The $2 million Emirates Stakes (formerly the Mackinnon Stakes) is one of the premier middle-distance races during the Melbourne spring carnival and a quality field of 12 runners will line up. See our full race preview and betting tips below where we fancy both of the two international entrants.
In Summary: The favourite is currently The United States, a classy individual but one who is currently 0/3 at Flemington. Endless Drama is overpriced on his European form but there has been no support in the market which suggests he may need the run. As such this can go to Andre Fabre’s VADAMOSS who warmed up for this in better company in the Cox Plate last time.
1. Happy Trails – Nine-year-old who was meant to be having his final run in the Cox Plate. He finished last in that and a good run looks unlikely here at big odds.
2. Hauraki – Won the Group 1 Epsom Handicap in one of the best performances seen in Australia this year, but was unable to back that up in the Cox Plate. Flemington suits much better as it will allow the Godolphin runner to fully wind up. Not without a chance at double-figure odds.
3. The United States – The current favourite after winning the Crystal Mile two back and running a solid fourth in the Cantala Stakes last start. Connections had Melbourne Cup aspirations, but a mild virus kept him out of contention. Yet to win at Flemington which is why we’re favouring Vadamoss, but he has a fair amount of class.
4. Happy Clapper – Gelding with ability who has room to improve after four moderate performances this campaign. He ran second in the Doncaster Handicap before running third in the Queen Elizabeth in April. That form would be strong for this, but he just hasn’t found his feet in Melbourne this time around.
5. Vadamoss – Came to Australia with French trainer Andre Fabre to win the Cox Plate. He finished a gallant fourth at Moonee Valley behind champion mare Winx, Melbourne Cup favourite Hartnell and Oaks favourite Yankee Rose. The German-bred son of Monsun has had a nice break between runs and this field is an easier target than he has faced recently. He won a major race at Chantilly before coming to Australia where defeating Spectre by a length and a quarter. Given the quality of stayers that have been winning in Australia this season, that form stacks up nicely.
6. Awesome Rock – Underrated type which could sneak into the minor money. Fifth in the Cox Plate when beating some talented types and he could be the knockout hope at big odds.
7 Scottish – NR
8. Endless Drama – European import acquired by Chris Waller. Adds some spice to the race and his form in Europe was strong. He ran second behind Gleneagles in the 2000 Guineas in 2015 and if he can replicate that stellar form, he would go close to winning this. Currently at double-figure odds which suggests he might need the run.
9. Palentino – Was in good form before going to Sydney for the Epsom Handicap where he finished a disappointing last. Didn’t fire last start either and we’re not prepared to risk it despite his strong record at Flemington.
10. Vanbrugh – Last start winner in the Coongy Stakes where he defeated the talented Tom Melbourne, which subsequently ran second behind Oceanographer in the Lexus Stakes. Not the worst, but doesn’t look well weighted at 58.5kg.
11. Tivaci – Four-year-old who has to carry 58.5kg against some seasoned stayers. Form this preparation has been very good, but he’s not at this level yet and is one to watch next season.
12. Good Standing – Defeated a handy field of three-year-olds last start which earns him a start down at the minimum weight of 51kg. That brings him into contention, but we think Vadamos is at least 10 lengths better.
13. Seaburge – Another three-year-old at 51kg, but has each way claims. He has competed against the highest quality of opposition throughout his career and we can’t drop it on one bad performance.