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Not so … Fat Al.EVEN with Royal Randwick threatened by a possible bias, Fat Al, in today’s Epsom, should be able to avoid the ill wind that beset him last Saturday. Punters took $1.30 about Fat Al, with Nash Rawiller up, in the Shannon at Rosehill only to see him go down about a half-length to Rolling Pin over 1500 metres. Many figured the gelding would make the pace but trainer Gai Waterhouse, aware of the blustery conditions, advised her navigators to seek a windbreak with a sit off the pace. ”Needed to lead?” Winning Post said. ”He would have been beaten further if he had,” Rob Waterhouse, husband of the trainer and turf scholar, replied. Waterhouse is a believer in the wind factor affecting performance. Dom Beirne, for Betfair, said: ”Fat Al was not disappointing last Saturday – only if you backed him! He advanced two kilos and was racing second-up after a personal best first-up. Whilst expected by all to win, he was forced to race very close to the rail in inferior ground. He actually rated only one length below his personal best … ” Beirne has Fat Al on top from another four-year-old, Ambidexter. Some reckon what you’ve seen with Fat Al is as good as you’ll get, which won’t put him in group 1 class today, particularly against the quality of Shoot Out (58kg) despite the six-kilo pull in the weights. However, four-year-olds are the favoured age, winning 19 out of the past 29 Epsoms, while only one miler older than five had scored in the past 19 years. Until Secret Admirer took this race last year, mares had an appalling record. Hopefully the rail being moved out four metres today will eliminate the slower inside section, apparent at the last Randwick meeting two weeks back. So Super Saturday can return on the once-great racing surface. While the four-year-olds’ weights advantage appeals, the Chris Waller knack of making old-timers run younger will be put to the test with Shoot Out (six) and Rangirangdoo (eight); he also has four-year-old Said Com ready to explode. Waterhouse has Kontiki Park and Wild And Proud, the same vintage as Fat Al, in support. My shortlist is Shoot Out, Secret Admirer, Ambidexter, Fat Al and Said Com. Going on the theory that Waterhouse horses grow a leg at headquarters, evidenced by his decision over Ambidexter in the Packer Plate last autumn, Fat Al is the pea.
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Verdict: Fat Al from Ambidexter and Shoot Out.GO THE BATTLER

”Lamasery has a great turn of speed and the drop down to 54.5kg is massive for him. From the good barrier draw [one] he will have no problem with the 2400m and I expect him to show his class,” Will Norman (Tattsbet) said on the Racenet poll of leading betting houses about the little Aussie battler in the Metrop. Lamasery takes on staying talent from abroad, including the Waller army – Permit, Stout Hearted and Kelinni – and Waterhouse’s import Glencadam Gold, which is working like a train. Waterhouse has him on an upward spiral. Permit could be the best of Waller’s but not by much. Lamasery ticks all the boxes.

Verdict: Lamasery.AFFAIR QUERY

Rain Affair, which looked and raced like a hairy goat last start, will be out to make amends in the Premiere Stakes. Starting at a $1.50, he was beaten four lengths in the Concorde. ”Terrible first-up and was then scratched from next start as trainer said he wasn’t happy with how he was going. Won a weak trial since but willing to risk at $2.10,” said Michael Felgate (Centrebet). Emotional Circus could surprise if she returns to her form of two starts back behind More Joyous. I’m gambling on Rain Affair having more of a glow about him and racing something like his old self.

Verdict: Rain Affair.CUP POINTER

The Turnbull at Flemington is a defining race for the spring majors and good judges reckon December Draw, to the eye, is much better than his first campaign. Before going amiss last spring, December Draw was very good indeed and if his form improves like the appearance, the gelding is going to be hard to beat. Another import Voila Ici, now with Peter Moody, is strongly fancied and Green Moon prime. The most likely improver is Ethiopia. Perhaps the Flemington rail is out nine metres but it usually races fair.

Verdict: December Draw.

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