By Neil Evans
Track Soft 5 (possible downgrade) and rail True so slowly trending away from the fence.
|Race 1 MAIDEN PLATE (800m):|
Open dash to start where most have had plenty of chances already. Keen on Ballina 4YO 4. Dukatti who despite only two placings from nine starts resumes off the back of deeper and more consistent form-lines. Was only run down late first up last prep, and draws well.
Dangers: Big watch on debutant Taree filly and smart trial winner 12. Quite Neat. Local 4YO 2. Dark Comedy has been freshened after two solid runs, and will park on the speed from the good gate; while big watch on Muswellbrook filly 10. Gotta Minute from smart stable who raced against stronger in the spring.
How to play it: Dukatti each-way and box trifecta 2-4-10-12.
|Race 2 MAIDEN HCP (1400m):|
This looks a race in three! Lightly-raced local gelding 2. Spender is well placed third-up after hitting the line hard in his last two. Draws to get plenty of cover, with near-side blinkers on for the first time.
Dangers: Ex Victorian 3YO now with rival local stable 1. Galway will look to settle off the speed and get home; while Newcastle 3YO 3. Schemer was a little disappointing after stalking the speed this track last start, but is hard fit and gets a soft draw. Will be shocked if anything else wins, but include local mare 4. Tam O'Shanter in exotics who is short of her best journey, but will be running on fresh for leading local yard.
How to play it: Spender each-way and box exacta 1-2-3
|Race 3 BM 66 HCP (1300m):|
Tricky race, but Port Macquarie gelding 2. Mister Smartee improved to just miss as a short-priced favourite third-up in similar grade, and draws well.
Dangers: Newcastle 4YO 8. Winner's Lane can be hard to catch, but last couple have been solid and sneaking down in the weights.
How to play it: Mister Smartee to win.
Mister Smartee runs sixth in the Port Macquarie Country Championships in February
|Race 4 BM 66 HCP (1600m):|
Armidale gelding 2. New Endeavour hasn't won for a while, but banging on the door. Was well specked in the market when hitting the line hard against stronger at Muswellbrook two back before a tidy effort last start. Draws even better here and senior rider goes on.
Dangers: Armidale gelding 9. Nistelrooy has been close-up in slightly weaker grade, but in nicely at the weights after the claim; while local 6YO 4. Boncosta has been around the mark over longer trips this prep, and will again park on the speed from a good draw.
How to play it: New Endeavour each-way
|Race 5 C, G & E CL1 HCP (1400m):|
Very open race. Newcastle gelding 6. Eagleworks hasn't won for a long time and been up for a while this prep too, but continues finding the line in deeper races, including not far away in a BM 58 two back behind Oakfield Geronimo who ran in the Provincial C'ship qualifier at Kembla on Saturday.
Dangers: Local trainer Brett Dodson has every chance of winning the race named in his honour with lightly raced gelding 4. Trust In Cash who resumed to win his maiden this track, and drops in weight for tougher assignment. Another last start maiden winner, Grafton visitor 5. Wu Long Shi is also nicely placed from the inside draw and down in weight. Gold Coast-based 3YO 3. Weigela failed this grade last start after bolting in his maiden as a hot favourite at Ballina. Will go forward, but doesn't want it any further; while Tamworth 4YO 8. Kadarchi is another runner who struggles to win, but keeps finishing off okay, and looks well placed again to launch into the finish for leading trainer/rider duo.
How to play it: first four 4-5-6/3-4-5-6-8
|Race 6 CL1 HCP (1400m):|
Another tricky field, although thin in depth. Armidale filly 3. Heaven's High looks ready to win again fourth-up. Was good resuming at big odds in a stronger race before justing missing last start, and racing pattern should suit her late in the day.
Dangers: Smart Newcastle mare 1. Keeva is fitter third-up and a long way back in class from the Provincial C'ship qualifier at Newcastle; while Tamworth mare 2. Whisper Delovely is honest and comes back in grade, but first time up to 1400m. Port Macquarie filly 4. Eurogem has struggled to progress from her maiden win four runs back, but this isn't strong and draws the fence.
How to play it: Heaven's High each-way and box exacta 1-2-3.
|Race 7 Open Hcp (1000m):|
Competitive and open speed battle, but high class 5YO 1. Raiden is still the one to beat, despite big rise in weight. Finished hard to just miss in two straight at Doomben before again getting home hard in a much stronger CL6 at Eagle Farm in good Saturday company. Needs the speed on up front!
Dangers: Ballina veteran 2. Hydrazine has been close-up in BM 78 company in his last two; while Newcastle 4YO 5. Mr Grumpy hasn't won for a long time, but hit the line impressively at Gosford and Port Macquarie, and will be finishing on again.
How to play it: Raiden to win and box exacta 1-2-5.
|Race 8 BM 58 HCP (1000m):|
Very keen on Grafton mare 4. Princess Elle who only needs even luck from the wide barrier first-up to be the one to beat! Won two of four in the spring, unbeaten fresh, and looked sharp in a recent trial sitting wide and edged out by a smart one.
Dangers: Muswellbrook mare 1. Sister Joy also draws wide and was only fair resuming, but form in the spring superior to most of these, and improves second-up. Last start winner Port Macquarie filly 9. Nicconi Lass; and Newcastle 4YO 10. The Outcast are the best of the rest.
How to play it: Princess Elle to win.
Princess Elle runs second in a trial at Coffs Harbour on March 4