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Neil Evans' Tips For Muswellbrook (Friday, Country Championships Wild Card)

By Neil Evans

Track around Soft 7/Heavy 8 and Rail True for Gold Cup & Country C'ships Wild Card Showcase meeting

Race 1 MAIDEN HCP (1280m):

We start a deep and very open card with the maidens, and typically there are plenty of hopes. Promising Scone filly 4. Schiller's Myst should have won on debut rattling home at Dubbo, and looks well placed carrying the same weight here.

Dangers: Provincial four-year-old 7. Pure Rubick boxed on okay resuming after travelling wide, and unlike many of these has wet track experience. Improving filly 6. Majority was fair to the line after being well backed on debut at Dubbo; while three-year-old 1. Poseidon Ruler finished off okay at Scone with blinkers on for the first time, and first use of the inside on a spacious track a likely plus. Include in wider exotics 10. Therapy third-up.

How to play it: Splendiferous to win and first four 4,7/1,4,6,7,10/1,4,6,7,10/1,4,6,7,10. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 2 BENCHMARK 66 HCP (1750m):

Plenty of value chances in this one too headed by five-year-old 7. Slatey Bay who can peak fourth-up over a longer trip. Has been working to the line as the distances have slowly risen, all his best form is on rain-affected tracks, and last time here surged home to win a similar race on a Soft 7 rating.

Dangers: Doubt the inside draw under a big weight will aid four-year-old mare 1. Eva's Deel who likes to drift back, but she's hit the line nicely from well back in her last two, and a longer journey is a benefit. Tough mare 4. Dream Maiden charged home to win a weaker race at Goulburn before tackling much stronger metro BM 72 grade, and suited dropping in class and trip. Progressive four-year-old 6. Saint Ambrose finds a suitable distance third-up, but likely needs it drier to win; while home track three-year-old 10. Scorched Land draws well with a 2kg claim fifth-up.

How to play it: Slatey Bay each way. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 3 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1280m):

Could well be a showdown here between two progressive stablemates from the Kris Lees yard. Talented filly 6. Unearthed is ready to win at her fourth run back in ground she loves. Missed by a whisker here two runs ago before charging home late at Port. Won her maiden at this track in explosive fashion on a heavy rating last winter.

Dangers: Stablemate filly 9. Pelgrave can go on with it after a dominant maiden win second-up in heavy ground. Down 2.5kg for this tougher test, and will relish the big track. Another Lees runner 2. Spiritual Power can play a role fourth-up after ploughing through the mud to win a similar-graded race at Port. Resuming three-year-old 7. Euroworld has had a very quiet trial, but another one bred to thrive in the conditions.

How to play it: Unearthed each way and trifecta 6,9/2,6,7,9/2,6,7,9. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 4 WAYNE HARRIS HCP (1280m):

Smaller but still tricky field. Smart local five-year-old 1. Two Big Fari is the one to beat resuming off two progressive trials. Has a strong fresh record, and never finished further back than second from four starts in soft going. Crucially big weight has been off-set with a 2kg allowance.

Dangers: Rival Scone-trained four-year-old 5. Pure Fuego is building an impressive record, only out of a place once in seven starts. After consecutive wins has attacked the line in his last two, especially in the Country C'ship qualifier at Tamworth when forced a long way back from the wide draw.

How to play it: Two Big Fari to win and quinella 1 and 5. Odds and Evens: Odds a special


Two Big Fari wins a trial at Muswellbrook on March 3

Race 5 CLASS 2 HCP (1000m):

Suspect they'll be spread right across the home straight over the sprint trip. Smart Scone filly 9. Water Dove has never started on a heavy surface, but done more than enough on soft ratings to suggest she'll plough through this. Comes back from two close-up efforts in stronger Highway grade, and like her being drawn to get to the outside.

Dangers: Progressive filly 7. Celestial Doll has been kept nice and fresh via two improving trials for her first her first run in nearly six months, and already is a dominant heavy track winner. Provincial four-year-old 3. Ready To Roam is much more advantaged on rain-affected ground second-up and back in trip with blinkers off after wilting when leading a handy BM 64 field at Gosford. Talented three-year-old 4. Delexo has been freshened-up, and bred to handle these conditions.

How to play it: Water Dove to win and quinella 7 and 9. Odds and Evens: Odds


Water Dove runs second at Randwick on February 27

Race 6 SKELLATAR SPRINT (1000m):

Feature dash of the day. Scone four-year-old 13. Air Marshal is second-up and over the odds. Will drift a long way back, but has been sharpened up with a recent trial, and this is the lightest weight he's carried in a long time.

Dangers: Tough provincial mare 7. Invincible Kiss has been in and around the money in metro grade for much of this prep. Drawn out, but wet track credentials are sound and also sneaking down in the weights. Include 4. Another Sin and 8. Ragged Rascal in wider exotics.

How to play it: Air Marshal to win. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 7 NEWHAVEN PARK COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS WILD CARD (1280m):

Final fling in a wide Class 5 race for those hunting a Randwick start on Apr 10. Moruya four-year-old 15. Rothenburg can pounce fourth-up with the blinkers back on if he gets a run. Has been given nearly six weeks since surging home from well back in a Country Qualifier behind high class Art Cadeau, and at his best on rain affected ground.

Dangers: Expect four-year-old 4. Eiger to be running home late at big odds fourth-up getting back on a bigger track. Keep safe South Coast four-year-old 1. Blue Missile who has good tactical speed and won his last three, although has to carry 59kg from a wide barrier. Include talented wet track four-year-old 10. Amy's Shadow who can peak third-up despite being drawn right off the track; while four-year-old 3. Depth That Varies will drift well back from the draw but watch for him charging late.

How to play it: Rothenburg to win and trifecta 4,15/1,3,4,10,15/1,3,4,10,15/1,3,4,10,15. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 8 MUSWELLBROOK GOLD CUP (1500m):

Deep and open field for the highlight. Plenty of chances, and going very wide in the market with Canberra seven-year-old and renowned mudlark 10. Mercurial Lad third-up. Swept home for a dominant Bega Cup win before pulling up lame after tackling a strong metro BM 78. Can roll forward off the fence, and will be hard to stop dropping sharply to the minimum weight.

Dangers: Plenty of them headed by lightly raced six-year-old 2. Starspangled Rodeo who has built an impressive 33 per cent win and place strike rate from only 15 starts. Ran them ragged two runs back in a metro BM 78 before close-up in even stronger city grade. Untested in heavy, but never missed a place in soft ground. Smart five-year-old mare 5. Itz Lily resumes off two trials. Was flying at the end of last prep winning a Provincial Series Heat before cleaning the Final in dominant fashion from well off the speed. Only query is the inside going late in the day. Must include tough front-runner 7. Petronius who drops sharply in weight after a fighting BM 78 metro win second-up; while five-year-old 8. Mr Dependable resumes off a near nine month spell, but comes to hand quickly and has won both lead-up trials. Was scratched from the Kensington meeting on Thursday to run here.

How to play it: Mercurial Lad each way and trifecta: 2,5,7,10/2,5,7,8,10/2,5,7,8,10. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 9 CLASS 3 HCP (1450m):

It doesn't get any easier to finish in what will be a wide market. Expecting sharp improvement third-up from Scone three-year-old 4. Highest Standard whose unplaced effort at Dubbo was much better than it looks on paper. Had previously charged home to beat a handy CL2 field, and while he hasn't seen conditions like this, is bred to lap it up with blinkers applied.

Dangers: Impressive three-year-old 9. Philipsburg is on the seven day back-up after being forced to race forward and cover ground in the Albury Guineas. Previously had won two straight before finishing close-up in a Highway. Can settle a little further back with cover, and be strong late. Tough Scone four-year-old 3. The Snooperstar gets much-needed weight relief third-up out in distance. Was closing hard in a BM 58 second-up at Dubbo, although the inside ground may be a hurdle late in the day. Lightly raced 2. Shamusu Sho; and tough wet tracker 5. Costas are the best of the rest.

How to play it: Highest Standard each way. Odds and Evens: Split

All the fields, form and replays for Friday's Muswellbrook meeting

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