SEEKING CLARITY

Wednesday 22, 2017 2:00 PM By Best Bets

After stumping punters through the second half of the noughties, the Blue Diamond has been an easy kill from 2011 on.

The favourite has won Victoria’s richest juvenile race in five of the past six years, and the other time it was won by $6 second pick Pride of Dubai.

Saturday’s running seems anything but cut and dried, however, and as we go to press it’s uncertain which youngster will start the popular choice.

Markets after Tuesday’s barrier draw had equal favourites, with the awkwardly drawn filly Catchy easing to $5.50 and the well drawn gelding Property firming to the same price.

This represents an unusual level of indecision on the part of punters and bookies. None of the last five winning favourites has started at a price greater than $3.20, and in Pride of Dubai’s year the favourite (Fontiton) was a $2.25 chance.

The last time a Blue Diamond favourite started at $3.50 or better was 2008, when Wilander was a $4.80 chance and ran 10th to Reaan ($14).

While the punters appear puzzled, recent history suggests it should be relatively easy for us to prune back the Blue Diamond field.

Of the past 10 Diamond winners, seven have finished first or second in a Preview or Prelude at their final lead-up start.

The other three have won the open-sex black-type two-year-old race run three weeks before the Diamond. In the case of Sleek Chassis (2007) and Star Witness (2010) that was the Talindert, but after a calendar change it’s now the Chairman’s Stakes, won last year by subsequent Diamond winner Extreme Choice.

That leaves us with Property, Pariah, Catchy, Formality and Tulip.

Speaking of favourites, they have dominated both the Chipping Norton (12 of the past 19) and the Futurity (six of the past seven) in recent years.