Bendigo's Golden Mile meeting is always a good betting affair and with Easter Cup and St Leger meetings around the corner you can almost smell the sweet tarmac of the road to the Winter Championships. What a time to be alive.
A simple glance at Saturday's Bendigo card and you can feel the autumnul air, cool to the touch, and smell the leaves as they fall. It is this connection to the seasons that is one of the many (many) great things about racing. That, and betting.
The Golden Mile itself throws up a lovely chance to have a bet and we don't need to be asked twice.
Few horses in Victoria are deserving of more credit in recent times than Munhamek who has dipped below a rating of 100 once in 11 runs this campaign and fronts up as the early favourite. We won't begrudge him that position but it hardly looks as clear cut at the current betting suggests.
Visinari was well held on his return to racing but did land in a tricky enough spot there and is far better suited out to the mile with that run under his belt. A friend of the Melbourne Mail, having been thrown up here a couple of times last winter, Visinari looks quickly abandoned by the betting as a general 12/1 chance having been sent off more than twice as likely in the Crystal Mile just two starts back.
He was well held there but still took a slight step forward from his first up (winning) rating in a fast race and he was solid again in the Cranbourne Cup, another fast race, thereafter.
Those ratings are right in the thick of this and there is some hope that he can go a touch better, for all that the fresh run didn't exactly say that was likely right now. Beau Mertens switches on and deserves mention for his form in the past three months. Mertens has been having a positive impact and horses that he has switched on have seen their ratings improve notably on average. As a consequence he has outridden the market to the tune of seven winners in that time.
Of course regression to the mean is always lurking around the corner as Here To Shock's jockey Daniel Stackhouse could attest. He was on a Mertensesque streak running into March but has now slipped into a run of 40 outs.
Stackhouse will be out to put an end to that and he has the right book to do so with Here To Shock one of several strong chances. We will be hoping that the best of them turns out to be Caboche in the fourth race which Stackhouse rides for Chris Waller.
Caboche might not appeal as one to nail the colours to, 14 runs on from his most recent success, but he has been very reliable viewed through a ratings lens and his two runs when switched south at the same point of last campaign highlight him as stiff opposition for promising early favourite Sing For Peace.
Caboche was sent down the Hume Highway with a similar platform last prep and pitched up on a day as grand as Coongy Handicap Day where he stayed well to finish third over 2400m on the undercard, giving weight to the two handy ones that beat him home and went on to give the form a warm look.
That was followed by another solid third behind the highly touted (and rated) White Marlin on Cup Day which leaves Caboche with a record of three thirds from as many starts at 2400m or further.
All three of those placings are underpinned by ratings that would be good enough to win here barring Sing For Peace making good progress to reel him in, a scenario that could certainly play out, but the odds make Caboche the most appealing option.
THE MELBOURNE MAIL
Best Of The Day: Race 4 #4 Caboche @ $6.50
Each Way Play: Race 8 #6 Visinari @ $13.00