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Neil Evans' Tips For Grafton (Monday)

By Neil Evans

Track improving to Soft 6 and rail out 6m from 800m to 400m and 4.5m the remainder on a giant 10-race card

Race 1 MAIDEN PLATE (1020m):

The maiden sprinters get us rolling, and it's tough with several on debut. Keen on local filly 10. Love A Diamond first-up off a near six month spell, and dominant trial win. Looks set for a much improved prep, and her sire was good on rain-affected ground.

Dangers: Home track filly 9. Braw Bricht Moon hasn't been publicly seen since a quiet trial early last December, but reportedly working well and has drawn a nice gate on debut. Expecting local six-year-old 3. Moringa's Hiemie to bounce back after failing to run on second-up from the wide gate; while 7. Charice is over the odds third-up.

How to play it: Love A Diamond to win. Odds and Evens: Split


Coffs mare 5. Flying Pretty doesn't have a flash record, but is much improved for the new stable and hit the line third-up in a deeper race at Port. Had previously bolted in a similar-graded affair, and drawn to sit right behind the speed and pounce early in the straight.

Dangers: Improving filly 3. Above The Lot is nearly a month between runs from a tricky draw, but she's back in trip, and comes off a smart Class 1 win here rattling home late. Keep safe 6. Sniperess who will find this a little easier than her last two over the border, and drawn to get a soft run; while honest mare 4. Shelled has only been out of a place once in her last five.

How to play it: Flying Pretty to win. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 3 BENCHMARK 66 HCP (2235m):

Out over the long journey now, and progressive Gold Coast three-year-old 3. Daring Man can win again despite stepping up sharply in distance. Finished hard to win at the Sunshine Coast, and always given the impression he will stay any testing trip.

Dangers: Perennial place-getter 1. Group Think is hard fit and with enough quality to win on this rating, but a real query running out the trip. Capable seven-year-old 2. King Tomlola gets in well at the weights after a 3kg claim; while the others are likely going around for fun.

How to play it: Daring Man to win. Odds and Evens: Odds

Daring Man wins at Sunshine Coast on March 14

Race 4 MAIDEN PLATE (1725m):

Ex-Victorian four-year-old 2. China Grove comes off a six week freshen-up in first run for his new Armidale stable, and is comfortable carrying this weight in a very weak race.

Dangers: Coffs-trained 3. Fergus En Marche is still trying to break through after 15 starts and needs to improve, but well in at the weights after a 3kg claim. Include in exotics 5. King Farouk third-up with blinkers added; while 7. Nature Boy is edging towards his first success, and also gets nice weight relief well into the prep.

How to play it: China Grove to win. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 5 OPEN HCP (1220m):

Competitive sprint, and very keen on six-year-old 3. The Drake third-up. Has attacked the line hard in two deeper races, draws to find a nice trail off the speed, and is reliable in soft ground.

Dangers: Talented six-year-old 1. Patriot has the biggest finish in the race, and won two of his last three here. Creeping up in the weights from the outside draw, though, is a likely steadier. Eagle Farm-based 10-year-old 2. Kievann hops the border off a dominant win in weaker grade. That said, he looks well placed from the draw with a 3kg claim. Improving mare 7. Northern Wilderose is third-up, and back in grade from a Country C'ship Qualifier.

How to play it: The Drake to win and trifecta 1,3/1,2,3,7/1,2,3,7. Odds and Evens: Odds

The Drake runs fourth at Grafton on March 14

Race 6 MAIDEN HCP (1220m):

A moderate but tricky affair. Deep into his prep, tough four-year-old 8. Admiral Ash is ready to break through despite drawing wide. Has been continually finding the line well in better maidens, and looks well treated at the weights against this lot.

Dangers: Gold Coast four-year-old 2. Prince Of Morocco can improve again after working home okay on debut; while stablemate 4. Reachforthestars led and was easily run down in that same race, although three straight placings is strong enough to figure here.

How to play it: Admiral Ash to win. Odds and Evens: Evens a special

Race 7 MAIDEN HCP (1220m):

Plenty of chances in this one headed by Coffs three-year-old 6. Latin Dayz who missed narrowly fourth-up when very well backed. Hard fit now over a suitably longer trip, and has a natural liking for soft ground.

Dangers: The market support was there for 1. Dha Dha Choc on debut when finding the line okay here under the same weight. Winkers have been added, although the task made tougher drawing off the track. Local mare 7. Stars Are Trumps has worked home nicely into a place two runs back from a break, but will also need to find cover from a wide barrier. Improving filly 3. Diana Rocks resumes off a tidy closing run on debut last spring, and has been given an easy time at the trials.

How to play it: Latin Dayz each way and trifecta 1,6,7/1,3,6,7/1,3,6,7. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 8 CLASS 1 HCP (1120m):

Good speed and depth on offer here. Consistent Coffs filly 3. Time To Target has only missed a place once in six starts, and looks very well placed here from the inside draw. Should get a similar run to last start when sweeping home from just behind the speed in a dominant maiden win, and relishes soft ground.

Dangers: Progressive filly and smart first-up maiden winner 5. Hallowed Dreams is a clear threat on this rating carrying half kilo less. Lightly raced five-year-old 1. Moringa's Amordoro resumes for a second prep off a lengthy break and quiet trial. Has plenty of natural speed, and was a dominant winner on debut here from the front. Local mare 2. To The Barricades resumes with no official trials, but expected to come hand quickly; while 9. Adelita Rose is best of the rest from a handy draw and on the limit weight.

How to play it: Time To Target to win and box exacta 1,3,5. Odds and Evens: Odds

Race 9 CLASS 1 HCP (1120m):

Same recipe here, although a little less early pressure. Like lightly-raced Exosphere filly 7. The Lioness who can strike second-up. Hit the line late as a short-priced favourite resuming, and can improve enough carrying the same weight.

Dangers: After leading all the way on debut, three-year-old 2. Twelve Apostles flopped badly third-up in much stronger metro grade over the border, but suspect from a handy draw and an obvious drop in quality, he can bounce back. Another emerging one from Qld, 1. Perfect Quality resumes off two progressive trials, but has to lump a big weight from a wide gate. Improving mare 8. Swatch is well placed from the draw second-up; while include in exotics 6. Sailing who finished well enough resuming in that same race as the top selection.

How to play it: The Lioness to win and trifecta 1,2,7,8/1,2,6,7,8/1,2,6,7,8. Odds and Evens: Split


Tough and open one to finish. A few scratchings brings improving four-year-old 6. Helmet Head into a more manageable barrier, and he can improve sharply second-up over more ground.

Dangers: As long as they're running on, 1. Kijito can also hit the line second-up. Up sharply in weight and will be forced back from a wide draw, but capable of surging late in this ground. Local five-year-old 2. Great Marlow will appreciate dropping back to this level after being outclassed a mile in a metro Class 2; while 10. Bondurant resumes as a gelding off two steady trials.

How to play it: Helmet Head to win. Odds and Evens: Split

All the fields, form and replays for Monday's Grafton meeting

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