THE Gai Waterhouse juvenile whirlwind, extending south in the form of No Looking Back, could prove the buffer between hot favourite Samaready and today's Blue Diamond at Caulfield.
Ratings experts have Samaready, which has impeccable credentials, at even shorter odds than the $2.20 on offer. Unlike No Looking Back, Samaready has Caulfield experience being trained on the track by Mick Price and having more of a romp than a win in Blue Diamond Prelude for fillies there over 1100 metres on February 11. The extension to 1200m promises to suit her even better.
''I bumped into Mick Price earlier who trains Samaready, the short-priced favourite for this week's Blue Diamond,'' Waterhouse blogged. ''Mick exuded confidence and why wouldn't he? My filly, No Looking Back (Redoute's Choice x Mirror Mirror), has drawn on the border of NSW and Victoria but my darling husband (Robbie Waterhouse), who I greatly respect, doesn't see it as a problem. And I know I have a filly who is ready to fire … ''
Alas, her bookmaker son, Tom (tomwaterhouse.com) is a Samaready supporter. ''The constant stream of support only got stronger after the barrier draw and she may start in the red,'' he wrote, making Samaready his best bet.
With the reserves out, No Looking Back, under Nash Rawiller, launches from 15, while Samaready (Craig Newitt) comes into seven, on paper ideal. However, Knowledge (1997) and Redoute's Choice (1999) scored from 15. Over that period only one winner jumped out of seven - Kusi (2003) after the winner Roedean, ironically prepared by Price, was disqualified following a positive sample.
Possibly a point in favour of No Looking Back is the suspect depth of Melbourne youngsters. No Looking Back is coming out of the Magic Millions, hardly the regular springboard for the Blue Diamond, and will be having her first race attempt in the reverse direction. Still, two different sources report No Looking Back has been flying the Melbourne way in Randwick gallops with Pierro, which is regarded by many insiders as the best two-year-old in the stable.
Wise guys figure down the outside is the best course at Caulfield, so close surveillance early is necessary to consider any impact of the rail being back in the normal position.
Apart from Samaready and No Looking Back, be wary of David Hayes's pair, General Rippa and particularly Mama's Choice, to be ridden by Dwayne Dunn who has the knack with Blue Diamonds and is chasing his fifth success.
Blinkers, too, could assist Members Joy but she's more for exotics.
Verdict: First 4 - Samaready 1, No Looking Back 2, Mama's Choice 3, Members Joy 4.WEIGHT DEBATE
The does-weight-matter debate is on the boil over Sepoy, winner of the last Blue Diamond, in the Oakleigh Plate. ''His biggest task to date and with the weight [and] barrier  his price doesn't justify the risk attached to win,'' Will Norman (Tattsbet) said on the Racenet poll of leading betting houses. Bel Sprinter, at four, a year older than Sepoy, has won five out of six. Sepoy has a 58 kilogram equaliser because of his 10 out of 11 successes. Bel Sprinter looked good winning at Caulfield when resuming on February 4 and from the five gate should get a sweet run. Curtana has supporters due to weights-and-measures. Last October, Curtana was beaten 1.3 lengths by Sepoy at Caulfield but meets him on 3.5kg better terms today.
Verdict: Bel Sprinter ($3.10).IMPORTS ABOUND
Due to international stayers such as Manighar, Lucas Cranach and Illo, the Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield is one of the best races of the day, superior to the group 1 Futurity. Maybe being in the vicinity of Black Caviar has injected speed into Manighar going on his recent Caulfield triumph for Peter Moody. However, the imports are taking on Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed, which is set for a bold campaign. ''Southern Speed has come back better than ever and will have a significant edge over main rivals,'' Mark Cruickshank (Betchoice) said. Southern Speed raced against Black Caviar last start and earned the Winning Post comment: ''Not knocked about.'' Note, too, that Glass Harmonium, winner of the Mackinnon two starts back, has since had a throat operation.
Verdict: Manighar ($4).TRACK BIAS
The vagaries of Caulfield were emphasised by Slow The Flow, a contender in the Mannerism Stakes. ''Slow The Flow was a huge run on the inside part of the track last start, is even better suited at 1400m and looks sensational value,'' Neil Evans (Centrebet) said. Vintedge should be prominent despite her poor first-up credentials. Vintedge has had two barrier trials, appreciates the distance and Melbourne direction.