By Ray Hickson
Tips and race by race preview by Ray Hickson for Sunday’s Country Championships meeting at Grafton. The track has improved to a Soft 5, and the rail is in the true position.
|Race 1 – 12:50PM CLARENCE COAST AIR CONDITIONING HANDICAP (1600 METRES)|
3. Wallaman only has to repeat his effort from Port Macquarie three weeks ago to break through for a maiden win here. He drew wide and settled last then took off before the 600m and circled, hitting the lead around the turn before the effort told and the leader kicked back to win. The fourth horse has since won out of the race. Drawn a lot kinder here, soft track is okay and with even luck is very hard to beat.
Danger: 2. Mustaknown is racing consistently though doesn’t quite seem to be able to get that win on the board. Short favourite at Coffs last time, led and was only collared in the last 100m. Will be in this for a long way again and if he has a soft run he could take catching. 14. Trustable is one to include in everything. She’s only had the three starts and she’s hit the line very strongly on each occasion. Showed a soft track won’t be an issue with her closing fourth at Coffs in the same race as Mustaknown and has strong each-way claims. 8. Lady Sunday ran the best race of her career two starts back then a shade disappointing in the same race as Wallaman at Port Macquarie. Return to a soft track could be a plus and she’s probably worth another chance.
How to play it: Wallaman E/W ($6.00 TAB Fixed Odds).
Wallaman’s brave effort in running second at Port Macquarie on February 18
|Race 2 - 1:30PM SASHA BERRY FOUNDATION HANDICAP (1600 METRES)|
I’m sure Matthew Dunn has an opinion of 11. Glamorous Miss because you don’t jump from a maiden to a showcase Class 2 lightly. She was a well supported favourite at her second start at Ballina and was chasing a fair way out but really attacked the line and was pulling clear late. She should eat up the mile and the form out of her maiden win was confirmed with the runner-up winning since. Only small question mark is the soft conditions but otherwise she’s a super chance.
Dangers: 4. Presscott is an ex-Chris Waller gelding having his first start for Tess Wilkes and he comes out of an easy win at Gosford third-up from a spell. He enjoyed a nice run and swept past the leaders. Only had two starts in the wet and one was on debut, the other at Sandown off a two month break so that’s inconclusive. Has to be kept safe. 1. Dizzy Success just lasted to record his second win at start 23 after a run of placings at Scone just over two weeks back. Seems no harder here, drawn well and handles soft ground. Whether he has the will to win is another question but an each-way hope. 2. Spiral has a couple of Doomben placings against his name recently on varying surfaces. Winning rate a worry but drawn well and isn't out of it.
How to play it: Glamorous Miss WIN ($4.00 TAB Fixed Odds).
Glamorous Miss races away to an easy maiden win at Ballina on February 15.
|Race 3 – 2:05PM CAMBUILD CONSTRUCTIONS HANDICAP (1200 METRES)|
You’ve got to overlook the failure at Randwick of 5. Mishani Honcho behind Suncraze, he wouldn’t have won but he was chopped out about 200m from home and his effort to be beaten three lengths or so was sound. Prior to that he was in a blanket finish when fourth to Bratislava, runner-up Lofty’s Menu has won in town since. And he romped away at Coffs three back. Handles it soft he’s in his right grade and he looks very hard to stop for mine.
Dangers: 3. Flaming Aces overcame a wide gate to win pulling up on a soft track at Coffs two weeks ago and given similar conditions again she’s sure to give a good account. Drawn nicely this time and expect she will be up on the pace. 6. Elite Dubleo is your typical honest country sprinter and he defied a betting drift to win here two starts back before an even effort at Armidale. No issue with a soft track, he’d probably prefer it, and he’s an each-way chance at least. 1. Skylimit battled away okay first-up in a strongly run 1100m at Quirindi. He’s definitely good enough to be competitive here though second-up record is fair at best and he’s drawn wide. Needs some breaks in the run and if he gets them he’s in the mix.
How to play it: Mishani Honcho WIN ($3.40 TAB Fixed Odds).
Mishani Honcho running a close fourth at Rosehill on January 27
|Race 4 – 2.47PM YAMBA GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB SEAFIRE RESTAURANT (1200 METRES)|
Big watch for me on 13. La Scopa who hasn’t raced since November where she was a very game second in a 1400m maiden at the Gold Coast. She raced wide early there and made her move before the turn, the effort telling a bit late. She was under a stranglehold in a Gold Coast trial on March 1, running fifth of six but never given any rein at all. Drawn nicely, soft track is fine and she can go close.
Dangers: 2. Yeah The Boys is a 20 start maiden and has a wide gate but if he runs up to his latest effort at the Gold Coast when a closing second over the 1200m he can be in the finish. Was $31 into $9 there and failed by a long neck or so. Obviously needs some luck but well worth including. 12. Chloe Elien ran on at her debut on a heavy track then battled away okay into third at Ipswich also on heavy ground last time around. Slightly better going would help her cause it seems and she’s not to be overlooked. 16. Caro Cavallo got a long way back first-up at Lismore but attacked the line quite well to run into fourth at 1100m. Will go back again from the wide alley and will need a cleaver ride but one to throw into the multiples that can feature.
How to play it: La Scopa WIN ($3.30 TAB Fixed Odds).
La Scopa has an easy trial at the Gold Coast on March 1
|Race 5 - 3:24PM BOWLO SPORTS & LEISURE YAMBA HANDICAP (1200 METRES)|
A couple of last start maiden winners appeal very much in this event. Going with 2. Tristan De Angel who overcame an outside alley to win pulling away on debut at Lismore on February 19 as a $1.70 favourite. No doubt he’ll be better for that and he did win a Gold Coast trial on soft ground earlier in the month. Drawn to get the run of the race and he is the one to beat.
Dangers: 9. Duke Of Frederick is a big price on face value after his first-up win at Grafton where he tracked the leaders then switched to the inside and broke right away. That was his first win in 12 starts but he was consistent last prep and I see no reason why he can’t measure up. Each-way at least. 1. Saxton Rock has to give all his rivals 4kg or more but he is the only horse rated in the 60s in the field so safe to say he’s earned it. Started $4.80 in a Highway back in December and raced below par, freshened up and he trialled well enough against open class horses at the Gold Coast on March 1. Keep in mind. 16. Crooked Gent reverted to leading last time at Lismore and almost pulled it off going down narrowly. Back 100m here and he could be hard to run down if he finds the front.
How to play it: Tristan De Angel WIN ($2.00 TAB Fixed Odds); save Duke Of Frederick E/W ($9.50).
Tristan De Angel’s impressive debut win at Lismore on February 19
|Race 6 - 4:05PM NRRA COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS QUALIFIER (1400 METRES)|
What this series has proven so far this year is that there are no ‘gimmes’ regardless of how dominant a horse has been or appears. That said it’s very hard to go away from 2. Snitz who has won three three-year-old open races at Doomben on end, a couple of them at 1350m. He did miss a run due to an abandoned meeting following his first-up win but he trialled in good style at the Gold Coast on March 1, handles a soft track, has drawn nicely and is entitled to go close. He looks a smart one and if that’s the case he can win.
Dangers: 15. Iggy The Moocher backs up after winning a Class 2 on a soft 7 at Murwillumbah on Monday and looks a horse with plenty of upside. Whether it is all too soon remains to be seen. He’ll go forward and he’s proven at 1400m and beyond. Keep safe. 4. Runway Ready hasn’t raced since winning as a $1.30 shot at Ipswich at the end of January. Won a Highway at Randwick before that and since her latest win she went around in the same trial as Snitz. She’s hard to leave out. 5. Malmoosa is going to need a bit of luck from the wide gate but she’s setting up very well to perform in this race after an impressive win at Ipswich two weeks ago off a seven week break. Trip suits her and it wouldn’t shock if she put herself right in the finish. Others to consider as each-way chances are 12. Northern Knight and 13. Ferniehirst who have both shown enough to be competitive.
How to play it: Snitz WIN ($1.75 TAB Fixed Odds); Trifecta 2/4-5-12-13-15/4-5-12-13-15.
Snitz wins his barrier trial at the Gold Coast on March 1
|Race 7 - 4:45PM YAMBA GOLD & COUNTRY CLUB TAMBA CUP (1400 METRES)|
This one looks the most open race of the day. 9. Tycoon Rossa took a couple of runs to warm up this time in then put the writing on the wall at the Gold Coast in January with a solid second over the 1400m. Overcame some traffic at Lismore a few weeks ago when back 100m to burst through and win with what looked a little in hand. Drawn nicely again and this is no harder. Good chance.
Dangers: 14. They Call Me Rose is a front running type who kept them at bay over this course a month ago then led again and was run down at Murwillumbah up to 1530m but beat the rest comfortably. Sure to give a good sight again. 2. Silento has some mixed wet track form but he did work home quite well late first-up at Ballina and his second-up record is far superior. Down in class and while he can be a bit in and out he’s an each-way hope at least. 16. Shake Her Bon Bon has a poor win rate but she has been around the mark in slightly stronger class races of late. A repeat of her sound second at Port Macquarie two starts back gives her an each-way hope.
How to play it: Tycoon Rossa E/W ($5.50 TAB Fixed Odds).
Tycoon Rossa arrives in time to win at Lismore on February 19
|Race 8 - 5:20PM FIGHT NIGHT AT THE TRACK APRIL 14 HANDICAP (1100 METRES)|
Several chances in the last. I thought there was merit in the effort of 7. Shelley Beach Road in the Port Macquarie Country Championships Qualifier, leading from a wide gate and boxing on to run fourth behind Victorem. She has won at this track, back in November, handles it soft and can put herself in the race without having to lead. I see no reason why she won’t be very competitive here.
Dangers: 1. Loverboy Charlie has had a stable change to Matt Dunn since his fifth of six at Randwick a month ago. He arguably should have won a BM85 there first-up from a spell and while he has the 62kg to contend with it would be no surprise to see him figure in the finish. 6. Rocket Monkey has really come of age with back-to-back wins and it could set up well for him again here if they get along in front, which is possible. Hit the line hard at Port Macquarie from a long way back three weeks ago and he’s right in this. 2. Star Of Harada is hard to knock having won three of his four starts and got the job done at his first look on a wet track in a small field at Ipswich. He could be a bit one dimensional but if he can race conservatively if challenged for the front then he’s in the mix.
How to play it: Shelley Beach Road E/W ($4.40 TAB Fixed Odds).
Shelley Beach Road gives a sight in the Country Championships Qualifier at Port Macquarie on February 18