By Neil Evans
Track likely Soft 6 with rain forecast and rail True
|Race 1 MAIDEN PLATE (1000m):|
We open with the maiden sprinters on a day when rain is forecast, but this is one of the best all condition tracks in the country so the pattern should still be fairly even with the rail true. Local four-year-old 2. Nicci Knee Knack is the one to beat first-up for six months from a good draw. Didn't miss a place in three strong runs all on rain-affected ground, and went through the line nicely in a recent trial.
Dangers: Watch for a handy run from provincial mare and ex-Victorian 4. Koko Connection who hasn't started for nearly 14 months but was highly thought of as a youngster.
How to play it: Nicci Knee Knack to win. Odds and Evens: Evens
|Race 2 MAIDEN PLATE (1600m):|
Out to the mile which augurs well for progressive filly 13. Leading Lady searching for this trip third-up. Made up good ground here three weeks back carrying 1.5kg more, has since trialled, and jockey switch is significant with the "Wonder Woman" booked.
Dangers: Honest mare 7. Decadent Tale hasn't missed a place in four runs to start her career, but very costly considering she's been clear favorite the last three times. Has tactical speed to find a forward position, but so far lacked that sprint to finish the race off. Fast-finishing mare 8. Just Like Lisa is bursting to break through, but testing punters' patience at the same time. Has powered home in her last couple, and suited getting up to this distance. Gap to the rest headed by provincial five-year-old 5. Gold Invest who has been close-up in his last two, and draws to find a cosy spot just off the speed.
How to play it: Leading Lady to win. Odds and Evens: Odds
|Race 3 MAIDEN HCP (1300m):|
Written Tycoon three-year-old 18. Hauraki Gulf has drawn ideally, and comes off a good second-up run behind a smart sprinter. Was scratched from the opening race to run here.
Dangers: Provincial filly 6. Olivia Ann will take some holding out, especially if the top selection is out, after working home nicely to miss by a neck at only second start. Keep safe improving colt 13. Yorikiri whose two runs last month were a little better than they looked, and much less depth here; while 7. Clogs will be running home if he finds cover from the wide gate.
How to play it: Hauraki Gulf to win and quinella 6 and 18. Odds and Evens: Evens
|Race 4 CLASS 2 HCP (1000m):|
Provincial three-year-old 4. Trinity Missile has been freshened up via a smart trial since failing badly here 18 days ago when hanging off the track. Has plenty of ability and primed to bounce straight back.
Dangers: Talented and lightly raced mare 2. Winside draws a lovely gate for her first run since autumn. Won her first two races either side of a lengthy spell, and trainer has been patient and deliberate targeting the return assignment. Bred to handle the wet. Included in exotics 5. Jazzles who draws well with some weight relief; and progressive three-year-old 6. Oblivion who has been in and around the money all prep, and blinkers go on.
How to play it: Trinity Missile to win. Odds and Evens: Evens
|Race 5 CLASS 2 HCP (1600m):|
Provincial five-year-old 2. Underboss has been disappointing in his last couple since surging home to win a Class 1, but draws the inside gate here, with regular rider back on in a monumental boost.
Dangers: Provincial four-year-old 5. Full Coverage is going great guns this prep winning two of three, digging in hard here 18 days to claim a Class 1. Gets through rain-affected ground, and is more than ready for this next step. Stablemate mare 6. Unwavering Faith can peak third-up, although likely to be forced well back from the wide barrier. Tough provincial four-year-old 3. Flying Scotsman has never raced better, driving home from just off the speed to win his last two, although handicapper hasn't missed him back up to 59kg in the same country class.
How to play it: Underboss to win and trifecta 2,5/2,3,5,6/2,3,5,6. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 6 CLASS 3 HCP (1400m):|
Not a big field, but classy for this grade. Progressive mare 7. Par Avion is on the rise, and shooting for three wins from her last four. Swept home to trounce Underboss, who contests the race prior, in a Class 2 here, and thrives on soft tracks. Will settle back from the inside draw, and be very strong in the run home.
Dangers: Provincial five-year-old 1. Camp Rifle has ability and can produce big final splits, but hasn't won for a long time, and seemingly finds ways to get rolled. That said, he comes back from a couple of strong efforts in metro grade over the border, and draws to get an ideal trail. Honest five-year-old 4. Lord Avatar rarely runs a bad one and is a reliable weight carrier. Swept home from the back in dominant fashion at Grafton, but far more depth here. Tough six-year-old 2. Nowyunomi is a risk coming back from the mile under this weight, but the more rain the better.
How to play it: Par Avion to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 7 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1250m):|
Open battle to finish, with plenty of chances. Promising home track mare 14. Nevada Smoke resumed with a dominant all-the-way maiden win at Port, and can win again carrying 2kg less.
Dangers: Hard-fit mare 13. Yulong Monoceros comes off a fast-finishing BM 58 win; while both 6. Austeja from a soft draw; and 5. Apache Red resuming; go in exotics.
How to play it: Nevada Smoke each way. Odds and Evens: Split
R5 2. UNDERBOSS
R6 7. PAR AVION
R4 4. TRINITY MISSILE