Leading form analyst Dominic Beirne is unsure about his 2014 Canterbury Stakes tips, but believes that Zoustar is no certainty to take out the Group 1 event at Royal Randwick this weekend.
Beirne has always had a high opinion of Zoustar, and tipped the talented colt to win the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, but he told RSN this morning that he believes there are a couple of queries over the son of Northern Meteor on in the Canterbury Stakes on Saturday.
The Royal Randwick track is currently in the slow range and Zoustar has had just one start on rain affected going, while Beirne is also of the opinion that the two-time Group 1 winner generally takes plenty of improvement out of his first-up run.
“This race entirely revolves around the weather and the track conditions,” Beirne said.
“I looked at the race at the race primarily in slow going and as such Zoustar does have a few obstacles.
“The second obstacle I think that he has is that, in his two preparations, he has improved significantly second-up and into his prep he has held his form or gone ahead a little bit.
“The computer leans on the fact that he advances a lot second-up and has marked him down for that and the computer marked him down for the slow track.”
Beirne admits that Zoustar is clearly the most talented horse in the Canterbury Stakes field and believes that the valuable stallion prospect would win the Group 1 event easily, if he can produce his best-form first-up.
“If you dismiss those first two things he would be more like a 5/4 chance and if you thought he could run to his potential figure than he would walk in; they just can’t get to him,” Beirne said.
“I would rather be sitting on the fence at this point with Zoustar; I don’t want to knock him or tip him.”
Zoustar ($2.70) is currently a clear favourite in 2014 Canterbury Stakes betting markets; with Team Hawkes-trained Not Listenin’tome the next most fancied runner at a quote of $4.20.
Not Listenin’tome returned to the races with a dominant win in the Group 3 Zeditave Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 22 and Beirne believes that he is capable of winning a Group 1 event, but is worried about how the son of Dylan Thomas will handle a slow track.
“Not Listenin’tome has come in a little bit higher than when he went out and he has certainly got his finger on a Group 1 success,” Beirne said.
“He gets a very good speed map here and he comes out around third pick on my figures.”
While Beirne is hesitant to make any galloper his 2014 Canterbury Stakes tip; the former bookmaker expects Red Tracer to produce her usual strong performance and advocated small each-way bets on outsiders Rain Affair ($17) , Speediness ($17) and Streama ($17).