Placing a bet on a favourite – some punters can’t get enough of them, while others steer clear of them. Racing writer Justin Devine looks at some of the more fancied runners for this weekend’s horse racing and decides if he loves them 😍 or if he should leave ❎ them!

What a fantastic day of racing we have this weekend! The big guns are coming out to play. With a dominant win in the Darley Sprint in November, NATURE STRIP stamped himself as Australia’s premier sprinter and he looks the goods in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes. A star-studded field goes around in the Group 3 CS Hayes at Caulfield, and ALLIGATOR BLOOD should get the job done, with New Zealand visitor CATALYST a big “watch” in the race. Promising stayer SHE’S IDEEL looks the best of the day at Randwick on what looks a competitive card 😍. ALIZEE will strip fitter second-up in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes, but I’m happy to oppose the star second up, while LIBERTINI looks under the odds in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes. At Eagle Farm USMANOV will need plenty of luck in the run to win in the big field and will continue to prove costly for punters ❎.

Good Luck Punters!

Flemington R7 – 2. Nature Strip @ $1.55 😍

Made the best sprinters in the land look second rate when a dominant winner of the Darley Spring Classic (below) in Melbourne Cup week. That was arguably the performance of the spring carnival. Resumes here on after a couple of impressive trials and will make his own luck on the speed as always. 12 wins from 20 career starts and over $4 million in prizemoney says it all. He’s a star and the best of the day.

BET NOW ON BLACK CAVIAR LIGHTNING HERE:

Randwick R2 – 4. She’s Ideel @ $1.80 😍

The Bjorn Baker trained mare is racing in good form with back to back wins and looks a stayer with plenty of potential. She rounded up her rivals impressively last start (below) and the step up to 2400 metres this week looks perfect. Is 2 from 2 on soft going and should get a gun run from barrier 1 for Jason Collett. Yes please.

BET NOW RANDWICK RACE 2  HERE:

Flemington R5 – 3. Alligator Blood @ $2 😍

Despite only having seven runners, the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes looms as the most exciting race of the day. New Zealand star CATALYST crosses the ditch looking for win number seven on the trot and has impressed trackwork clockers since arriving. DALASAN will strip fitter and appreciate the step up to 1400 metres while Magic Millions 3yo Guineas (below) winner ALLIGATOR BLOOD continues to take his connections on a fairytale ride. ALLIGATOR BLOOD’S only defeat was a last gasp second in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas to the equally impressive SUPER SETH in the spring. Nothing went right prior to the Magic Millions for the David Vandyke galloper, and it didn’t matter. The $2 quote looks over the odds and I’m with him. Go🐊!

BET NOW ON CS HAYES STAKES HERE:

NFL

Randwick R7 – 4. Libertini @ $2.80 

The dual Group 2 winner returns on Saturday on the back of a couple of soft trials. LIBERTINI was a winner of the Group 2 Silver Shadow Stakes first-up last time. Her win strike rate is impressive. This is a hot field and the wide gate and the soft track first-up over the 1200 metres is a concern. I’m happy to bet around her this week. Pass.

BET NOW ON LIGHT FINGER STAKES HERE:

Randwick R8 – 8.Alizee @ $2.90 ❎

What to make of ALIZEE?  She looked a little disappointing first up in the Group 2 Expressway and steps up to a more favourable 1400 metres here. Gate 1 on a soft track late in the day is a concern, as is a second up record of one win from five attempts. To state the obvious, she is a star. She might brain them here. I got burnt first up. Leave me out on Saturday!

BET NOW ON APOLLO STAKES HERE:

Eagle Farm R3 – 8. Usmanov  @ $2.80 ❎

The Edmonds trained galloper was an impressive winner at the Gold Coast three runs back, before failing at his last two runs when well supported. Apprentice Baylee Nothdurft is going to be under pressure to find a good spot from gate 10 before producing the 4yo gelding in the straight. In an open race and big field, he looks under the odds and I’m betting around him. Pass.

BET NOW ON EAGLE FARM RACE 3 HERE: