By Neil Evans
Track Good 3/4 and Rail True
|Race 1 CLASS 4 HCP (1300m):|
A Country C'ship Preview gets us underway on an expected hot day and firm track. Improving four-year-old 2. Rothenburg was good working home late first-up in a Federal at Canberra over 1000m, and this looks an ideal distance rise. Carries 1.5kg less, although mindful won't get the tempo up front to chase in a smaller more tactical field.
Dangers: Resuming local four-year-old 3. Leg Work is the clear threat from a handy trailing draw. Hasn't publicly trialled but comes to hand quickly, and has rock solid Highway form. Be shocked if one of these doesn't win, although likely leader 5. Ilvermorny has won two of his last three, including this track, and can give some cheek from the inside draw and carrying only 53kg after the claim; while four-year-old 6. Zelago will be running on, with nice weight relief second-up.
How to play it: Rothenburg to win; quinella 2 and 3; first four 2,3/2,3,5/2,3,5,6/2,3,5,6. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 2 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1600m):|
Improving Kembla mare 2. Noble Belle is good value here from a softer draw. Has done her best work late in the last couple up to the mile, and can peak fourth-up in a race with less depth.
Dangers: Home track six-year-old 4. Outahand can improve getting out to the mile; while improving filly 7. Ita surged home for an impressive maiden win in heavy ground at Muswellbrook, and the second horse has since won.
How to play it: Noble Belle to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 3 MAIDEN HCP (1200m):|
Debutant three-year-old 3. Oasis King steps out behind a dominant trial win seven weeks back, draws well, and the Outreach stock is starting to have a real say. Raps are good, and this is a fairly weak maiden.
Dangers: Improving three-year-old 7. Mystic Vein was only run down late third-up at Orange; while well-bred filly 9. Zattastar was disappointing on debut at Taree when heavily backed, but can bounce back on the bigger track.
How to play it: Oasis King to win. Odds and Evens: Odds a special
Oasis King wins a trial at Rosehill in November
|Race 4 CLASS 1 HCP (1300m):|
Progressive three-year-old filly 7. Zouly got the map and conditions to suit third-up at Nowra, but still loved the way she extended down the middle to put them away easily, and she's headed for deeper races. Even better suited on the bigger track, and has been kept up to the mark at the trials.
Dangers: Watch the betting on four-year-old 5. First Crown who hasn't started for nearly 11 months, but has been fitted with two trials. Include provincial filly 8. Showtime Lady who can improve back on firm ground after failing in the ground first-up in a stronger race at Wyong.
How to play it: Zouly to win. Odds and Evens: Split
Zouly wins at Nowra on December 31
|Race 5 C, G & E MAIDEN PLATE (1400m):|
Now the boys lock horns at set weights in a more open affair. Tough three-year-old 7. Carlisle Bay is ready to win at only his third start. Attacked the line impressively at Nowra, and this looks an ideal journey on a more suitable bigger track.
Dangers: Punters launched into three-year-old debutant 13. Vivenzo at Nowra, but he got a long way back before working home okay. Bigger track and longer trip are also in his favour. Expect improvement from lightly raced three-year-old 8. Eyes Of Dubai, with winkers replacing blinkers. Drawn to get a handy trail, and will find this easier than three average efforts at the provincials this prep.
How to play it: Carlisle Bay to win. Odds and Evens: Odds
|Race 6 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1000m):|
Tricky race with plenty of hopes. Local seven-year-old 1. Alfstar comes back to a much more winnable race after working home okay in Highway and Federal company last two. Won this trip and grade three starts back, and while he's been lumped with 62kg, loves it dry.
Dangers: Honest seven-year-old 8. Zeta's Rocket will find this easier than his last few at the provincials, and drawn to get plenty of cover while consistent six-year-old 2. Charlie Chap is the best of the rest.
How to play it: Alfstar to win. Odds and Evens: Split.
|Race 7 F & M MAIDEN PLATE (1400m):|
The girls bring us home at set weights in another open affair. Keen on local three-year-old 16. Reelclass who loomed to win second-up at Canberra as a hot favourite, but was flat over the final 150m. Should be right at her peak third-up.
Dangers: Promising filly 11. Loveland resumes for only her second start off two controlled trials. Draws to get a sweet run back along the inside. Progressive three-year-old 14. Twice On Sunday can figure at her fourth start. Has bounced on to the speed, and been narrowly beaten in her last two at Orange, and also ready to peak. Expect improvement from 7. I Think I Can who is fitter after not running out the trip on debut at Nowra; while 10. Kung Fu Mushu is better suited back to country level fourth-up.
How to play it: Reelclass to win and trifecta 11,14,16/11,14,16/7,10,11,14,16. Odds and Evens: Split