By Ray Hickson
Tips and race by race preview by Ray Hickson for Sunday’s Country Championships meeting at Muswellbrook. Selections based on a good track.
|Race 1 – 12:55PM AQUIS STARMAKER HANDICAP (1000 METRES)|
It’s a bit of a speculator but 4. Al Sahara could run a cheeky race on debut looking at her trials. Attacked the line nicely at Wyong then chased home Golden Slipper runner Personal at Randwick. Expecting her to run well at each-way odds.
Dangers: 1. Pee Dee has been far too strong in two recent wins in Scone from on the pace and expect him to be prominent from the jump. Gives away a lot of weight but has the form on the board. 3. Zeftabrook might have been run off her feet on debut in the Max Lees at Newcastle but she kept at it and will no doubt benefit from a bit of time. No trials leading into this, betting a strong pointer. 9. Splendiferous showed improvement into her second trial and while finishing second there she wasn’t let go. Respect the stable bringing her here.
How to play it: Al Sahara E/W ($17 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: SPLIT.
Al Sahara runs third in a Randwick trial on March 12
|Race 2 - 1:35PM POWER FM PLATE (1000 METRES)|
1. Rapid Eagle is the big query in the race having his first run for Cody Morgan. Showed speed in his first three starts but wasn’t tested at all in running last in his trial at this track. Winnable race, he’s hard to beat.
Dangers: 2. Shame Warned was tried over further last time in and his placings were at 1400m. He won the trial Rapid Eagle contested and looked pretty good doing it. Worth some respect fresh. 16. Inland Retreat is a well bred mare on debut for good stable and has the one trial on her home track under the belt. Bit hard to judge given they were well split up in that trial and she does have bar plates on. Still, keep safe. 3. Valar Dohaeris chased home a promising type at Tamworth a few weeks back and the winner there has won again since. Needs to repeat the effort but blinkers on so could back it up here.
How to play it: Rapid Eagle WIN ($2.30 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: SPLIT.
Rapid Eagle’s trial at Muswellbrook on March 3
|Race 3 – 2.10PM HICTECH WEAR TECHNOLOGY HANDICAP (1000 METRES)|
9. Deviate can run a race fresh in what looks to be a fast run race on paper. She ran fourth in a Highway first-up last time and wasn’t far away before a shock failure and was spelled after it. Each-way, but expect her to run well.
Dangers: 2. Risk And Reward won well at 1000m first-up from a year off then solid in stronger races over more ground. If he can find the front he should be hard to run down. 8. Dubai Harbour probably wants 1200m but he doesn’t run bad races and has gate one with the prospect of a reasonable tempo. Could easily find himself in the finish. 5. Fussinado has very good 1000m form and resumes with a quiet trial under his belt. Handy winning strike rate and she’s another who can run well especially if the race is genuinely run.
How to play it: Deviate E/W ($6.50 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: SPLIT.
Deviate’s trial at Warwick Farm on March 10
|Race 4 – 2.45PM MUSWELLBROOK COAL PLATE (1750 METRES)|
7. Chargement is working up to a win after three runs back. Nice effort second-up then favourite at Tamworth and should have finished closer. Extra trip looks okay and on his last couple he’s going to be hard to beat.
Dangers: 3. My Empire stayed on well up on the pace at Tamworth last time over a mile and is also looking close to a peak effort fourth-up from a three year absence. Go well. 9. Blazing Babe won well here two runs back on a heavy track and looked to battle a bit at Hawkesbury last time. Inclined to give another chance as she’s only lightly raced. 11. Elotrolado has had a few chances but her two runs since a placing here have been sound at Newcastle in solid maiden company. Each-way.
How to play it: Chargement WIN ($3.60 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: ODDS.
Chargement runs fifth at Tamworth on February 25
|Race 5 – 3.25PM GODOLPHIN TIARA (1450 METRES)|
1. Bellastar comes into this race in great form with a feature win at Port Macquarie and a close third in a Country Championships Qualifier at Taree. Reacts well to a month between runs and it’d be a surprise if she didn’t give a good account.
Dangers:9. Got Your Six is fitter for two runs back and held the rest at bay when second at Warwick Farm a couple of weeks ago. Only won once but has been top three in seven of her nine starts and races on the pace. Must include. 7. Hardspot is flying at the moment with successive Tamworth wins from the front. Test here up in class and distance but can’t knock her otherwise. 3. Ellie’s Encore had good support at ran up to it with a closing third at Newcastle last time out. Pretty honest mare who will get back and run on and is an each-way chance.
How to play it: Bellastar E/W ($7.00 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: ODDS.
Bellastar runs third at Taree on February 23
|Race 6 - 4:05PM PIRTEK MUSWELLBROOK HANDICAP (1280 METRES)|
5. Madame Pauline looks well placed to break through third-up with the blinkers on. Beaten favourite at her two runs back but she did attack the line nicely last time after giving away a start. Gets her chance.
Dangers: 4. Captain Solo is a last start maiden winner at Port Macquarie but it was as easy as you like and he did have a couple of Gosford placings prior to that. On the way up and wouldn’t surprise if he goes close. 7. Henschel is chasing a hat-trick after wins at Bathurst and Dubbo. This is harder but another on the up, drawn well and is one of the chances. 8. Fender scored an upset win on debut at this track and distance and the form has been okay with the runner-up winning since then. Likely to go forward and could give a sight.
How to play it: Madame Pauline WIN ($2.40 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: SPLIT.
Madame Pauline runs second at Tamworth on March 8
|Race 7 - 4:45PM COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS WILD CARD (1280 METRES)|
1. Bobbing is the best horse in the race and looks to get the sort of tempo he needs to get over the top of them. Placed in the Kosciuszko fresh last time and if he runs up to that here he’ll win. Looked good winning a trial earlier in the week so expect him to fire.
Dangers: 5. Mahalangur has some good form around him last preparation with the Hawkes stable and his last win was over a couple of subsequent Group winners. He’s now a gelding and his trial win a month ago was strong. On his best he’ll take beating. 11. Mr Wong has been unlucky not to win both starts this time in and he, like Bobbing, would be advantaged if they run along strongly up front. Wide gate no worry for him, look for him to be running on. 7. Two Big Fari is hard to knock and toughed it out to beat Mr Wong at Warwick Farm last start. Yet to put a foot wrong, he goes forward and should be in it for a long way. 6. Over And Above didn’t really fire last time in but his best form is good enough to see him be competitive. Trialled with Mahalangur, blinkers on, each-way chance.
How to play it: Bobbing WIN ($5.00 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: ODDS.
READ comments from the trainer of every runner in the Wild Card here.
Bobbing wins a trial at Scone on March 16
|Race 8 - 5:25PM ALLWELD SERVICES HANDICAP (1500 METRES)|
10. Polish Train won nicely here two starts back, on a heavy track, then went to Tamworth and didn’t have a lot of luck late when beaten a couple of lengths. Can be a bit hit and miss but nice race for her here and she should be competitive.
Dangers: 16. Mick’s Regret looks the best chance at odds, he comes through the same race as Polish Train finishing just ahead of that horse though he did have every chance. Each-way claims. 6. Spirit Of Elijah won over this course three starts back in a similar sort of race, latest effort a solid one at Gunnedah to place. Capsble of being somewhere in the finish of an open race. 7. Bullet Storm has been favourite in two of his three runs back and hard in the market in the other and performed fairly. Blinkers go on here so might be worth one more chance.
How to play it: Polish Train WIN ($3.80 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: SPLIT.
Polish Train runs seventh at Tamworth on March 8