By Ray Hickson
Tips and race by race preview by Ray Hickson for Sunday’s Country Championships Wild Card meeting at Muswellbrook. Selections based on a soft track.
|Race 1 – 12:45PM GALLOPING GROUP HANDICAP (1280 METRES)|
7. Smart Moove handled the step from a maiden win to a Class 2 with ease as she cruised home at Narromine a couple of weeks back. Gets into this race well, has the inside alley and looks very progressive. Capable of winning again.
Dangers: 3. Highly Desired beat only one home at Mudgee second-up but he should have finished a heap closer. Held up for a run for most of the straight and wasn’t really tested out so only beaten three lengths or so isn’t a bad effort. Keep safe. 1. Quick Nick was too fast winning at Scone then a shade slow out at Port Macquarie and then engaged in a speed battle for the lead before weakening late. Has to stretch to 1280m but entitled to another chance. 2. Rogue Runner is a consistent on pace type and he looked home for a while over this course a few weeks ago but was nabbed late. Sure to give a big sight again.
How to play it: Smart Moove WIN ($2.90 TAB Fixed Odds).
Smart Moove wins easily at Narromine on March 11
|Race 2 - 1:20PM BJ’S WORKWEAR PLATE (1750 METRES)|
9. Vive Marie is a huge query. Imported mare who didn’t beat a runner home in two starts back in August then spelled again. Latest trial not bad behind Spring Charlie and if she can find her best she can be competitive. Watch market for a pointer.
Dangers: 6. Dad’s Blaze might have been a bit stiff not to win at Scone last start, she was held up and had to come across heels before making a dive. Form overall is patchy but on latest effort she’s in the mix. 8. Milsean is almost as big a watch as stablemate Vive Marie, as she's not fired in her five starts but showed Group quality prior. Not disgraced behind Archedemus last time and this is a drop in grade. 4. Blazing Issue was placed at Scone three starts back in a handy effort, shade disappointing at Tamworth last time but worth including in the exotics.
How to play it: Vive Marie WIN ($2.25 TAB Fixed Odds).
Vive Marie runs second in a Wyong trial on March 12
|Race 3 – 1.55PM TAB.COM.AU STARMAKER HANDICAP (1000 METRES)|
1. Cassy’s Sister strolled in on debut at Quirindi then went straight to Sydney and was far from disgraced in a strong form race when fourth behind Stronger and Dresden Green, both of which have run well in town since. Likely leader and take running down.
Dangers: 8. Brazen Gem has had two good trials in Sydney prior to her debut and she scored a soft win at Warwick Farm on March 7. Expect she’ll be handy in the run and is a big watch. 5. The Okay Corral was throttled right down when running third in his second trial which was almost three months after his first. Well drawn and in very good stable so keep him in mind. 6. Upper East Side gained an inside run and went on to win his only trial this time in, the same trial as The Okay Corral. Also drawn well and no surprise to see him show up.
How to play it: Cassy’s Sister WIN ($2.40 TAB Fixed Odds).
Cassy’s Sister runs fourth at Randwick on March 6
|Race 4 – 2.30PM TAB.COM.AU STARMAKER HANDICAP (1000 METRES)|
1. Depth That Varies couldn’t have been more impressive at his only start with a big win at Tamworth back in October. Settled well off the speed in his trial at Wyong and was very good in running a close second. Looks to be going well and if he runs up to his debut he’ll take beating.
Dangers: 5. The Lifeline was the winner of the Wyong trial, he ran out to a big lead and held on to win by less than half a length. Expect he’ll look to lead from the wide gate and you have to respect the Waterhouse/Bott yard bringing him here. 6. Toto is a local with a couple of handy trial wins against his name. Did it easily at Wyong in the latest and drawn ideally. Well worth including in the chances. 2. Deviate was a soft track winner at Scone three starts back and freshened up since placing there on January 31. Ran fifth in the Gimcrack on debut at Randwick. Keep in mind.
How to play it: Depth That Varies WIN ($2.50 TAB Fixed Odds).
Depth That Varies runs second to The Lifeline in a Wyong trial on March 12
|Race 5 – 3.10PM JOHN DEERE – PVM PLATE (1000 METRES)|
16. In Fiore was also a handy trailer before being scratched from its scheduled debut. Tested out a little late in the trial to be narrowly beaten. In good hands and worth keeping very safe, especially if there's support.
Dangers: 14. Peggy’s Time did a very good job off a wide gate over 900m here three weeks ago, racing four and five wide and staying on bravely. That says the wide gate isn’t as big a concern and she could be placed again. 4. Spanish Missile was placed at 100/1 here two starts back then backed it up with a handy effort at Tamworth two months ago. Freshened and trialled okay since. Include in the chances. 8. Moscow Mistress is a front running mare who was a short priced favourite at Narromine last start and just battled late. Back 100m could help. Each-way.
How to play it: In Fiore E/W ($4.20 TAB Fixed Odds).
In Fiore runs second in a Newcastle trial on February 27
|Race 6 - 4:15PM PIRTEK MUSWELLBROOK HANDICAP (1450 METRES)|
2. Black Wand was a drifter in betting second-up but hit the line pretty well in a slowly run race to claim second. Extra 150m in his favour, he will need some luck from a tricky gate but if he goes forward he should take some beating.
Dangers: 4. Splash Of Lime is racing in excellent form and wasn’t disgraced in a Highway at Randwick before cruising home at Coffs Harbour. Versatile type and it’s hard to leave her out while in such good touch. 6. Hubble ran well first-up at an unsuitable trip here and stepping up in distance is a plus. Probably gets back but look for him to be running on strongly. 11. Londinium is lightly raced and has shown ability. Freshened up since placing at Coffs Harbour in January. Trialled twice and in top stable so bears close watching especially if there’s support.
How to play it: Black Wand E/W ($4.80 TAB Fixed Odds).
Black Wand runs second at Goulburn on March 2
|Race 7 - 4:25PM GODOLPHIN TIARA (1450 METRES)|
7. Majestic Pedrille ran a super race first-up at Tamworth behind a very much in-form sprinter and was closing on the line. Fitter, has won here and the extra ground is a plus. She should be right in the finish of this.
Dangers: 5. Valree is a backmarker generally and it’s interesting that the blinkers go on her here. Ran on well late at Tamworth in the Qualifier two weeks ago. If the blinkers sharpen her up she’ll take holding out. 8. Je Suis Tycoon has been excellent in two runs back from a break, closing on a quick sprinter at Port Macquarie then again hitting the line at Tamworth. Both wins at 1000m but on her two runs she should handle the trip. Go well. 9. Cut The Mustard is a miler-middle distance mare resuming and she was given a solid hit out in winning a trial a few weeks ago. Distance suits fresh and it wouldn’t surprise to see her in the finish.
How to play it: Majestic Pedrille WIN ($2.50 TAB Fixed Odds).
Majestic Pedrille runs second at Tamworth on March 10
|Race 8 - 5:05PM COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS WILD CARD (1280 METRES)|
5. Noble Boy can bounce back from a shock defeat in the Goulburn Qualifier. Perhaps he didn’t like the firmish track there but he has a suitable gate given he likes to get back and run home, Hugh Bowman to ride and if he’s in order his previous form is superior. The horse to beat. Read trainer Todd Blowes' comments here.
Dangers: 11. Hit The Target is way over the odds on his excellent effort at Tamworth where he had to work from a wide gate on a solid speed. Drawn favourably this time and he has good form around his easy Newcastle win two starts back. Good chance. Read more about Hit The Target here. 7. Moobi disappointed in the Tamworth Qualifier but he didn’t run a bad race in hindsight given he ran the second fastest last 600m of the race. Muswellbrook will suit him, he will get back but he should be running on hard. Read trainer Cody Morgan's comments here. 10. Let’s Rebelle hasn’t raced for a month but she has won four of her last five starts and she trialled quite nicely leading into this. Drawn to have every chance.
How to play it: Noble Boy WIN ($2.00 TAB Fixed Odds).
Noble Boy runs fourth in the Goulburn Qualifier on March 2
Read comments from the trainer of every runner in the Wild Card here.
|Race 9 - 5:40PM JTS REALTY SPRINT (1000 METRES)|
7. Queen Ablaze has a nice gate in a race where there should be good speed to get the sit and pounce. Won well at Gosford then just touched out in a three way finish at Wyong a month ago. Racing well and sure to be in the finish of this.
Dangers: 12. Iamacrumpet has won twice over this track and distance and resumes since a solid third at Gosford where she weakened late after leading. Will be right on the speed here and can take running down. 5. Call Me Brad has been pretty good in his last couple with placings at Armidale and Tamworth in races with a bit of depth. Back to the 1000m probably suits in a fast run race so keep him in mind each-way. 9. Akeed is probably a bit better over 1200m or so but he’s fitter for two trials against some handy horses and from the soft draw he’s one horse to include in everything. If there’s support perhaps he should be elevated too.
How to play it: Queen Ablaze WIN ($3.10 TAB Fixed Odds).
Queen Ablaze runs a close third at Wyong on February 28