An outstanding edition of the Group 1 $1 million Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) headlines the racing action at Caulfield on Saturday as the South Australian raiders Behemoth and Beau Rossa continue their rivalry in Melbourne.
The duo ran one-two at home in the Group 3 Spring Stakes with David Jolly’s hulking star Behemoth narrowly denying Beau Rossa fresh.
Will Clarken’s gun four-year-old was second again to the same champion sprinter second-up in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) with just a neck separating the two Adelaide raiders in the opening elite level of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
Both Beau Rossa and All Too Hard six-year-old Behemoth now return to the same track and distance for the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes on Saturday, but this time it is the young rival tipped to turn the tables.
Linda Meech again rides the son Unencumbered from the inside alley at Caulfield for the Sir Rupert with one-time Beau Rossa installed at $4.60 and easing at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Behemoth in barrier three with Craig Williams aboard is a danger at $5.50 chasing a hat-trick and a in his title defence having won the race last year.
Success would see the reigning champion become the first back-to-back Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes winner since Testa Rossa (1999-2000), but he will need to be good with 59kg.
The new favourite now sitting top of the odds at $4.50 is market mover Probabeel in gate two with last weekend’s Makybe Diva Stakes winning jockey Brett Prebble in the saddle.
Jamie Richards’ brilliant New Zealand-trained Savabeel mare is unbeaten at Caulfield having enjoyed wins in the Group 3 Geoffrey Bellmaine, Group 1 Futurity Stakes and the Group 3 Cockram Stakes at the track.
She won the Cockram first-up as the odds-on favourite with 60kg on her back and will relish getting up to 1400m, but remains high up in the weights 57kg here as she continues towards the $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate next month.
“She is a big strong mare that has carried weight before,” Richards told RSN.
“It’s up to her to get out of the barriers cleanly and take up a forward position.
“Hopefully she can lob in the first six without having to do too much work and then get a little bit of luck from the 600 metres onwards.
“She’s as good as we can have her.
“Ashley Hanley, who has been looking after her for the last couple of years, is very happy with her.”
The 2021 Neds Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes runs as the penultimate event on the Caulfield card for Saturday due to jump as Race 8 at 4:50pm (AEST).