By Ray Hickson
Tips and race by race preview by Ray Hickson for Saturday’s meeting at Royal Randwick. The track has improved into the good range, with a bit more give than recent meetings, and the rail is in the 4m position.
|Race 1 – 12:55PM TAB HIGHWAY HANDICAP (1600 METRES)|
It’s quite a competitive Highway and luck in running will play a significant role in the outcome. 1. Danetrille is going to need that ounce of luck to slot in but there’s about 600m of back straight to sort that out. He’s taken on open company in the country and was narrowly beaten two starts ago before quite a dominant performance at Wagga’s Riverside track on December 22. He’s proven at the mile, is at the top of his game and I can’t find any reason why he won’t be in the finish.
Danger: 6. So It Is will probably drift out to last from the outside and try to round them up and if there’s enough tempo to do that she will take holding out. She’s out of her class but her two runs back have suggested she’s close to a win with a nice fourth to Cradle Mountain first-up then she left it a bit too late at Nowra. Mile is perfect and she’s a big watch. 3. General Harmony does look very hard to beat though I have a reservation or two about him. Sprinted best in a slowly run race at Scone last time at his first go at a mile and is in the mix. 5. Bray is the likely leader, or will be right on the speed, and he’s posted two popular wins from as many starts this time in. Made very hard work of it last time over the 1300m, perhaps he’s looking for longer, and he should give another forward showing.
How to play it: Danetrille E/W ($6.50 TAB Fixed Odds).
Danetrille winning over a mile at Wagga Wagga on December 22
|Race 2 - 1:30PM 2018 ATC MEMBERSHIP SPRINT (1000 METRES)|
The first of a number of fascinating tactical battles coming up, if what looks like happening on paper materialises. There’s plenty of speed here and while it’s only 1000m surely something has to finish over the top. 1. Kennedy had no luck at all in a five horse field two weeks ago, sitting three wide on the speed and working but he kept fighting to be beaten a length. If Glyn Schofield can slot in somewhere just off them with cover he’s capable of picking them up.
Punters Intel: Kennedy covered 3m more than the winner at Randwick last start and ran his last 600m in 32.82 after sitting wide.
Dangers: 5. Pendeloque will need a smart ride as I can’t see her leading on her ear as she did when winning the event Kennedy finished third in. She has drawn soft, though, and has proven capable of winning from off the speed. I don’t think she’ll be too far back and she can only be fitter for the first-up win. Read what jockey James Innes Jnr thinks about her chances here. 3. Lightz is the one that could blouse them all if the pace that’s expected does occur. He was thrown in the deep end quite a bit as a two-year-old and didn’t measure up but his last two runs, when right back in grade have been excellent. Found himself too far back around Gosford last time but attacked the line hard. Freshened up and a nice trial since (beating a horse called Moss Trip who should run well at Kembla on Saturday). Must include. 4. From Within recovered very well from doing a backflip behind the stalls on December 30 (late scratching, race won by Pendeloque) to back up two days later and run third at Randwick. She loomed up to win that race over the 1000m so all things considered it wasn’t a bad effort. D-Day for her now though.
How to play it: Kennedy E/W ($4.00 TAB Fixed Odds).
Kennedy tracks wide when third to Pendeloque at Randwick – December 30
|Race 3 - 2:05PM TAB HANDICAP (2400 METRES)|
If they run to usual pattern then Coonawarra and Great Glen should set up a reasonable tempo and give every horse its chance to win, and turn it into a true staying test. With that in mind 2. Richard Of Yorke appears ready to win after three runs back, the latest an eye-catching third over the same course on Boxing Day. He loves it with a bit of give in the track and should get that here and he meets Cordero better at the weights for a 0.6 length defeat. That will bring them very close and now he’s at peak fitness he can turn the tables. Hard to be too bullish though.
Dangers: 3. Cordero is the logical threat. He was 1900m up to 2400m when winning last start so that run over the trip will have him in good stead. I think he will go one of two ways – either he’s a progressive stayer and can keep climbing or this is his level and he’s a bit vulnerable creeping up in the weights. We’ll find out. 1. Great Glen has really found his calling of late with the daring front running tactics and while he hasn’t won he has been right in the finish. I can’t see tactics changing too much given how effective they’ve been and I’m sure he’ll give a sight. 4. Lead Choreographer was a bit one-paced in the same race as Great Glen at Warwick Farm last time but his previous effort, when narrowly beaten, was sound. On trial at the trip but you can never dismiss a Waller stayer in one of these races.
How to play it: Richard Of Yorke E/W ($5.50 TAB Fixed Odds); Quinella with Cordero.
Richard Of Yorke’s third to Cordero at Randwick – December 26
|Race 4 - 2:40PM BOOK SUMMER HOSPITALITY TODAY HANDICAP (1200 METRES)|
It’s going to take a heady ride but 5. Reach For Heaven looks set for a first-up win. I say that about the steer on this four-year-old because there looks to be only one leader (Bratislava) and, as well as he appears to be coming along, he won’t want to be chasing down three or four lengths with 300m to run. He showed that he’s capable in town with a nice third back in July then went to a break a dominant winner on his home track. Two trials have him ready to go and it’s hard not to want to back him after watching the latest. Aaron Bullock rode him in that second trial, you can read his thoughts here, and he looks the one to stop.
Dangers: 2. Bratislava as mentioned is the likely leader and there is a chance he has a controlling lead. I thought he had his chance at Warwick Farm last time but he is back a notch and rises 4kg for that drop. Against that he won with 61.5kg first-up. 8. Tip Top ripped home from the back when he resumed over the 1000m on New Year’s Day and up in trip he might be able to settle a bit closer. Consistent type with no weight on his back and if he run up to his fresh effort he can feature. 4. Adjective was a decent drifter in betting first-up but did find the line quite well on Boxing Day behind Princefamous. This is about his right grade and he can be competitive but I reckon one or two of these will have his measure.
How to play it: Reach For Heaven WIN ($3.80 TAB Fixed Odds).
Check out Reach For Heaven’s impressive trial win at Newcastle – January 5
|Race 5 - 3:15PM TAB REWARDS HANDICAP (1200 METRES)|
It’s important that Blaike McDougall gets it right in the run on 1. Machinegun Jubs with the 60kg, not so much because of the weight itself but what the mare concedes to some of her major threats. She’s up 1.5kg on her last start third to Anatola, where she found herself well back and held up at a vital stage before running on strongly, and her eight point gap in the benchmarks tells you she’s clearly the best performed horse. I see her settling close to the speed and pouncing late and the scratchings have helped her cause.
Dangers: 8. Kawaikini ran sixth in the Anatola race then flew late, as she can do, to place behind Sugar Bella in a similar event two weeks ago. That was her first top three finish at Randwick and there are no Sugar Bellas here so she has her chance. Read trainer Jason Coyle's opinion here. 11. Reward For Fashion tackled the same race and finished runner-up so she can’t be forgotten. She’ll probably lead and with the 51kg, if left alone, she could take some catching. She was a $31 chance last time so that’s a small worry, just whether she can back it up but all the conditions are there to suit. 6. Nonpariel was a beaten favourite first-up and I could't find any real excuse for it. She's yet to win second-up but has placed in all three attempts and with the small field after scratchings she can improve.
How to play it: Machinegun Jubs WIN ($3.50 TAB Fixed Odds).
Machinegun Jubs runs on into third at Randwick on December 16
|Race 6 - 3:55PM MAROUBRA MILE (1600 METRES)|
This is going to be one interesting race. The horses drawn one, two and three are all noted leaders and have performed to their best when leading. So how it plays out in the first 400m will shape the outcome and I can see there being at least a genuine tempo. 3. Morton’s Fork is ready to win a race and would love that scenario to play out. Both his runs since being gelded have been excellent and it was probably just Warwick Farm’s shorter run home that cost him last time when he just failed to catch Nancy. It’s now 426 days since his last win, which was at a mile in the Sandown Guineas, and everything points to him being very hard to beat here.
Punters Intel: Morton's Fork was the only horse to break 34 (33.90) for the last 600m in his race last start at Warwick Farm.
Dangers: 6. Dreamforce was handed the race over this course two weeks ago with an easy lead and no pressure and he duly put a big margin on his rivals. That scenario won’t occur here, though if he happens to be gifted the lead he will take running down. Blaike McDougall is adamant he can be ridden with a sit, you can read his thoughts here, so he may not be a one trick pony. He has the head up at present and is hard to knock. 1. Supply And Demand took up a spot outside the lead at Warwick Farm fresh from a month’s break and a trip to Perth and back and boxed on gamely to run third. The mile is a much better option for him but he hasn’t won with more than 58.5kg in his career and his best wins have been when leading. Can’t leave him out but it will take a big run to win. Jockey Josh Parr's comments can be found here. 5. Liapari shouldn’t be underestimated despite being beaten six lengths by Dreamforce second-up. There will be more pressure here and that will suit him so expect him to finish a lot closer, and he’s capable of winning too.
How to play it: Morton’s Fork WIN ($4.20 TAB Fixed Odds).
Morton’s Fork hits the line hard to run second at Warwick Farm, with Supply And Demand third – December 23
|Race 7 - 4:35PM #THERACES HANDICAP (1400 METRES)|
Another very interesting tactical race here and I very much hope Glyn Schofield takes advantage of barrier two with 5. Eusebio and puts him around midfield or a bit better up to the 1400m. He may have finished sixth of eight when resuming at the Farm but beaten 1.4 lengths and he was hard to miss as he flew late. His work through and past the line was excellent. He simply found the 1200m too short fresh from eight months off and the big track and 1400m is right up his alley. He’s always looked above average and if he’s within striking range he can finish over the top.
Punters Intel: Eusebio dashed his last 200m in a race fastest 11.29 first-up at Warwick Farm.
Dangers: 8. Samadoubt is on the back up after leading and being run down into third over the same course last Saturday. He appeared to have a nice enough run in front and had his chance, perhaps the 4.5kg drop will be a significant factor. If Rachel King is allowed to dictate completely he will take running down. 9. Sizzling Bullet is a big watch for me first-up as a gelding off a pretty handy trial at Rosehill on Monday. He may well find it a touch short, especially if there’s no speed on, but I’d be surprised if he’s not attacking the line with gusto late. Note he has an unbeaten second-up record. 2. New Universe was never a chance in the Dreamforce race last start and he didn’t attack the line line a miler either. Back to 1400m is much more suitable but he may have the same pace problem here. I wonder whether he’s found his level and I think he’s an each-way chance.
How to play it: Eusebio WIN ($3.60 TAB Fixed Odds), Quinella with Samadoubt.
Watch Eusebio hit the line hard late first-up at Warwick Farm - December 23
|Race 8 - 5:20PM ATC OWNERS BENEFIT CARD HANDICAP (1400 METRES)|
5. Sugar Bella will be most people’s good thing of the day and I see no reason to disagree, though rushing into anything that’s deep into the red is always risky. Another race where there looks to be only one leader so Aaron Bullock (read his comments here) may need to place her a bit closer to the speed than we’ve seen in her two impressive wins this time in. Up to 1400m that looks possible as when out to this distance range last prep she was settling fifth and sixth in 14 horse fields. She has the turn of foot of a horse that can graduate to stakes level and she’s entitled to beat these.
Dangers: 6. Gitan appears likely to cross to the lead without too much trouble and will possibly look the winner at the 400m. That was the case last time out over the same course when he was run down by Bye See and, with due respect, he’ll need a much bigger break if he’s to hold Sugar Bella out. Logical quinella horse. 1. Invincible George looked quite good at Hawkesbury back in November and he did make ground at Wyong into third in a race dominated on the speed. He’s racing very well and while I can’t see him giving the favourite 2.5kg and a beating he’s capable of being in the money again. 11. Aquatic is a get back and run on type who did just that, without threatening again, in the same race as Gitan. Won't get as far back this time in the smaller field and has threatened to do something for a while.
How to play it: Sugar Bella WIN ($1.70 TAB Fixed Odds); Exacta with Gitan.
Sugar Bella romps away second-up at Randwick on December 30
|Race 9 - 5:55PM TAB.COM.AU HANDICAP (1800 METRES)|
The most open race of the day and I see no reason to steer away from 6. Emperor’s Way who I was quite keen on at Canterbury on Wednesday prior to his scratching, obviously in preference for this event. He was a shade stiff not to win at Canterbury third-up as he was held up for runs at a vital stage and when the winner was winding up he was trying to push his way into the clear. He may have hit the front there but loss of momentum cost him. Has gate one and stays down in the weights so I can see him trailing the speed set by Coys and getting his chance in the straight.
Dangers: 6. Vaucluse Bay pushed forward for the first time this preparation and he stayed on to run second behind stablemate Hogmanay, who led, over this course two weeks ago. Expect he will be going forward again from the wide gate and I’d expect him to be in the finish. 7. Coys the type of horse there needs to be a bit more of – a bold front-runner who dares them to chase him down. He’ll lead these and run along and if he gets it cheaply and can be rated right he will take plenty of catching in the straight. Meets Emperor’s Way 1kg better for their clash at Canterbury. 1. Gamblestown ran his best race for a little while last Saturday over the mile where he’d have won in another bound. First try at the extra trip for a while and he’s yet to win in 11 starts at Randwick (that almost changed last start) but on what we saw a week ago he has to be considered.
How to play it: Emperor’s Way E/W ($4.20 TAB Fixed Odds).
Emperor’s Way is narrowly beaten at Canterbury on December 20