By Neil Evans
Track improving to Soft 5 and rail out 4m from 800m to WP and True the remainder
|Race 1 MAIDEN HCP (1300m):|
We start with the maidens on an improving surface, and this looks ripe for Tamworth three-year-old 1. Kanalaide at his second start. Got home hard on debut in a handy maiden after an awkward start and striking trouble early in the straight, and can settle much closer here from the draw.
Dangers: Improving provincial filly 7. Two Gems is hard fit and clearly on the next line after getting home well fourth-up.
How to play it: Kanalaide to win. Odds and Evens: Odds
Kanalaide runs fourth at Armidale on May 25
|Race 2 MAIDEN PLATE (1000m):|
Talented three-year-old 3. Lord Bronn is ready to win fourth-up back at home, and has six placings from nine starts. Over the odds!
Dangers: Progressive filly 9. Minniti has good tactical speed, and been game in the placings all three runs this prep; while provincial two-year-old 12. Pop Magic debuts from a nice draw off two progressive recent trials.
How to play it: Lord Bronn each way and box exacta 3,9,12. Odds and Evens: Odds
|Race 3 BENCHMARK 74 HCP (1000m):|
Small but very competitive sprint field. Loved how provincial five-year-old 3. Gidgee Guy has finished hard in his last two over 900m. Suited over a little more ground here from an ideal trailing draw, especially with a more senior and stronger rider going on.
Dangers: High class local short-courser 2. Remlaps Gem has been disappointing this prep, but gets the pacifiers applied fourth-up. Has only been a touch over two lengths from the winner in consecutive stronger metro races, and is the clear one to beat despite the rise in weight and being under the odds. Expect four-year-old 6. Halcyon House to get home strongly second-up, with handy weight relief after the claim.
How to play it: Gidgee Guy to win and quinella 2 and 3. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 4 CLASS 1 HCP (900m):|
A bigger field over the flying trip, and keen on progressive home track filly 2. Very Sharp second-up and dropping back from a much stronger class. Was terrific first-up after covering ground, and draws better here with blinkers coming off.
Dangers: Rival local filly 6. Baiyka wasn't far away in that same CL3 race, and missed by a whisker second-up last prep. Gap to the rest headed by provincial filly 3. Vibrant who draws well, and much better off dropping back to this distance.
How to play it: Very Sharp to win and quinella 2 and 6. Odds and Evens: Evens
Very Sharp runs second at Scone on June 1
|Race 5 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1700m):|
Wide open race with plenty of chances. Local mare 1. Deepwood Vale is much better placed at home, back in distance and dropping down from a tougher provincial grade. Blinkers are back on, and although she will likely be forced a long way back again from the wide draw, she can round them up.
Dangers: Lightly raced five-year-old 2. Magic Charlee finished well in a good quality Highway after a dominant on-speed country win. Up sharply in weight and trip, but gear changes are significant. Watch for underrated mare 4. Holy Empress getting home late. Draws to get a soft run well back on the inside, and the improving track is a plus. Provincial mare 12. Jazirat was strong winning first-up in heavy ground, but second-up form is not as good and this is significantly tougher.
How to play it: Deepwood Vale each way. Odds and Evens: Evens
|Race 6 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1300m):|
Progressive three-year-old 2. Chaready charged up to win here a fortnight back but coming back a little in trip, couldn't drag in the winner. Trounced a good maiden field the start before, and as long as he can slot in from the tough barrier, is the one to beat in moderate company.
Dangers: Provincial four-year-old 1. Berruti will relish getting back on the bigger track, and the regular rider is back on. Improving three-year-old 4. Sir Bawn rounded them up from last in dominant fashion for the easiest of maiden wins here, and despite a sharp rise in weight, will be finishing hard again. Include local mare 10. Blue Velvet who hit the line impressively from well back first-up; while 11. Switch Play is also second-up off a maiden win.
How to play it: Chaready to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 7 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1300m):|
Same grade and trip augurs well for talented four-year-old 2. Danza In The Dark now that he has struck winning form. Sat closer in the run third-up to beat a handy CL1 field, and has always shown a liking for this course, as long as it keeps drying out.
Dangers: Provincial filly 6. Impulse Control is on the rise and ready to win again third-up. In well at the weights after form rider's claim, and can also settle a bit closer from an ideal draw. Gap to the rest headed by four-year-old 1. We All Agree who is hard fit and draws the inside.
How to play it: Danza In The Dark to win. Odds and Evens: Evens
|Race 8 CLASS 1 HCP (1100m):|
Open and testing sprint to finish. Keen at odds on lightly raced local four-year-old 7. Frontline who resumes for his second prep. Was strong late from a wide draw before spelling, and his debut win in heavy ground here from well off the speed was a beauty.
Dangers: Progressive filly 8. Lady River was a dominant maiden winner from midfield first-up here, and she's also headed for bigger prizes. Capable colt 2. Murungal is well placed fourth-up dropping back from a deeper provincial race when he found the line okay. Pulled up with a poor recovery rate here the start before, although handicapper hasn't missed him with 59.5kg considering his lone win was a two-year-old country maiden a year ago. Taree filly 11. Belrose Express draws to get a soft run, and also steps up from a first-up win.
How to play it: Frontline each way. Odds and Evens: Split
R1 1. KANALAIDE
R4 2. VERY SHARP
R8 7. FRONTLINE