Expect a dazzling run from Franfield
TOUGH as a diamond, that’s how this year’s $13.9m Diamond Mile line-up appears on paper – a full field of 16, the top-earning horses in the land.
A great mix of speed, pace and stamina at a mile, with most of the top contenders sitting almost level, bar the three-year-old, BIGDADDYKOOL, makes the event the race of the year, upstaging last month’s 10-furlong Superstakes.
Last year’s champion, SEEKING MY DREAM, at four years old, was floored by improved horses in his last two races – speedy BUZZ NIGHTMARE in the Gold Cup and old rival FRANFIELD, who led from start to finish in the Superstakes but was disqualified for hindering late-charging BIGDADDYKOOL inside the last half furlong.
Of that quartet, FRANFIELD, the horse with the least chink in his armour, is handicapped and should lift the Diamond Mile with Dane Nelson aboard.
Pencilled in at 55.0 kilos, the Richard Azan-trained five-year-old sits level with SEEKING MY DREAM and the sprinter BUZZ NIGHTMARE, horses expected to dictate the fractions. He is also better off at the handicaps than BIGDADDYKOOL, now allowing the St Leger winner four pounds as opposed to seven in the Superstakes.
Displaying a newfound versatility, FRANFIELD’s improvement was none more evident than the times he clocked in his last two races over 10 furlongs – moving from 2:08.3 in October’s Governor General’s Stakes to 2:06.2 in the Superstakes.
The pace of the race is predictable with BUZZ NIGHTMARE, CHACE THE GREAT, SEEKING MY DREAM and CAMPESINO all expected to make their bid on or about the lead, leaving a second group to chase, which should include FRANFIELD, PERFECT NEIGHBOUR and others such as BIGDADDYKOOL.
BUZZ NIGHTMARE will cost that entire front group the race as they will have hell matching his speed to, at least, the home turn, setting up a finish for the closers.
SEEKING MY DREAM pulled it off last year, coming from just off the pace. He had 53.0 kilos and his stablemate, FORTUNEONEHUNDRED, setting a false pace, running UPPA TUNE off the lead, which FRANFIELD went in chase of, ran wide and blew up coming off the home turn.
BUZZ NIGHTMARE looked awesome in the Gold Cup as the lone speed when dismissing SEEKING MY DREAM, who allowed him 16lb. However, when he returned with 126lb in the 1200-metre Caribbean Sprint on Superstakes Day, CRUCIAL APPEAL pressed him relentlessly, resulting in CAMPESINO pouncing and going by early in the stretch run.
At a mile, with SEEKING MY DREAM much closer in the handicaps, BUZZ NIGHTMARE will be hard pressed to stay the distance. However, the defending champion has issues of his own inside the last two furlongs of his races, especially after duelling speed horses.
FRANFIELD’s victory over SEEKING MY DREAM in March’s 1500-metre Chairman’s Trophy was a classic case. However, SEEKING MY DREAM was allowing his rival 10lb then, which should swing the pendulum his way in the Diamond Mile.
Distance, however, and BUZZ NIGHTMARE’s torrid pace, tilts the race in FRANFIELD’s favour as he is the toughest of the lot, who will be closing for the kill off the home turn.
BIGDADDYKOOL has improved tremendously and, along with PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, should be his threat from off the pace.