Arcadia Queen and Melody Belle look to add to their Group 1 tallies in the Mackinnon Stakes

CHAMPION mares Arcadia Queen and Melody Belle look to be the ones to beat in Saturday’s Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington.

Herald Sun tipster Gilbert Gardiner thinks West Australian mare Arcadia Queen has the edge on her rivals after a brilliant Caulfield Stakes win and good subsequent Cox Plate performance.

Dual Group 1 winner Fifty Stars could be the main danger with Melody Belle charging at them late.


GARDINER’S TIPS

1 Arcadia Queen

2 Fifty Stars

3 Melody Belle

4 Dalasan

1 HARLEM $16

Jockey: Craig Williams

Trainer: Tom Dabernig & Ben Hayes

Barrier 3, 59kg

9yo gelding. Starts: 44: 5-3-3

Threatened to breakthrough at Caulfield last start when second behind Nonconformist. Six starts at Flemington for two wins – the 2018 and 2019 Australian Cups – but they have been his only triumphs in the past 25 starts.

VERDICT: Very genuine but hard to have with any confidence.

2 FIFTY STARS $10

Jockey: John Allen

Trainer: Tom Dabernig & Ben Hayes

Barrier 8, 59kg

6yo stallion. Starts: 26: 10-3-1

Hit the line in the Group 1 Cantala like a horse screaming out for 2000m. Looks a target for the 2020 Australian Cup winner. Drawn out but should be right in the finish.

VERDICT: Each-way special. Might find the mares too slick but he‘s very tough.

3 MR QUICKIE $10

Jockey: Luke Nolen

Trainer: Philip Stokes

Barrier 3, 59kg

5yo gelding. Starts: 24: 10-5-2

Never a factor in the Cantala after winning the Group 1 Toorak Handicap the start prior. Drawn nicely and if able to settle closer to the speed could give some cheek.

VERDICT: Runs into a hot field and usually performs best earlier in his preparations.

4 MIRAGE DANCER $26

Jockey: Michael Dee

Trainer: Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young

Barrier 7, 59kg

7yo stallion. Starts: 27: 5-5-6

Copped a checked at the 600m in the Caulfield Cup and dropped right out of it. Probably not suited by the soft conditions either. Won the Group 1 The Metropolitan at Randwick the start prior, holding out Mugatoo in a driving finish. Gets conditions to suit again.

VERDICT: Drops back in trip after back-to-back 2400m runs but has the class to make the adjustment.

5 MUGATOO $4.80

Jockey: Hugh Bowman

Trainer: Kris Lees

Barrier 9, 59kg

6yo gelding. Starts: 16: 8-2-1

Outside of the winner was arguably the run of the Cox Plate, charging late to finish fourth after doing a power of early work. Former international has done nothing but impress since coming to Australia and a Group 1 win seems well within his grasp.

VERDICT: With even luck should be right in the finish.

6 SKYWARD $23

Jockey: Glen Boss

Trainer: Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young

Barrier 4, 59kg

5yo stallion. Starts: 8: 4-0-0

Needed to win the Geelong Cup to be any chance of sneaking into the Melbourne Cup but finished fifth after a slow start. Form in France behind the late Anthony Van Dyke and Stradivarius reads superbly but he might find these too sharp at 2000m.

VERDICT: Not a heap of speed engaged but if they do go nuts he could be coming at them late.

7 DALASAN $13

Jockey: Jamie Kah

Trainer: Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas

Barrier 2, 58.5kg

4yo stallion. Starts: 20: 7-4-2

Was fancied in the Caulfield Cup after running well in the Turnbull Stakes the start before but proved to be no match even with a light weight. Will appreciate dropping back to 2000m and the bigger track. Few jockeys going better than Kah at the minute also.

VERDICT: Certainly one for the exotics but will have a hard time winning this.

8 MELODY BELLE $5

Jockey: Jye McNeil

Trainer: Jamie Richards

Barrier 6, 57kg

6yo mare. Starts: 34: 17-1-5

Winner of 12 Group 1s, including the Empire Rose Stakes at Flemington last year. The Kiwi mare went back to New Zealand im August after struggling to make an impact in Sydney and duly collected her past two Group 1s. Any give in the ground a bonus.

VERDICT: Gets back in her races so will need some luck but oozes class and quality.

9 ARCADIA QUEEN $3.20

Jockey: Luke Currie

Trainer: Grant and Alana Williams

Barrier 5, 57kg

5yo mare. Starts: 14: 7-1-2

Had excuses in the Cox Plate but still chased hard in unsuitable soft conditions. Firmer the better and will take a power of beating. Defeated Russian Camelot in the Caulfield Stakes previously.

VERDICT: Clearly the one to beat. Can truck up behind the leaders and surge past them.

10 SHOUT THE BAR $17

Jockey: Damien Oliver

Trainer: Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott

Barrier 10, 56.5kg

4yo mare. Starts: 9: 4-1-0

Bobbed up to win the Empire Rose at big odds and gets a chance to go back-to-back at Group 1 level. Won the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) in Sydney in the autumn so extra 400m not a problem at all.

VERDICT: Nice mare on the rise but will need to find additional lengths to be competitive.

Originally published asQueens of the turf: Mackinnon Stakes preview

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