By Neil Evans
Track Good 4/Soft 5 and rail true so pattern on-pace early before trending towards the middle
|Race 1 2YO HCP (1000m):|
We start with competitive claiming race for the babies, yet no stable is claiming! Giving Port Macquarie gelding 1. Full Of Spirit another chance after disappointing as an odds-on fancy this track on debut, but run was better than it looked caught wide and wayward in the straight. Trial previous was smart.
Dangers: Wyong filly 9. Royal Eclipse was beaten a long way as an odds-on favourite at Quirindi, but had a tonne of excuses. Lost spot early, forced wide and then got into trouble early in the straight, so a complete forgive. Can bounce straight back! Liked the trial of debutant Newcastle filly 8. Magic Palace (Spirit Of Boom x Laurinel Argie by Palace Music) who wasn't extended for top provincial stable. Muswellbrook colt 4. Sir Piccolo (Real Saga x Sirindhorn by Husson) has also trialled nicely for debut, but drawn wide; while expect improvement from Newcastle filly Divisadero after a plain debut run at Quirindi and the blinkers go on for the first time.
How to play it: Full Of Spirit to win and quinella 1 and 9.
|Race 2 MAIDEN PLATE (1000m):|
Open affair at set weights, but local filly 14. Texas Target looks suited second-up after hitting the line nicely resuming here over shorter trip.
Dangers: Port Macquarie filly 11. Nicconi Lass comes out of that same race when only beaten a long neck at big odds, and draws well, but top selection looks stronger over extra trip. Muswellbrook mare 8. Emmy's Our Girl should be around the finish, despite a modest run at Scone, but that was a deeper maiden and previous effort was good enough for this. Local 6YO mare 6. Clara Et Moi has come back stronger this prep hitting the line hard both runs, and raced against stronger last winter. Watch on resuming Newcastle 3YO 4. Rooster Cogburn who showed nothing last spring, but won a recent trial; and include Armidale 3YO 1. Delmore who resumes without a trial, but will be finishing on late.
How to play it: Texas Target to win and first four 6-11-14/1-4-6-8-11-14.
|Race 3 CL2 HCP (800m):|
Local 5YO 2. Conforth beat a good horse two back at Tuncurry and then got two far off the speed at Ballina in a decent BM 66. Back in trip a concern, but will be hitting the line. .
Dangers: Grafton 4YO 1. Purple Cup led all the way two runs back at home before just missing from off the speed at Ipswich. Big weight rise, but if the rider can use the inside alley, he'll be right there. Local 4YO 3. Man With A Plan was specked in the market resuming before defying all the chasers over the same short course trip. Has obvious gate speed, but up in weight.
How to play it: Box exacta 1-2.
|Race 4 BM 66 HCP (2000m):|
Locally-trained gelding 5. Boncosta is the one to beat now he's set around his best trip. Led all the way up in distance last start, and while up sharply in weight and drawn wider, this is a weak field.
Dangers: Taree 8YO 2. Loving Home campaigned fairly in country cups last spring, has been freshened for this and draws well. Local 5YO 9. Bromach finds it hard to win, but this is his best trip and gets a nice trailing draw; while Newcastle 3YO 7. Peyton Place had nice form until struggling at the mile last start, and likely to find this too far.
How to play it: Boncosta to win.
|Race 5 CL1 HCP (1200m):|
Good race! Very keen on Wyong filly 2. Pluck And Lucky fourth-up from a better draw. Played up behind the barrier and then got too far back at Tamworth two starts ago before ridden closer in a stronger CL1 at Newcastle. Fit now and draws to sit midfield and pounce early in the straight.
Dangers: Taree-trained 3. Bellastar is a promising filly who won first-up at home from well off the speed, and then finished hard again as a heavily-backed favourite. Step up in trip ideal. Newcastle filly 6. Nodoubtacracker was heavily backed when storming home to win fresh at Muswellbrook before upset as a short priced favourite at home, but out to the right trip here. Gosford mare 9. Winterconi hit the line hard from well back at Newcastle in her first run for 10 weeks, so naturally fitter and drawn well.
How to play it: Pluck And Lucky to win; quinella 2 and 3; and trifecta 2-3-6/2-3-6-9.
|Race 6 MAIDEN HCP (1400m):|
After 10 starts this looks the race for consistent Newcastle 3YO 3. Schemer to break through. Well in the market when finishing nicely at Muswellbrook, and before that not far off good provincial middle/stayer Magic Charlee at Scone. Up in weight, but just needs early cover to finish over the top in a thinner race.
Dangers: Local 7YO 4. Spender got home well resuming over shorter trip, and much better suited at 1400m, but draws wide. Local mare 5. Sunset Ruby has an average record, but improved greatly last start; while Taree gelding 2. Black Range is second-up over more suitable journey having only just made his debut as a 6YO!
How to play it: Schemer to win.
Schemer runs second at Muswellbrook on March 1
|Race 7 BM 58 HCP (1400m):|
Not often a horse with only three wins from 33 starts looks one of the better bets on the card, but Port Macquarie mare 1. Splash Of Lime looks a cut above! Had strong form up to CL3 level earlier in the year before finishing hard to win this grade two back, and then a terrific closing effort beaten under 2 lens in a Randwick Hwy over the mile. Up naturally in weight, but gets a cosy run midfield from the draw.
Dangers: Local mare 3. Rispetta mixes form, but is fit and draws the fence, and at her best would be in the finish.
How to play it: Splash Of Lime to win.
Splash Of Lime finishes close up in a Highway at Randwick on March 2
|Race 8 BM 58 HCP (1400m):|
One of the tougher races saved for last, but consistent Newcastle 4YO 2. Titus can go on with it after winning second-up this grade at Cessnock. Normally travels just behind the speed, and ran a stack of placings last year. Up in weight but this isn't strong.
Dangers: Local 7YO 1. Star Fest lines up for the 75th time but comes back in trip after an easy win from off the speed this track and trip.
How to play it: Titus to win.