time for Kiku at $18.

The Sheraco also contains plenty of interest, especially with boom mare Shades of Rose in the field. She’s taking all before her as she rises through the grades, putting huge spaces on her rivals with three wins on the trot. We’ll get to see how good she is up against some Group 1 quality mares.

We are now at the start of a run that sees Group 1 racing taking place on each of the next 10 weekends. The Spring Carnival has arrived.

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