By Ray Hickson
Tips and race by race preview by Ray Hickson for Saturday’s Country Championships meeting at Albury. Selections based on a good track.
|Race 1 – 1:15PM HIB INSURANCE HANDICAP (1600 METRES)|
6. Shinseki looked to do it pretty softly second-up in a similar race at Wagga last week and backing up is a good sign. Up 3.5kg but has barrier one and a senior jockey taking over so he’d only have to hold his form to be right in the finish again.
Dangers: 4. Supplyzing has mixed his form since a short break in November and coming back to his home track is a plus for him. Closed off well in a Class 3 two starts back then up on the speed when fading last time. Worth another chance. 5. Richwaite Lady might go back from the outside gate and come with one run, she showed determination to score over this course a couple of weeks ago and gets weight relief for the class rise. Include. 9. Casino Star will probably go forward from wide out and that will give her every chance. She handled the mile nicely last time when runner-up at Benalla and can give a sight.
How to play it: Shinseki WIN ($3.20 TAB Fixed Odds).
Shinseki is too strong at Wagga on February 14
|Race 2 - 1:50PM COMMERCIAL CLUB ALBURY HANDICAP (1175 METRES)|
4. Vin Du Jour has drawn out but she has plenty of speed to cross them and if that’s how it plays out she’ll be hard to beat. Huge run before a break at Wodonga when narrowly beaten, won a trial impressively at Wagga and has blinkers on. Huge chance.
Dangers: 5. Prose ‘N’ Cons would be suited by any speed battles up front and also appears in blinkers after a solid third in a similar race two weeks ago. He had every chance there but the shades might help. 11. Mississippi Sting seems to have come back a bit better horse with three sound efforts. Led his past couple and boxed on, particularly last start at Wagga. Blinkers back on him and he’s in the mix. 6. Who’s Shout is yet another showing up in blinkers first time and if you overlook his second-up failure and go on his sound fresh effort then he’s a winning chance too.
How to play it: Vin Du Jour WIN ($1.80 TAB Fixed Odds).
Vin Du Jour wins a Wagga barrier trial on February 14
|Race 3 – 2.25PM BULLER WINE HANDICAP (1175 METRES)|
3. Mount Horeb sets up well in a race with a bit of speed on paper. Completely ignore his failure at Caulfield, he sat behind them and blew his rivals away in a similar race to this one at Albury prior to that and with the claim carries the same weight. Freshened up and just needs a good steer and he can bounce back.
Dangers: 2. Manzana is at his best when let run as was evident in his easy Canberra win before he went to Sapphire Coast and got into a battle for the lead and weakened. If he finds the front he’ll be hard to run down. 4. Delivered might well have gone on top but for his very ordinary second-up record. Yet to a miss a place fresh and he was excellent steaming home at Corowa over 1000m, but yet to place second-up. That’s the only query. 10. Pacific Tycoon had a bit of support at odds and rounded them up to score in a BM58 here two weeks ago. Drawn nicely and down 2kg for the class rise. Could measure up.
How to play it: Mount Horeb WIN ($3.50 TAB Fixed Odds).
Mount Horeb wins easily at Albury on December 15
|Race 4 – 3.00PM VILLAGE GREEN ON CUP DAY PLATE (1000 METRES)|
1. A Thousand Degrees didn’t disgrace when having his first run for the new stable at Sapphire Coast, he was probably outsped over the 900m but runs second in another bound or two. Better for that, drawn well and expect he’ll be in the finish somewhere.
Dangers: 5. Galaxy Force is a big watch on debut on his home track. First trial was ordinary, under the whip and battled, but looked very good winning his second at Tatura. Check betting but no surprise to see him go close. 2. Eagle Point is a 27 start maiden but he was sound first-up at Corowa then no luck at all here two weeks ago over 900m. Inside alley this time around so he’ll have every chance. Each-way claims. 8. Emily’s Hope didn’t have the best of runs either in the same race. She was kept safe in betting there fresh so might be worth another look with a run under her belt.
How to play it: A Thousand Degrees WIN ($2.60 TAB Fixed Odds).
A Thousand Degrees runs third at Sapphire Coast on February 2
|Race 5 – 3.35PM TRACKSIDE 400 CLUB ON CUP DAY PLATE (2000 METRES)|
4. Tycoon Dreaming couldn’t have won any easier when breaking his maiden over a mile here two weeks ago and if he turns up in the same touch they’ll be hard pressed to beat him again. Only up marginally in grade (C1 & Maiden) and doesn’t look like 2000m will worry him. The one to beat.
Dangers: 10. Lolita Gold was narrowly beaten in a BM58 on the same day and that race was run in slower time than Tycoon Dreaming. Regardless, she’s on the up and appears the main danger. 5. Frank The Yank had been battling away a bit before he raced clear to break through at Wodonga over 1590m. Should handle the extra ground okay and probably goes forward from the wide gate. Must include. 7. Ironbark is a 19 start maiden but his two runs back have been handy. Can’t imagine him turning the tables on Tycoon Dreaming after running third behind him at Albury but another placing is within his reach.
How to play it: Tycoon Dreaming WIN ($2.80 TAB Fixed Odds).
Tycoon Dreaming wins very easily at Albury on February 8
|Race 6 - 4:15PM LEXUS OF WODONGA HANDICAP (1175 METRES)|
4. Romeo Vella was beaten by a smart one in Coup De Main at Sapphire Coast last start, he didn’t really settle either and went with the winner down to the 100m. Not sure where he gets to from the barrier but there’s not a lot of pace on paper, so he should be prominent. Good chance.
Dangers: 2. Find My Tail has been racing well in similar company and while beaten favourite last start the 1000m was probably a touch sharp. Expect him to be thereabouts again. 15. Zarvalante was a real eye-catcher first-up at Wagga, he drew wide and raced back, was held up a bit and charged last to be beaten less than two lengths. Eligible for easier but well worth including in the multiples. 1. Inglesias had support and left it very late at Wagga but a rails hugging and brave ride in the last 100m saw him home. Might be looking for further but hard to leave out.
How to play it: Romeo Vella E/W ($4.20 TAB Fixed Odds).
Romeo Vella’s game third at Sapphire Coast on February 3
|Race 7 - 4:55PM POGSON CRONIN SOLICITORS HANDICAP (1400 METRES)|
13. Fusca is coming off a maiden win but it was an impressive one at the Sapphire Coast and she looks a horse on the way up. Sits handy and she’ll no doubt be fitter for the run after a two month break. Can’t see any issues with the 1400m and I did note the jockey’s choice of ride.
Dangers: 1. Hail The Hero chased home Waiting For A Mate two starts back then just battled last time at Wagga over this trip. Back in class here which is a big plus so expect him to run well. 8. Cathanda is showing some promise, she was a bit all over the place at Wagga last time and warmed up late for a close third. Will need luck from the barrier but probably goes back and look for her to be running on. 2. The Raven ventured to Orange last start and led them up before holding on for a close third behind El Mo and Andy’s A Star who are both handy country gallopers. He might look to lead these and if he doesn’t have to work too hard could pinch it.
How to play it: Fusca E/W ($4.60 TAB Fixed Odds).
Fusca winning at Sapphire Coast on February 3
|Race 8 - 5:35PM SDRA COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS QUALIFIER (1400 METRES)|
Expecting the Qualifier to be won by something coming from off the speed. 13. Bennelong Dancer is going a lot better now than last year when she ran a close second in this race. Brilliant first-up win then even in a Highway in town before a closing third over 1200m in December. Trial win had purpose and she’s 4.5kg better off for her last start clash. Hard to hold out. Read more about her from jockey Blaike McDougall here.
Dangers: 2. Bulala was one of the favourites for this race last year and he also attacks it fresh. Not seen since an excellent second at Gundagai over 1000m behind a speedy mare and his latest trial suggested he’s ready. Unbeaten first-up so commands respect. 17. Landmine is very consistent and is hard to line up coming through different races but he probably should have won first-up at Albury, he almost fell at the start but motored into a close third with 60.5kg. In-form apprentice rides and he’s a knockout chance at big odds. 6. Takookacod resumed in a Group 2 race and was only beaten 4.4 lengths. She was competitive in open company before a spell and she’ll be hitting the line strongly here. Can’t tip them all but consider 1. Forever Newyork, though as mentioned as a task at the weights, and 8. Waiting For A Mate.
How to play it: Bennelong Dancer WIN ($4.00 TAB Fixed Odds).
Bennelong Dancer’s Albury trial win on February 8
Comments by the trainer of every runner in the Country Championships Qualifier can be found here.