Horse Betting: Backbone to the front at Flemington
Backbone has to run the extra 400m today but only looks as though he will be even better the further he goes.
Timeform's Gary Crispe has little doubt exciting stayer Backbone can win his second stakes race on end in today's Listed VRC St Leger (race 6) at Flemington.
Backbone, the three-year-old son of Mossman, won the Listed Galilee Final over 2400m at Mornington last time and looks hard to beat again in today's 2800m feature.
Prepared by leading trainer Mick Kent, Backbone was well held in his first two career runs then was spelled. But he has really put it together this time, though with three wins from five runs.
He resumed over a mile at Ballarat and after settling off the pace worked home soundly to finish a nose second behind Zamour. Backbone then stayed at a mile at Kilmore and settled midfield before circling the field out wide and loomed up. Lifting strongly once he found the front he pulled out enough to score a nose win over Hourglass.
Out to a more suitable 2025m at his home track of Cranbourne, he had a big weight before again circling the entire field out wide and running on for a half-length win. Tackling his toughest assignment over 2000m in town at Caulfield he had a wide gate and settled midfield but wide without cover. Posted there throughout, he ran on well in the straight and finished seventh but was only 1.5 lengths from the winner.
He then stepped up to 2400m at Mornington and not only had a wide gate but the big weight as well. Carting 59kg, he was caught wide early before getting some cover in fourth throughout. Approaching the turn jockey Brad Rawiller decided to get moving and striking the front at the top of the straight, he ran away with a 1.8 -ength win over Rock Lobster.
Backbone has to run the extra 400m today but only looks as though he will be even better the further he goes. He drops in weight on the win, has drawn for a good run and should be at his top. Perhaps the only query is the slow track as he's yet to race on anything worse than dead, but he's a very honest and promising stayer, and looks the one to beat again.
Vatuvei, which placed behind Backbone last start, looks the biggest danger.
The Peter Moody-trained gelding, a son of Reset, resumed this campaign with a 3.8-length win over 1400m in heavy ground. He was just far too good there so headed to town over 1800m next start at Sandown where he ran on from the back to finish fifth.
Up to 2000m at Caulfield he had a tough run and found plenty of trouble, finishing eighth when beaten 2.2 lengths and finishing only three quarters of a length behind Backbone. He then met that galloper again in the Galilee Final and after drifting well back got home strongly to finish third, beaten 1.9 lengths.
Today he meets Backbone worse at the weights for being beaten, so will have to pull out a big run to turn the tables. But he looks suited by the longer journey, has won in soft ground and should be ready to hit his top after four runs back.
While that pair look the two to beat, promising galloper Rive Gauche has a bit of an x-factor.
Less experienced than the other two, the Jim Conlon-trained son of Zabeel won his maiden fresh over 1887m at Kyneton by four lengths. before a strong run in the Galilee Final when racing on the speed and boxing on for fourth. He was only second-up, so should be further improved and looks suited by the longer trip. He doesn't have a weight pull on the winner and in fact meets him worse but has plenty of upside and it certainly wouldn't shock to see him take this out.
Tasmanian Derby winner Methuselah is fitter for two runs back and may be ready to show something over the longer journey.
Gary's TOP PICKS for RACE 6@FLEMINGTON
(3) Rive Gauche