The Melbourne Mail: Sandown - 11th February 2023

Group One racing returns for 2023 with the CF Orr Stakes back where it belongs - at Sandown.

I'M THUNDERSTRUCK winning the PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes
I'M THUNDERSTRUCK winning the PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes Picture: Colin Bull / Sportpix


The return to Sandown will be music to the ears of I'm Thunderstruck  (early 80's Australian pub rock presumably) with the Caulfield 1400m (which hosts more Group Ones than just about any course in the world for reasons beyond comprehension) set up to expose the key weakness in Thunderstruck's game. 

That weakness is his first 600m. There is no doubting the quality of his finishing game but his opening quarters have meant, more often than not, that his strong finishing is to no avail - a single win in 11 starts in 2022 a disappointing return for one with so much talent. 

If he keeps giving up four goals in the first quarter a couple of hangers in the last will continue to provide little more than filler for the highlight reel, but master coaches Price and Kent have spun the magnets around and have thrown Jamie Kah onto the ball for a bit of 'go forward'.

That can be all important, and on body of work he deserves favoritism over his fancied stablemate and Golden Rose winner Jacquinot.

Thunderstruck was very nearly passed over for Melbourne Mail purposes but as his price leaks towards $4.50 he starts to appeal as a gamble worth making and as such is thrown up as a bet.

An interesting comparison comes with the action up the highway where the Apollo Stakes plays the role of the Orr for some of Sydney's stars. Chief among them is Anamoe, sparring parter of Thunderstruck in the spring where they had two stirring duels and one fizzer in weakly-contested Champions Stakes.

In those stirring duels at Caulfield and the Valley Thunderstruck walked away having run every bit as well as Anamoe - beaten in a flurry of heads and necks in both. Clearly there is little to split the pair and so Thunder's price viewed as a derivitive of Anamoe's odds-on quote in the Apollo seems out of line.

The key difference is that Anamoe comes without that first furlong fault. His ability to take up a position means that similar horsepower to Thunderstruck was carried to six wins from ten starts in 2022 as opposed to one from eleven...

But that record can change in 2023. Thunderstruck settled sixth of 12 to win a frantic Toorak and eighth of 18 in a similarly fast and busy Golden Eagle and won both in 2021. He can do it, and Kah is the jock for the job. 

Speaking of jockeys for the job, Blake Shinn goes back aboard Queen Of The Ball  in the Group Three Kevin Hayes Stakes having linked up once in the past for a peak rating and a win in a Melbourne Group Three.  

Queen Of The Ball now pitches up in a similar scenario, back against fillies after finishing last prep with a solid Schillaci run (sent out 3/1 if you don't mind!) and an even better effort in the Coolmore. 

There she paid the price late for doing plenty of running early but she walked away head held high and her fresh run last prep makes for some reading around the topliners in Sydney. 

They come from near and far on Saturday but there is nothing of the ilk of Zougotcha/In Secret among Queen Of The Ball's opposition and double figure prices look great value for money. 



Bet Of The Day: Race 7 #1 I'm Thunderstruck @ $4.50

Each Way Play: Race 5 #2 Queen Of The Ball @ $10.00

Racing and Sports