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Neil Evans' Tips For Grafton (Monday)

By Neil Evans

Track improving to near a Good 4 and Rail out from 4.5m and 5.5m from the mile to the post so on-pace early before levelling out late.

Race 1 BM 58 Hcp (2385m):

A fairly even group of stayers kick us off, and with tactics and tempo always crucial, most have a chance. Port Macquarie 5YO mare 4. Veganza has been threatening to win a second time all prep, but patience is starting to run thin. Disappointed when heavily backed in a Class 1 on Tuncurry Cup day when he just didn't let down from the turn in usual fashion. Thrown into this after rider's 4kg claim, and longer trip also suits. On the score of ability, still the one to beat!

Dangers: Coffs Harbour 5YO gelding 1. Real Time Warrior virtually stays at the same weight after rider's claim as his strong front-running win this track two weeks back. Drawn to find the top again, and seems to save his best for here so again will take some running down; while 9YO Gold Coast gelding 3. Catch Me Latar has been up for a while and doesn't win often, but took decent ground off Real Time Warrior last run, and had previously held his own in stronger metro company.

How to play it: Veganza to win and quinella 1 and 4. Odds and Evens (First 2): Split.

Race 2 F & MAIDEN PLATE (1020m):

Thin sprint for the girls at set weights augurs well for nicely bred 3YO Eagle Farm filly 8. Sefire who finished off nicely on debut at the Sunshine Coast, and can break through here from off the speed.

Dangers: Expecting improvement again at fifth start from 4YO Armidale mare 3. Lonny Lonny who was well backed this track last start, but didn't finish it off. Shorter trip a plus, and drops significantly in weight. Local 5YO mare 5. Savanna Jeune hasn't been far away in her last three, and draws to get a nice trail; while include 3YO Ballina filly and first starter 9. Toots Is Tops (Warhorse x Trainwreck by Honours List) who has trialled okay.

How to play it: Sefire to win. Odds and Evens: Split

Sefire runs third at Sunshine Coast on September 6

Race 3 C, G & E MAIDEN PLATE (1020m):

Now the boys' turn over the same trip, and 3YO Eagle Farm gelding - and stablemate to previous on top selection - 11. The Wild One can break through first-up off a nice metro trial. Will be forced back from a wide gate, but in only previous run this year, did his best work late in a much deeper 2YO race. The one to beat!

Dangers: Ballina 3YO gelding 10. Shy Boy resumes without an official trial, but took on better maidens in Qld last prep. Murwillumbah 3YO gelding and first starter 8. Jacksprat (Monashee Mountain x Zolene by Zabeel) found the line well in his only trial, and is by a renowned US speed sire. Include in exotics debutant 3YO Ballina gelding 6. Blue Boy McCombe who has trialled only fair, but draws the fence and wears blinkers; while local 4YO gelding 3. Miracle Knight has held his ground okay in consecutive Class 1s here, and while still yet to run a place from nine starts, gets a lovely draw to trail the speed.

How to play it: The Wild One to win. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 4 BM 58 HCP (1020m):

Tricky sprint to digest, but 4YO Tamworth gelding 2. Congregate can go back-to-back after overcoming a wide barrier and plenty of pressure before the turn to win his maiden fresh when heavily backed. Was scratched from Moree on Sunday to be saved for this.

Dangers: Local 5YO gelding 5. Institution loves to race on the speed. Has run two straight seconds at home, and gets in well after rider's 3kg claim. Another local, 7YO gelding 1. Ministry Of Fear has found the line from well back in his last three runs, although back in trip is a concern, and will need a power of speed on up front to get over the top. Local 5YO gelding 7. Tobasco is consistent enough over this short course, and draws to get a cosy run; while you're never quite sure what's coming with stablemate 5YO local mare 3. Invincible Tammy but she comes back from stronger races, and should be in the finish with a 2kg claim. Watch the market on resuming 5YO local mare 6. True Pride who hasn't started for more than nine months, but last spring beat a solid Class 1 field before tackling Highway company; while include in wider exotics 8YO local mare 9. Ilia who doesn't want it any further, but draws well and carries her lightest weight in a long time.

How to play it: Congregate to win and trifecta 2,5/1,2,5,7. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 5 MAIDEN HCP (1730m):

Progressive 3YO Newcastle gelding 1. Blazing Sunrise can break through at third start after finding the line nicely in heavy ground over the mile behind a good horse at Wyong. Only goes up 1.5kg on that effort.

Dangers: Ballina 4YO gelding 4. Patriot Missile will go back from a wide barrier, but watch for him steaming home late. Finishing strongly in his last two this track, and down in weight; while Eagle Farm 4YO mare 6. Grumble also looks better suited fourth-up after mixing form in deeper maidens. Doubt anything else can win.

How to play it: Blazing Sunrise to win. Odds and Evens: Split

Blazing Sunrise runs second at Wyong on September 1

Race 6 CL2 Hcp (1120m):

Good competitive race, with a stack of chances. Local 5YO gelding 11. Purple Cup can bounce back after just being overhauled late this track when heavily backed, and drops 2kg from that run.

Dangers: Ballina 5YO gelding 1. Viking Raid has no real fresh form, but scored a dominant win this grade back in summer en route to a start in a Country C'ship qualifier, so has a touch of quality on his side, but handicapper hasn't missed him with 61kg. Lightly raced 6YO Coffs Harbour gelding 3. Hard Merchandise has returned off a 12-month break in good order just missing second-up at Ballina, and leading country hoop gets back on. Another Ballina runner from an under-rated stable, 4YO gelding 4. Dorset Coast stuck on well under 60kg in a BM 58 last start behind Ashman who has since won again, and gets in well at the weights, but has to overcome a wide draw. Casino 5YO gelding 9. Mecum won a BM 58 at home first-up, and was close-up again this grade last start. Will go forward and stalk the speed. Kempsey 4YO mare 8. Campari Soda charged down the middle in a BM 58 this track to maintain that strong second-up record, but this looks tougher, and inside draw won't help her natural pattern; while 4YO Coffs gelding 12. Spirit Of Cherokee has been consistently finishing off her races, and is best of the rest.

How to play it: Purple Cup each way and first four 1,3,11/1,3,4,11/1,3,4,8,9,11,12/1,3,4,8,9,11,12. Odds and Evens: Odds

Race 7 CL1 HCP (1430m):

Coffs Harbour 5YO gelding 2. Tiomo is much better than his one win from 24 starts suggests. Has hit the line hard in his last two in handy company, and gets the right trailing draw to charge over the top.

Dangers: Expect big improvement from 4YO Gold Coast gelding 1. Kingly who failed to run on resuming, but has trialled since, and bolted in his only previous second-up start. Improving 4YO Kempsey gelding 3. First Time Lucky powered home to just miss second-up this grade and track, and extra trip from a low draw is a plus; while 4YO local gelding 5. Tis Toby will need plenty of luck from a wide draw, but likes to travel forward, and form this prep is rock solid for a race like this.

How to play it: Tiomo to win. Odds and Evens: Split

All the fields, form and replays for Monday's Grafton meeting

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