Deane Lester’s Flemington Best Bets


The juvenile races at this time of year have a big bearing on how the Blue Diamond picture is shaping and the 2YO Plate (1100m) should prove a significant guide going towards the bigger races. There are a brace of debutantes that have trialled well but none more so than ENGLISH RIVIERA, a daughter of Deep Field for the Tony and Calvin McEvoy stable. After a soft jumpout at Mortlake, she was asked for more of an effort in an 800 metres jumpout at Terang on January 5 and could not have been more impressive stretching out over the final stages to win by a significant margin. She looks very well educated to make a winning debut and gets the services of elite rider Jye McNeil making her a good betting option to start the Flemington program.


The Benchmark 100 Handicap (1700m) has brought together a field of well performed horses but lacking recent winning form and, for that reason, UNDER MY SPELL makes plenty of appeal in this race. The Nigel Blackiston trained mare finished strongly to win over 1400 metres at Pakenham on December 4 before a brave second with 60.5kg behind AMERICAN ANGEL over 1600 metres at Caulfield on December 26. She rises in grade but drops 7.5 kg and gets a senior rider in Michael Dee taking the mount. The daughter of Pierro is currently racing in foal so she is in the twilight of her racing career and this looks a great chance for her to record a Flemington win. At a meeting that there doesn’t look an absolute standout bet, UNDER MY SPELL appeals as one of the better bets of the day.


The Benchmark 70 Handicap (1400m) looks an open race with each way odds for the field, however FIELD OF ROSES has returned to racing in good form and represents a terrific value chance. The four year old produced a good finish to win over 1300 metres at Sandown Hillside on December 15 and defeated the in-form gallopers UNFAIR DISMISSAL and PAL D’ORO. He went back to Pakenham jumpouts for a fitness hit-out recently and again galloped strongly through the line. He’s won three of his 11 starts to date and Ben Allen has developed a good affinity with FIELD OF ROSES who should run well again at a nice price.

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