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 – 12:45PM TABCORP HOLDINGS LTD HANDICAP (1400 METRES)|
In a very winnable race 1. Harbouring is worth forgiving a second-up battling effort at Quirindi where he was slow away. Game on debut and if he jumps cleanly he’ll probably lead, that being the case he should take catching.
Dangers: 10. Wee Lassie is a 26 start maiden but her recent form has been consistent and her run at Quirindi last time had merit after she raced wide. Gets 7kg from the top weight and that gives her every chance. 3. Off The Roof got a long way back on debut and worked home fairly without threatening. Likely better for that and the extra 200m a big plus. No surprise if he’s a sharp improver. 8. Precious Arli produced her best effort in nine starts to date when running on strongly from last into a placing at Dubbo. Another shot at 1400m for her and she has the inside gate. Each-way claims.
How to play it: Harbouring WIN ($2.50 TAB Fixed Odds).
Harbouring’s promising debut at Scone on January 31
|Race 2 - 1:20PM LION PLATE (1600 METRES)|
5. Sprezzatura broke his maiden at this meeting last year and while his form has been mixed, to be fair, he produced a nice effort in the Dubbo Qualifier at his latest start. Back in class here, he gets back so will need some tempo, and on his favourite track he’s a good each-way hope.
Dangers: 4. Potent Force has been battling a little in Highway races in Sydney but at the same time he hasn’t been far away. Easiest task he;s had for a while and he gets Hugh Bowman to ride. Entitled to be in the finish. 1. Christo hasn’t raced for a month since a dominant maiden win over this trip at Dubbo at just his second start. Still has some upside and he’s a good chance to measure up. 9. We Can’t Be Beaten won very well three starts back over a mile and his last couple up in distance have been okay but not as impressive. Might press forward from the wide gate and he can improve.
How to play it: Sprezzatura E/W ($10.00 TAB Fixed Odds).
Sprezzatura runs third in the Dubbo Qualifier on February 10
|Race 3 – 1.55PM RACING NSW HANDICAP (1200 METRES)|
5. Crim was responsible for an enormous effort before a spell when narrowly beaten over a mile at Dubbo in July. Given two trials and the latest was excellent behind a smart type and in the smallish field he’s a big chance to win fresh.
Dangers: 7. Miss Hugo A Gogo had her chance at 1300m at Dubbo last start and was just touched out so coming back in distance is in her favour. Expect she’ll look for a spot on the speed and she’s a major player. 3. Highly Desired disappointed when resuming at Wyong as he tailed out to last. Better off up in distance where he might be able to lead and that would give him a big chance to turn it around. 2. Attalea ran a nice race at Gilgandra two starts back then in a solid race at Parkes just over a month ago was game again. Back a notch, drawn well and the claim helps. Not out of it.
How to play it: Crim WIN ($4.20 TAB Fixed Odds).
Crim runs second in a trial at Orange on February 16
|Race 4 – 2.30PM MUDGEE DRAGONS PLATE (1200 METRES)|
5. Trojan knows nothing but to run well and in a wide open race he’s a good chance to break through fresh. Placed in six of his seven starts, drawn okay and fitter for a trial in a strong heat at Orange. No good thing but should be very competitive.
Dangers: 8. Philadora has the wide gate to contend with but if she does find a break or two she’s a huge chance. Narrowly beaten fresh with a big gap to third. Had a few chances but is right in this once more. 13. Opening Stanza has been even in two starts and resumes with Hugh Bowman in the saddle. Awkward gate but much rather include her than dismiss. 14. Tale Of The Kraut has the gate to take up the running and was only swamped late at Dubbo third-up. Include in the each-way chances.
How to play it: Trojan E/W ($5.00 TAB Fixed Odds).
Trojan runs into third at Mudgee in December
|Race 5 – 3.05PM THE LAWSON PARK HOTEL HANDICAP (1200 METRES)|
2. Sahara Emaar is ex-Gerald Ryan and first-up for top local stable on the back of a very nice trial at Orange recently. Good race for him fresh and is a Kembla winner at 1300m. Like to see some support and if it’s there he should go close.
Dangers: 1. Kookabaa was unsuited in a Highway at Randwick two starts back but form either side of that is good enough for him to feature in this. Hit the line from the second half at Dubbo and the extra 100m would seem to be a plus. Go well. 5. Key Factor had some excuses behind Kookabaa two runs ago then led and fought on bravely to prevail at Dubbo. Will be on the pace here and while the last 100m might be a worry she can give a sight. 7. Shesabitfoolish wasn’t disgraced when resuming at 1000m and shapes as though the trip will be in her favour. Drawn nicely enough and expect some improvement from her.
How to play it: Sahara Emaar E/W ($4.80 TAB Fixed Odds).
Sahara Emaar runs a close third in an Orange trial on February 16
|Race 6 - 3:45PM ORIENTAL HOTEL HANDICAP (1600 METRES)|
2. Kingsbridge is impossible to go past the way this race shapes up for him. Looking for more ground second-up but charged late in an eye-catching effort and gets to a mile now. Yet to miss this track/trip and has a big class drop and big jockey change.
Dangers: 8. Western Parade has mixed his distances lately but is racing very well so coming back to a mile is no concern. Safely held at 2100m at Orange last time but still game and he’s hard to leave out. 7. Appetizing was unsuited at Canterbury on a wet track last start so forget that. Prior he led and was a solid second at Goulburn over this trip. Will go forward and no surprise if he gives some cheek. 5. Bulletson had some favours but ran well at Gosford two starts ago but very plain at Hawkesbury though didn’t jump the best. Won only start here and on his best form he’s one of the chances.
How to play it: Kingsbridge WIN ($2.90 TAB Fixed Odds).
Kingsbridge runs on late second-up at Orange on February 16
|Race 7 - 4:30PM CDRA COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS QUALIFIER (1400 METRES)|
1. Ori On Fire was six weeks between runs at Orange last time and he ran well and is better off at the weights here. Reacts at his second run from a freshen, was game in this race last year and is arguably going better. Hugh Bowman has ridden him once before and there’s plenty to like about his chances. Read more about him here.
Dangers: 10. Caprera is the big query here. Talented type but he’s only had two runs in the last two years and backs up after an excellent second at Rosehill last Saturday. Only win was a dominant one at 1400m and he’s drawn well so wouldn’t be leaving him out. 3. I Am Capitan is super consistent and he posted a deserved win at Orange after a string of Highway placings. Up in weight and untried at 1400m but he’ll acquit himself well again. 13. Meraki Miss is down 7kg on her even third at Cowra six weeks ago. Has trialled since and she’s another that can cause trouble under the right circumstances. 5. Barbass is down 5.5kg on his solid second-up effort after 18 months on the sidelines. Good enough to feature if he gets the right run.
How to play it: Ori On Fire WIN ($3.20 TAB Fixed Odds).
Ori On Fire runs third behind I Am Capitan at Orange on February 16
Read comments from the trainers of all runners in the Qualifier here.
|Race 8 - 5:10PM CLUB MUDGEE HANDICAP (1400 METRES)|
Anyone’s race. 9. Love For Willow has run on nicely over shorter trips in two runs back from a spell. Winner scored by a big margin last time so she wasn’t that far from the rest. Probably needs an even tempo or better and if she gets it she’s a good each-way chance now she’s up in trip.
Dangers: 7. Written In Vain worked to find the lead in a much stronger race at Taree when resuming from a spell. Excels at this trip and can only be fitter, drawn nicely and can see her running a nice race. 1. Tokyo Bullet came from last to win first-up at Dubbo though did get favours along the inside. Up 3kg and drawn wide here but stays in the same grade and he can’t be discounted. 10. Pierone has been okay in two runs back from a spell though he did miss the start second-up so some excuse there. Up in trip and drawn wellm has top jockey on board so if he’s going to perform then he has the chance.
How to play it: Love For Willow E/W ($9.50 TAB Fixed Odds).
Love For Willow’s second-up run at Quirindi on February 15