Turn it up! Great week continues

Two of the greatest weeks a southern thoroughbred enthusiast could ask for effectively overlap on Saturday as the last day of the Melbourne Cup carnival coincides with the first day of the New Zealand Cup carnival.

Saturday is a day for the purists as the hype of the Melbourne Cup makes way for two superb races in the Mackinnon Stakes and the VRC Classic.

The usual script is set to play out at Riccarton Park in Christchurch where a strong North Island contingent will attempt to swoop on South Island riches.

Here is my take on the features.

Pegasus Stakes at Riccarton, tomorrow at 2.25pm

Sensei will bring a class edge as he returns from an extended autumn and winter spell

He looked ready to resume when he coasted along in a recent Ashburton trial in which he was not asked for anything serious.

The third-placegetter in last year's Telegraph should beat this field if he runs up to his form.

Of course, Signify is a previous Telegraph winner, but at a different stage of his career.

He is threat if Sensei is off his game, but I would have Casaquinman and Don Carlo ahead of him.

The Two Thousand Guineas, Riccarton, 3.43pm

Though it is a group 1 race and they are never easy to win, this race looks predictable.

Catalyst should be winning easily.

Punters are best to focus on their multiple bets and look at who may fill the placings.

That challenge looks just as simple. Callsign Mav gave the rest of the field that met Catalyst in the Hawke's Bay Guineas a good thrashing and is a clear second pick.

I like Sherwood Forrest for third. He clearly relishes 1600m.

The VRC Classic, Flemington, tomorrow at 4.50pm

This will be undoubtedly be the most exciting minute on a racetrack this weekend for me.

All the talk and the money has been for Santa Ana Lane and rightfully so, given his run in The Everest. He loves Flemington, loves straight racing and is a deserved favourite.

One thing is certain: Nature Strip will give him an almighty test.

His transformation under Chris Waller and James McDonald has made him so much more of a force than he previously was.

New Zealand runner The Bostonian faces a big challenge against this classy Australian pair.

The Metropolitan Trophy, Riccarton, at 5.03pm

Now is the time for star South Island stayer Dee And Gee to stand up.

The wet tracks have (hopefully) gone and she is out to a decent staying trip of 2500m.

She needs to run well in preparation for next weekend's New Zealand Cup and I think she can - at good odds for a Wellington Cup runner-up.

Felaar is in a similar position and needs to lift his game now that he has a suitable race. and

Duplicity has excellent recent form, which some of these horses are clearly lacking, following her good second in the Feilding Gold Cup. And so does Zentessa, who was third in the Spring Classic at Riccarton on October 26.

The Mackinnon Stakes, Flemington, at 6.55pm

Can New Zealand's mighty mare do it again? Melody Belle was brilliant in the Empire Rose Stakes last weekend.

She is capable of going close, though she faces a different task tomorrow. She steps up from fillies and mares company to compete against some race-hardened Australian gallopers such as Hartnell and Kings Will Dream, and some intriguing international runners including Melbourne Cup runner Magic Wand.

Her wide draw means she will effectively have to give her main rivals a head start, which makes for no easy task.

She can win and I will be cheering her on, but she will need to be at her absolute best to do it and so will rider Opie Bosson.

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