By Neil Evans
Track Soft 7 with plenty of lead-up rain and rail out 4m
|Race 1 MAIDEN HCP (1600m):|
We open up on a track that will be well into soft range, possibly heavy, with a competitive maiden over a mile, and local filly 4. Gold Lunar can strike well into her prep. Missed by a whisker at Tamworth in a handy maiden before very good at Dubbo finding the line strongly off a wide gate. Not yet proven on rain-affected ground, but bred to handle it. Scratched from Coonamble on Sunday to run here.
Dangers: Provincial five-year-old 2. Costa Zou is attempting to break through at his 22nd start, and has been freshened up via a forward trial since flopping as a well backed favourite at Quirindi when the track was too firm.
How to play it: Gold Lunar to win. Odds and Evens: Evens
Gold Lunar runs third at Dubbo on March 5
|Race 2 MAIDEN HCP (1100m):|
Big field and very tricky assignment over the sprint course. Home track three-year-old 2. Texan Windstorm hasn't been far away in three runs to start his career, and is the best value in the race. Prior to debuting, was impressive winning a heavy track open class trial.
Dangers: Local three-year-old filly 11. Summer Glow got well back on debut at Muswellbrook before powering home late as a hot favourite. Will likely drift a fair way back again from a wide draw, but watch for her thundering home carrying half kilo less. Must include improving three-year-old 1. Poseidon Ruler who is the likely leader, and capable of carrying this weight at third start in ground he enjoys. Big watch on Denman colt 5. Magnitudo who debuts for a strong metro yard off two progressive trials; while including in exotics stablemate 8. Octagon second-up.
How to play it: Texan Windstorm each way and first four 2,11/1,2,5,11/1,2,5,8,11/1,2,5,8,11. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 3 MAIDEN PLATE (1300m):|
Taken on a new perspective here with some fancies coming out, and sets up well now for three-year-old provincial filly 9. Bright Eyed Girl at her third start with blinkers back on. Worked home okay in a deeper maiden at Gosford, and will relish getting back on to the bigger track carrying 1kg less.
Dangers: Big watch on Newcastle filly 14. Supreme Vision on debut for the leading provincial stable; while four-year-old mare 5. Anabrook is bred to handle the ground, and can figure second-up.
How to play it: Bright Eyed Girl to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 4 CLASS 1 HCP (900m):|
Back to the short course, and while it's hard to believe local mare 1. Tango Stepz has still only one win, and that was well over a year ago, she can strike again here. Hit the line hard in her last two, including a stronger Highway, and she's drawn to get good cover and be saved up for the late charge. By emerging wet track sire Sidestep.
Dangers: Big watch on talented Tamworth three-year-old 3. Taketheshot who hasn't raced or officially trialled since a dominant maiden winner here last spring. Improving three-year-old 2. Okudah was taken to the front second-up at Muswellbrook, and fought on well enough. Suited coming back in trip a month between runs, and bred to get through this ground. Another one from Tamworth 4. Bethpage returns off a nine-week break for a new stable.
How to play it: Tango Stepz to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 5 CLASS 2 HCP (1400m):|
Strong race for this grade, and a stack of chances. Improving three-year-old 10. Casino Kid can peak third-up out to this trip after recovering from a slow start to hit the line late at Dubbo.
Dangers: Randwick mare 8. Frankly Savvy returns for a second prep and only third start off a typical controlled trial. Drawn out, but loves it wet bolting in on a very heavy track at Canberra on debut. Progressive local mare 7. Don'tforgetmonica has got to the outside and powered home to win her last two. Not overly well weighted carrying half kilo more in a deeper race, but will relish the long stretch back at home. Liked the first-up run of provincial mare 5. Light Of Uluru in a BM 58. This is tougher and still unproven in the wet, but drops 2.5kg and is drawn to get a handy trail. Improving four-year-old 3. Two Up will roll forward from a middle gate, and should be right at his peak now after four runs back from a spell.
How to play it: Casino Kid each way and trifecta 7,8,10/3,5,7,8,10/3,5,7,8,10. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 6 BENCHMARK 66 HCP (1600m):|
Good stoush over the mile here. Promising home track three-year-old 3. Akasawa can go right on with the job third-up. Swept home to beat a good CL1 field at Mudgee, and even better suited drawn out on a much softer track. Headed for much bigger prizes.
Dangers: Tough local six-year-old 2. Velaro scored a deserved win second-up after being luckless resuming, and form on wet tracks is okay; while consistent mare 14. Mabel Josephine has attacked the line in three runs this prep, and can peak here on the big track over an ideal distance.
How to play it: Akasawa to win. Odds and Evens: Split a special
Akasawa wins at Mudgee on February 28
|Race 7 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1100m):|
Open sprint to finish, and exotic players can have some fun with this. Home track five-year-old 8. Lope De Broker was dominant resuming off a long break at Tamworth, and he's bred to handle these conditions.
Dangers: Keep safe improving four-year-old 9. Married who did his best work late second-up in a stronger Highway, and little more ground is a plus.
How to play it: Loper De Broker to win. Odds and Evens: Split