Darren Weir’s short-priced favourite Black Heart Bart has drawn mid-field in barrier eight for Saturday’s Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington Racecourse.
Continuing the elite level action of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, the $500,000 Group 1 PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) has attracted a below capacity field of 13 weight-for-age hopefuls.
Three come from the Melbourne Cup winning stables of Weir including the hot favourite in the Ladbrokes.com.au markets, last start Memsie Stakes winner Black Heart Bart.
The former Perth-trained son of Blackfriars comes into the Makybe Diva having run top two in his past seven starts, including two Group 1 wins.
The first was in Adelaide’s The Goodwood (1200m) back in May before the impressive 1.25 length victory in the Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield a fortnight back.
The since-suspended Brad Rawiller rode Black Heart Bart to victory in the Memsie, but it is gun hoop Damien Oliver taking his place in Saturday’s mile classic.
Oliver is a four-time Makybe Diva Stakes winning jockey having enjoyed a quartet of wins aboard: Marble Halls (1997), Sky Heights (1999), Vigor (2009) and most recently Fawkner (2015) for trainer Robert Hickmott 12 months ago.
As for the Memsie Stakes form, the previous year Dissident (2014) completed the double winning the Makybe Diva Stakes next-up, which Black Heart Bart is at around $2.20 odds to do again this weekend.
Weir has a total of three runners in the Makybe Diva Stakes line-up this season with the favourite joined by Prince Of Penzance and Palentino drawn in barrier 12 and five respectively.
Pentire seven-year-old Prince Of Penzance is best known for his win at 101/1 odds in last year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
He has raced just twice since that historic upset in the ‘race that stops a nation’ including his second last when 11th behind stablemate Black Hart Bart in the Memsie.
The extra metres will serve him well this weekend second-up, Prince Of Penzance having had four runs for two wins and a second over the mile to date, with John Allen the latest jockey to pick up the ride on the veteran stayer.
Palentino meanwhile gets a gun run with Mark Zahra aboard, the Teofilo stallion a Group 1 winner at the track and distance.
Back on March 5 he defeated Mick Price’s VRC Derby champion Tarzino home in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m).
He races at Flemington for the first time since on the back of a Memsie Stakes fifth.
Tarzino is also in the Makybe Diva Stakes mix representing the four-year-olds, Craig Newitt chasing his third win in the race.
Newitt rode past Makybe Diva Stakes winners Pompeii Ruler (2006) and Foreteller (2013) and continues his association on Price’s $1.6 million earning Tavistock stallion on Saturday.
No other jockey has ridden Tarzino across his 11 start career to date, which is headlined by the Group 1 wins in last year’s VRC Derby (2500m) and this autumn’s Rosehill Guineas (2000m) in Sydney.
Tarzino was last seen running nearly seven lengths away eighth in the Memsie Stakes, but Price remains confident he’s a winning hope this Saturday.
“He’ll be suited by the long run-in at Flemington and will hit the line strongly,” Price told the Herald Sun.
“He’s going really well.
“I’m mindful he’s still got a lot ahead of him, but he’ll balance up out the back and I’m looking forward to seeing him wind up.
“Then it’s going to be bang into the Underwood, the Turnbull and the Caulfield Cup.”
Racing Victoria took first declarations for the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), held on October 15, on Tuesday with Tarzino one of 108 stayers still in the mix.