Wine Country Race Club will host its first meeting of the year at Cessnock today. It’s a strong seven-race program with Warwick Farm trainer Greg Hickman on the Gold Coast with his crack colt Pierata, a good chance of landing a double.
Hickman who was foreman for Colleen Underhill at Cessnock before moving to Warwick Farm and will be represented by Kitana (race 2, $4.80 with TAB fixed odds), Cozursmart (race 5, $2.10 fav) and Serket (race 6, $31).
Kitana runs in the 900 metre Royal Oak Hotel Class 2 Handicap with Jess Taylor in the saddle. The filly finished strongly to narrowly win a 900 metre Newcastle Maiden on December 23. Kitana has genuine speed and from the four barrier, she won’t be far off the speed.
Cozursmart is favourite in the 900 metre IGA Liquor Maiden Plate. The filly was a close third behind Kitana at Newcastle last start and she will come out of the rails barrier.
Cozursmart is nicely weighted under the set weight scale and she was narrowly beaten in her only appearance at Cessnock in November. Hickman’s Pierata is favourite for Saturdays Magic Millions Guineas.
Kris Lees also has prospects of winning a race at Cessnock with Biscuit Time (r2, $2.80 fav). Biscuit Time is a bold front-runner and will contest the 900 metre Royal Oak Hotel Class 2 Handicap. He takes on Kitana and he is a lot fitter now after two runs back. Biscuit Time is a winner on the track over this trip.
Lees's Notting Hill, a regally bred Pierro filly part-owned by Coolmore, will run at Kempsey in race 2 where she is the $1.20 favourite. She was unlucky on debut at Taree recently and this is not an over-strong lot.
Aaron Bullock has four rides and he will make the trip to Wine Country full of confidence. He has two rides for Lees - Biscuit Time and Bestowal (r5, $2.50) which should run well. Bullock will be aboard Silent Dream (r3, $4.40) which has a chance and impressive last start winner Testaview (r7, $1.85 fav).
The latter, trained by Jason Deamer, bolted in at Taree last start and he runs in the final event, the 1570 metre Class 1 East Cessnock Bowling Club Handicap. My best is Cozursmart in race 5.