By Ray Hickson
Tips and race by race preview by Ray Hickson for Sunday’s Country Championships meeting at Mudgee. Selections based on a good track.
|Race 1 – 12:55PM CADMAN EQUINE HANDICAP (1600 METRES)|
2. Bad Boy For Love has had two runs back and both are better than they look on paper. Too far back last time and was running on but badly checked early in the straight. Picked up to make some late ground behind Healing Hands. Mile suits him and has a good chance to find his best.
Dangers: 1. Zidane had excuses last start at Canterbury, sitting wide throughout, solid at the same track prior too. Back to a dry track and with blinkers on he is placed to run well. Last win was in November 2018 so that’s an issue. 5. Colesburg hasn’t won since December 2018. Drew wide and raced on the speed when a battling second over a mile at Goulburn second-up. Should have no excuses here just the strike rate and winless run the concern. 4. Equilibrium was unsuited in the Gilgandra Cup on a heavy track and that should be overlooked. Previous form is strong over the mile and is capable of bouncing back to form.
How to play it: Bad Boy For Love E/W ($6.00 TAB Fixed Odds). Odds & Evens: SPLIT.
Bad Boy For Love’s last start at Dubbo on February 16
|Race 2 – 1.35PM HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAX WHITBY HANDICAP (1400 METRES)|
5. Scottish Soldier comes off a complete forgive run at Dubbo where he missed the start and had to settle last. Still made good ground and the run is better than it looks. Nice first-up run, Hugh Bowman rides for his family who own. Looks a good each-way chance.
Dangers: 3. Contango will be on the pace and he’s led at his last couple and given a reasonable sight without winning. Back 100m on his Goulburn fourth last start, drawn to land right there and has to be a good chance. 1. Brother Bassy hasn’t done a lot wrong in three starts for as many placings. Sat outside the lead and just couldn’t get past at Muswellbrook when up to 1500m almost a month ago. Should be thereabouts again, might be a under the odds though. 11. Kazumi has run on with purpose into third at big odds at her last two starts and is not out of it while throw in 7. Caveman in the trifectas at juicy odds. His third-up run at Scone was solid and the extra 100m is a plus.
How to play it: Scottish Soldier E/W ($1 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: ODDS.
Scottish Soldier’s last start at Dubbo on February 16
|Race 3 – 2:10PM GOOREE PARK COUNTRY PLATE (1200 METRES)|
18. The Poet might be the one. Only had the one barrier trial but did it very stylishly leading most of the way over 1010m at Dubbo a couple of weeks ago. Very winnable race and if he is above average he’s a real contender.
Dangers: 6. Forbidden Palace was a drifter in betting but really caught the eye first-up behind Beauty Betty, who has since placed in the city, at Scone and was taking good ground off the winner. Can only be better for it and if he can run up to the he’s a big chance. 5. Chastise is starting to find some consistency with a string of placings in recent starts. Had his chance but boxed on okay at Gunnedah last time, almost two months ago. Bowman rides, worth keeping in mind. 13. Confinement tried hard when resuming at 1000m at Scone a few weeks ago and will be fitter. Was being reeled in by the third horse late and goes up in trip but drawn to get a soft run. Has upside and worth including in the chances.
How to play it: The Poet E/W ($5.50 TAB Fixed Odds). Odds & Evens: EVENS.
The Poet wins a trial at Dubbo on February 16
|Race 4 – 2:45PM RACING NSW HANDICAP (1200 METRES)|
4. Risk And Reward is set to run a big race here after two runs back from a spell including a first-up win. Drops in class after working a bit when holding on for third behind Healing Hands at Dubbo. Tough customer and should take some getting past in the straight.
Dangers: 8. California Fox should race on the pace too and he’s trialled quite nicely leading into a first-up run. Fresh form says he might need the hit out but surely aiming at the Country Championships heat in two weeks so expect him to show something. 5. Golden Avenger has yet to fire beyond 1000m and this is his first start at 1200m so it’ll take a nice ride from Hugh Bowman to coax him through the extra trip. Led all the way last time but that was the first time he’s led since his debut. 1. Sneak Preview is another headed to Coonamble in a couple of weeks. He has a task here first-up with 63kg and a wide gate but he rarely runs a bad race and look for a pointer from him for next time.
How to play it: Risk And Reward WIN ($3.10 TAB Fixed Odds). Odds & Evens: EVENS.
Risk And Reward runs third at Dubbo on February 16
|Race 5 – 3:25PM ROBERT OATLEY VINEYARDS PLATE (1600 METRES)|
1. Crime Wave is an up and comer who couldn’t have been more impressive in his maiden win at Scone first-up. Hit the line like a mile will suit him and this isn’t much of a class rise being a Class 1 & maiden race. Could easily repeat the dose and is at an each-way price.
Dangers: 8. Empowered Madam got way too far back at Dubbo last start but no knock on the way she found the line into sixth place. Was back to 1400m there so the mile is much more her go as evidenced in her previous form. Another good each-way hope. 4. Make An Offer broke through at start six with quite a strong on pace win at Bathurst three weeks ago. First try at the mile, expect him to roll forward and wouldn’t surprise if he’s in the finish again. 7. Buzz ‘N’ Joe gets the blinkers on after a fair effort at Canberra over 1400m third-up from a spell. Drawn to have every chance so inclined to give him another with the shades on.
How to play it: Crime Wave E/W ($5.00 TAB Fixed Odds). Odds & Evens: SPLIT.
Crime Wave wins at Scone on February 14
|Race 6 - 4:05PM TABCORP HOLDINGS HANDICAP (1200 METRES)|
2. Katgully Red might be suited with a bit of potential speed on here. Liked the way he found the line behind a handy one at Scone off a month’s break and any repeat of that effort sees him in the finish somewhere.
Dangers: 8. Northern Lights started double figures when she resumed at Dubbo a couple of weeks ago where she ran on nicely into second place. Extra trip a plus, has Bowman to ride and while drawn wide she’s an each-way chance at least. 1. Tolemac is an interesting runner having his first run for the new stable. Strike rate poor but led his recent trial by a big space before holding on for second and drawn the inside. Rather include than dismiss. 3. Entitlement won a Class 1 over this course four starts back. Led as favourite in latest at Newcastle, on a soft 7, and was reeled in late holding third. Can give a sight.
How to play it: Katgully Red E/W ($4.80 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: EVENS.
Katgully Red runs second at Scone on February 21
|Race 7 - 4:45PM CDRA COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS QUALIFIER (1400 METRES)|
12. Smart Moove looks under the radar here on two very good lead up runs for this Qualifier. Nice effort at Bathurst then ran the fastest last 600m of 35.30 (Punter’s Intelligence) and had some traffic when closing late back to 1100m. Drawn wide but with speed on will have the chance to run on. Good each-way hope.
Dangers: 4. Healing Hands is a talented type unbeaten this time in with wins at Bathurst and Dubbo. Best career win was his Class 1 at Dubbo over 1400m so trip no issue, he has to be a chance. Small query on him if he’s put under pressure. 2. Bel Diablo was a Canterbury winner in July and he’s had a few trials to prepare for this race. Placed three of four first-up, but second-up record is three from four so that’s the worry. Good enough to win this, though, and can’t be left out. 10. Speed Camera proved a bit too strong winning first-up from a couple of months at Bathurst, same race as Smart Moove. Drawn to get the right run and extra trip a plus. Can show up. 7. Press Box has been racing in much stronger city company so gets her chance to find form here. Whether those harder races have affected her will to win is a question given she’s hardly been hitting the line. On best efforts is in the mix.
How to play it: Smart Moove E/W ($19 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: EVENS.
Smart Moove runs seventh at Canterbury on February 21
|Race 8 - 5:25PM ALFABS HANDICAP (1400 METRES)|
11. Redjina just missed at Bathurst two starts back, arguably should have won, then complete forgive run at Newcastle when cut right out of the race going for inside runs. Should land in the first few and good chance to bounce back.
Dangers: 13. Zamali caught the eye roaring home at Dubbo last start like the 1400m here will suit him. He can be a bit in and out but decent form through his two 1400m starts and he’s a good each-way hope. 2. American Storm has a horror draw but it means he will have to push forward and if he lands in the lead or outside the leader he could give some cheek. Form before his first-up run was honest and could surprise here. 12. Sandstorm showed improvement second-up when just off the speed and boxing on to run second at Dubbo over this trip. Bowman rides and if he can improve again he’s one of the chances.
How to play it: Redjina WIN ($4.40 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: ODDS.
Watch the stewards footage of Redjina’s last run at Newcastle on February 17