The first Group 1 of the year is upon us at Caulfield this Saturday.
The official start of the Autumn (in my eyes at least) this Saturday as Group 1 racing returns and the Orr is headlined by arguably our best horse.
Mr Brightside is back for another campaign and will start the hot favourite for Saturday's race, and understandably so. He's run below 120 just once in nine starts since this race last year when they were determined to ride him back in the field.
We saw what he could do when ridden properly last campaign, taking out the P B Lawrence and Memsie at the Caulfield 1400m with ratings of 121 and 122, then peaking at 125+ in the Makybe Diva.
His consistency is key and it's reasonable to forecast another run around the 120 mark again. Only one other horse in this field has hit that mark and that is Pride Of Jenni. She won her two Group Ones over the Flemington mile in very similar, but also very different ways.
Both were outstanding rides, going out fast and doing enough to hold off the backmarkers in the Empire Rose, and then going slowly enough in front and ramping it up to deny the likes of Mr Brightside in the Champions Mile.
Ratings of 119 and 122, when you account for her four pound allowance, have her right up to Mr Brightside's best, but she doesn't have the consistency, even though she's done it at her past two.
Before that, she'd run 104, 112, 95 which are closer to last than first in this, and she seems far more reliant on her situation than a horse like Mr Brightside, who can win and run to his best off basically any scenario.
With a horse like Buffalo River, who only knows one way, Pride Of Jenni's ace is no longer up her sleeve, and she seems more likely to regress. I think she deserves to be second pick given her peaks, but black odds (if they appear) for Mr Brightside would seem fair.
Plenty (including the market) will like the three-year-old Veight, who currently edges Pride Of Jenni for second pick, and I understand why because he's the different form and won well first up etc etc but this is a huge leap in grade.
He won a very weak Australia Stakes first up and was no better than Southport Tycoon. He's rated a shaky 113 in my opinion, and this group of three-year-olds are well below historical standards that suggest you need to be a certain level to compete with the best weight-for-age horses. If he wins, and is single figures, I'll be losing.
Pericles was a big price all-in, especially to place, but he's come right in. I did like his trial and he has ratings just shy of 120 that are competitive, but unlikely to win this.
Given I can mark Veight much longer, and a few others like Ayrton and Munhamek longer than their prices as well, it's not hard to get Mr Brightside fairly short, and if we're seeing $2.10, $2.20 on the day, I think he's probably worth backing.