The 2017 Underwood Stakes Form Guide is essential reading for racing fans and punters ahead of Sunday’s Group 1 feature race at Caulfield Racecourse.
Only nine horses have been confirmed in the Underwood Stakes field, but the depth of talent set to step out has led to a particularly open betting market with several live chances.
We have analysed every runner in the Underwood Stakes in detail, in order to help you find the race winner.
Outstanding Godolphin horse Hartnell has returned to racing in typically smart form this time and is the one to beat in the 2017 Underwood Stakes field. A multiple winner at the highest level of racing, Hartnell found career-best form through last year’s Spring Carnival; running second to Winx twice, winning each of the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m), Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and ending his year third in the Melbourne Cup. Resuming this time for a dominant win in the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m), the Authorized gelding finished second behind a sharp Humidor in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) a fortnight ago, but will relish a step up to 1800m and should just win the Underwood Stakes.
Black Heart Bart
Five-time Group 1 winner Black Heart Bart has returned to racing in typically smart form this time and should be right in the finish of the Underwood Stakes; a race he comfortably won in 2016. The Blackfriars gelding won both the Group 1 Ladbrokes CF Orr Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Ladbrokes Futurity Stakes (1400m) most notably in autumn this year, but he formed tailed off noticeably and he was sent to the paddock after failing to fire in Brisbane. Black Heart Bart has so-far finished third in the PB Lawrence Stakes, second in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) and third in the Makybe Diva Stakes this time and will be rock-hard fit for his run in the Underwood Stakes.
Gailo Chop is at peak form after more than a year away from racing and the French import is a live chance in the Underwood Stakes at each-way odds. Winner of the 2015 Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) while under the care of Alain De Watrigant, the Deportivo gelding failed to beat a single runner home in the PB Lawrence Stakes first-up this time, but returned to winning form via an impressive performance in the Listed Penny Edition Stakes (1400m) on September 2nd. Having worked to the line well for fourth in the Makybe Diva Stakes, Gailo Chop will have plenty of early options from the rails draw and will be partnered by in-form hoop Mark Zahra.
He’s Our Rokkii
He’s Our Rokkii is capable of producing a big run under the right conditions and he could find those in the Underwood Stakes. The Roc De Cambes gelding flew home to win the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) during an impressive spring campaign last year, but simply failed to come up in the spring and was sent to the paddock after failing to beat a runner hone in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m). Running on well to finish fourth in the PB Lawrence Stakes first-up this time, He’s Our Rokkii failed to sustain to the line after leading in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes, but is likely to be ridden quieter in the Underwood Stakes and may appreciate a step up in trip.
Inference has failed to make much of an impact through two starts this time in, but he should be approaching peak fitness and will enjoy stepping up in trip. The So You Think entire ended a smart 2016 campaign third in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) and resumed this year for fifth in the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m), before storming home to post a maiden win at the highest level in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m). Second in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and sixth in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m), Inference has finished towards the tail of the field in both the PB Lawrence Stakes and Makybe Diva Stakes and would need to improve tenfold if he is to win the Underwood Stakes.
Group 1 winner Single Gaze has steadily built to the task this time and is ready to peak third-up under ideal conditions in the Underwood Stakes. The daughter of Not A Single Doubt was a smart winner of the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) in the autumn of 2016, but suffered a nasty fall in the Australian Oaks and missed the Spring Carnival with injury. Single Gaze was strong and consistent through the Brisbane Winter Carnival this year; winning both the Listed Tails Stakes (1600m) and Group 2 PJ O’Shea Stakes (2200m) most notably and finishing second in both the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) and Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2200m). Running on well for fifth following a tough time in transit in the Makybe Diva Stakes, Single Gaze should find a far-better position in the Underwood Stakes from barrier 4.
Abbey Marie is another horse that has returned to racing in competitive form this time and she is a live chance of winning the Underwood Stakes on Saturday. Winner of the Group 1 Australasian Oaks (2000m) at only her third career start in 2016, the Redoute’s Choice mare clearly required a run when seventh in the PB Lawrence Stakes first-up, but flashed home last for a close second in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, before overcoming plenty of traffic to finish fifth in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) last weekend. A step back in trip shouldn’t be an issue and Abbey Marie should find a position behind the early speed from a central draw.
Outstanding mare Bonneval carries winning form into the Underwood Stakes, will only improve second-up and will relish a step up to 1800m. The daughter of Makfi was a standout in her native New Zealand in autumn this year and won the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m), before crossing the ditch to also win the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) with complete ease. Trainer Murray Baker didn’t expect much from Bonneval when she took her place in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes field first-up, but her class proved too much for a talented field and she comfortably won the race. Drawn ideally in barrier 3, Bonneval will be ridden by Hugh Bowman and will be extremely difficult to beat.
Former Perth galloper Samovare has produced several good performances and results since transferring to the Lindsay Park team and is worth consideration at each-way Underwood Stakes odds. Ending her west coast tenure with a smart win in the Group 3 WA Championship Stakes (1600m), the Savabeel mare finished second in a pair 1400m races at Flemington before returning to winning form in the Ladbrokes Odds Boost BM84 (1600m) on September 9th. Having run second behind Harlem in the Naturalism Stakes last weekend, Samovare is at peak fitness and would not look out of place in the Underwood Stakes first three.