Flemington Saturday 5th November Group 1 Races Preview: VCR Champions Stakes, Champions Mile & Champions Sprint – Betting, Field & Tips
The Melbourne Cup Carnival will draw to a close with a trip of eagerly anticipated Group 1 races at Flemington on Saturday.
Australian Horse of the Year Nature Strip will bid to make history by winning the $3 million Champions Sprint for the third time. However, he faces stern competition from The Everest winner Giga Kick and the in-form Bella Nipotina.
The country’s best milers will then contest the $3 million Champions Mile, with the improving Private Eye installed as the favourite. An elite field featuring the likes of Anamoe, I’m Thunderstruck, Zaaki and Mo’unga will then line up for the $3 million Champions Stakes.
Read on to learn more about the background of each race, the leading contenders and our top tips.
Champions Sprint 2022
The country’s leading sprinters gather at Flemington each November to contest this $3 million showpiece. It was inaugurated in 1960, and former winners include Black Caviar, Buffering and Redzel. In 2006, the race was moved to the last day of the VRC Spring Carnival.
Since 2007, it has been held under weight-for-age conditions. It is a 1200m sprint for horses aged three and older. Prize money has been bumped up to $3 million this year following a cash injection from Racing Victoria. The prize purses for the Champions Mile and Champions Stakes have also increased to the same amount this year.
Champions Sprint Race Time
The Champions Sprint is Race 6 on the card at Flemington on Saturday. It starts at 15:50.
Champions Sprint Leading Contenders
The champion sprinter has won this race in two of the past three years. Nature Strip saluted in 2019, finishing more than three lengths clear of Loving Gaby to clinch his third Group 1 victory that year. He returned to defend his crown in 2020, but he finished second to Bivouac. However, he returned last year and easily beat Swats That and Bella Nipotina.
Nature Strip is now a nine-time Group 1 winner, and he also clinched The Everest in 2021. He could soon overtake Winx as the highest-earning racehorse of all time. However, he could only finish fourth in The Everest, a length behind winner Giga Kick, so he will need to improve on Saturday if he is to take out this race for the third time.
The Clayton Douglas-trained three-year-old defied odds of $21 to clinch The Everest last month, making it five wins from five starts for this talented sprinter. He will now bid for his first Group 1 triumph. If he gets the better of Nature Strip for the second time in as many months, he will take on the mantle as the world’s number one sprinter.
The five-year-old mare destroyed her rivals in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley last start. That took her record to two wins and a runner-up finish from three starts this spring, and she was only a head behind Coolangatta in the G1 Moir Stakes, so she has been very consistent.
The four-year-old Godolphin colt won the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield last month, but he could only finish eight in the Manikato Stakes, 8¾ lengths behind Bella Nipotina. He was seriously outpaced in the final 200m, which does not augur well.
Champions Sprint Betting
|Horse||Fixed Win||Fixed Place|
|Roch N Horse||$26||$5|
Champions Sprint 2022 Tips
Punters are now very familiar with all of these sprinters, and Giga Kick and Nature Strip certainly look a cut above their rivals. Nature Strip ran out of steam after sitting wide with no cover during The Everest, but it was another impressive performance, and he should exact revenge on Giga Kick in this race. Bella Nipotina to place also appeals after her commanding performance in the Manikato Stakes.
Champions Mile 2022
The Champions Mile is run over 1600m at Flemington on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival. It typically attracts the best local and international milers. The race is run under quality handicap conditions, open to runners aged three and older that are not maidens.
This race was formerly known as the Cantala Stakes, the Kennedy Cantala and the Kennedy Champions Mile, but it is now simply the Champions Mile. It has been running since 1881, and famous former winners include Gunsynd and Taj Rossi.
Champions Mile Race Time
The Champions Mile will get underway at 16:30 on Saturday, 40 minutes after the Champions Sprint.
Champions Mile 2022 Leading Contenders
Private Eye has come of age this spring. He looked like a reasonably promising sprinter, but few expected him to emerge as one of the best in the business. He was a whisker away from winning The Everest, and he then delivered a superb performance to win the Nature Strip Stakes. If he maintains his upward curve, he will win this.
My Oberon had a strong career in England before joining Annabel Neasham’s yard earlier this year. His Australian debut came in the Group 2 Crystal Mile, where he blitzed his rivals to win by a length-and-a-half on soft ground. He prefers a firmer surface, but he will be dangerous either way on Saturday.
Trainer James Cummings decided to swerve the weight-for-age path towards the Cox Plate, as he kept Cascadian in Sydney last month. The seven-year-old gelding earned dominant wins in the G2 Hill Stakes and the G3 Craven Plate, and he commands respect in this race.
Alligator Blood won the G1 Underwood Stakes at Sandown in September, but he could only secure back-to-back fifth-place finishes in the Might and Power and the Cox Plate. He could relish a step back in distance to 1600m on Saturday.
Champions Mile Betting
|Horse||Fixed Win||Fixed Place|
Champions Mile 2022 Tips
Private Eye and Cascadian look like the leading contenders, but Tuvalu could spring a surprise. He has been very consistent throughout his career, and he delivered a strong performance to take out the Group 1 Toorak Handicap last start. Conditions look perfect for him, so $3.20 on a fixed place appeals.
Champions Stakes 2022
This is another venerable old race that was inaugurated in 1869, when former Melbourne Cup winner Glencoe saluted. It was initially known as the Melbourne Stakes, with famous winners including Phar Lap, Peter Pan and Eurythmic, but it became the LKS Mackinnon Stakes in 1937. It has changed names several times since then, and it is now the Champions Stakes.
Lots of runners have completed the Champions Stakes-Melbourne Cup double, from Malua in 1884 to Rogan Josh in 1999. Ajax, Beau Vite, Comic Court, Rising Fast, Tobin Bronze and Tulloch are just some of the elite winners from the history books. It is now run over 2000m the Saturday after the Melbourne Cup. Once again, it is a weight for age race for horses aged three and older that are not maidens.
Champions Stakes Race Time
The Champions Stakes will be held at 17:10. It is Race 8 on the card.
Champions Stakes Leading Contenders
Anaome is fresh from winning the Cox Plate, so it is easy to see why he has been installed as the favourite for this race. He is now a Group 1 winner aged two, three and four, and he has emerged successful in his last four Group 1 starts. This 2000m trip at Flemington is ideal for the Godolphin star.
The Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr-trained gelding finished second to Anamoe in the Might and Power and the Cox Plate on his last two starts. He will now bid to avoid a hat-trick of defeats. He enjoys soft ground, and he has won twice at Flemington before.
Zaaki won this race last year after getting the better of Cascadian and Mo’unga. However, he is another runner that trailed Anamoe on his last two starts, and he could struggle to make up the distance on Saturday.
Neasham will also run the New Zealand-bred Mo’unga in this race. The five-year-old stallion will bid for his first victory since taking out the Group 1 Winx Stakes in August 2021. He was fifth in the Cox Plate, 2¼ lengths behind Anamoe.
Champions Stakes Betting
|Horse||Fixed Win||Fixed Place|
Champions Stakes Tips
It is hard to look past Anamoe for this race. His recent form has been scintillating, making him the country’s dominant weight-for-age horse this spring. This is his optimum distance, and he should vanquish his rivals yet again.
**Odds quoted are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change.