By Neil Evans
Track Soft 5 and rail True:
|Race 1 MAIDEN PLATE (1100m):
A majority of first starters in the opener, but one with comparatively plenty of race experience 5. Tokyo Run returns for his second full prep behind a 14 week spell. Was progressive through country and provincial grades last campaign before tackling the Melbourne spring carnival where he was even thrown in the deep end in the Group 1 Victoria Derby when finishing a long way down the track. Looked good in a recent trial here when switching out of the pack late and hitting the line hard. Drawn to sit just off the speed with cover, and will be very strong late right back in this company.
Dangers: Local rival and debutant three-year-old 3. Green Pineapple by Bon Aurum showed tactically speed to zip through underneath runners dashing away to win that trial, and sports winkers. Big gap to the rest headed by debutant Brave Smash filly 7. Ishamashi who has trialled quietly; and 2. Nightwalker second-up.
How to play it: Tokyo Run to win
|Race 2 MAIDEN HCP (1200m):
All aboard promising debutant metro filly 6. Bit Of Banter by Written Tycoon who draws to strike from a nice off speed draw with cover for the Bjorn baker yard. Looked way above average when sweeping home from midfield to win a second trial, with plenty in the tank, and fitted to run this trip out with ease.
Dangers: Rubick debutant 3. Draco's Fire from the Annabel Neasham stable has been gelded, and gets his chance after being strong through the line in a recent provincial trial. Expect second-up improvement from 4. O' Explosive with blinkers added after closing off fairly in a moderate country maiden three weeks back, and is a stablemate of the top selection.
How to play it: Bit Of Banter to win
|Race 3 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (2000m)
Tough Dubbo mare 2. Weave That Web is primed to collect an overdue and deserved win, stepping up in distance on a quick turnaround. Hasn't missed a place in four runs since powering home to win a weak race before Xmas. Was only a bit over a length from the winner when tackling better company only seven days ago, and back to this level over 400m further shapes as the right recipe.
Dangers: Liked the way 1. Encompass did his best work late when having his first run for a new Canberra stable off an eight week break. Rises in distance, with blinkers coming off. Included in exotics 5. Gilded Crown who steps up in trip after finishing hard over the mile third-up; and last start Armidale Class 1 winner 6. Crux Rebellion who gets in well at the weights after the jockey's claim.
How to play it: Weave That Web to win
|Race 4 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1100m):
A little drop back in trip deep into the prep can pay dividends for home track mare 3. Ida's Rules on a 10 day back-up. Kept fighting in the run home to only miss by a half head last time after doing plenty of work from the barrier, and she looks well treated against this lot after the claim, especially with the stablemate coming out.
Dangers: Keep safe metro filly 4. Desperately who gets the blinkers added third-up; while expecting improvement from 2. Chief White Sock who has been very ordinary this prep, but the blinkers and a senior rider are both back on. Improving 7. Dundas is the best of the rest third-up.
How to play it: Ida's Rules to win
|Race 5 CLASS 4 HCP (1200m):
Now for a feature Country C'ship Preview, and it shapes well for talented mare 6. Life's A Party who has hit the line impressively in two Class 3 Highway runs since a smart Class 2 win here just before Xmas. Has a superior closing 400m burst, although wouldn't want to drift too far back from the inside draw. Aided by the fact Scopics is likely to come out after running in the Highway at Randwick on Saturday.
Dangers: Improving mare 4. Super Sprocket can peak second-up over more ground; while watch the betting around locally-trained 1. Possibly So who has been given a five week freshen-up and quiet trial since charging home to win a Class 3 Highway at Randwick. Gap to the rest.
How to play it: Life's A Party to win
|Race 6 CLASS 1 HCP (1400m):
Very tricky race. Underrated metro mare 4. Long Memory has had three indifferent runs since a smart first-up win at Hawkesbury when powering home from the second half of the field. Will find this an easier assignment back out to a more suitable distance, and importantly draws to get cover in a weakened race.
Dangers: Emerging local 5. Chico Casino bounced to the front on debut and gave nothing else a chance, but meeting some better ones here and draws much wider. Progressive 2. Luai led all the way to thrash a very weak maiden field here third-up; while improving 6. Oneofthetwelve has more than enough ability to figure second-up. Last start provincial maiden winner at big odds 3. Sweetpea Moochi heads the rest.
How to play it: Long Memory to win
|Race 7 MAIDEN PLATE (1400m):
Loved the way debutant Dundeel three-year-old 6. Out Of Aces from the Neasham stable found the line late over 1200m in the second of two improving metro trials. That was a lovely preparation for this initial trip, and he's drawn to get cover back in the field and be saved up for one surge from the 400m.
Dangers: Keep very safe 7. Saroyan who resumes behind two steady trials. Watch the market around 3. Air Combat who debuts as a gelding off a close-up and on-speed effort in that same trial as the top selection. Included in exotics 4. Graeme's Shout deep into the prep.
How to play it: Out Of Aces to win
R1 5. TOKYO RUN
R4 3. IDA'S RULES
R7 6. OUT OF ACES