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Neil Evans' Tips For Grafton (Thursday)

By Neil Evans

Track likely Soft 7/Heavy 8 and rail out 4.5m from 1200m to WP so likely on speed early before gradually trending further away and from further back

Race 1 BM 58 HCP (2230m):

We start with the stayers in a moderate and tricky affair. Local 5YO gelding 2. Tickets For Youth has worked home nicely in his last couple, and should be right at his peak from the inside draw. Placed at his only previous start in the heavy, and gets a crucial 3kg claim.

Dangers: Ballina mare and last start BM 58 winner here 6. Rival Mo finished nicely off a cosy run deep into her prep, and will be out to repeat the dose from the inside draw, up just 1kg; while 3YO Ballina gelding 7. Let's Torque A Deel had been progressing okay before failing badly here over the same trip in Soft 7 ground, and must be a huge query in the likely heavy.

How to play it: Tickets For Youth to win. Odds and Evens (First 2): Evens

Race 2 MAIDEN PLATE (1015m):

The first of several sprints at set weights for the maidens, Coffs Harbour 3YO 4. Denusian is banging on the door after attacking the line well in his last three in deeper company, and draws to ideally coil up on the fence and just off the speed. Sire was capable in wet ground.

Dangers: Glen Innes 4YO mare 7. Mini Me is progressing in similar fashion, although still trying to crack the nut after 14 starts. Good effort here last start when beating all bar the winner on a Heavy 9 holds her in good stead for this. Watch the market on local filly 10. Holiday In Dubai (The Factor x Dubawi Image by Dubawi) having her first start without a recent trial, but draws well for strong trainer/rider combination, and bred to handle these conditions; while the lone 2YO in the field, 12. Love A Diamond only trialled average, but gets in on a postage stamp weight after rider's 3kg claim under the Plate conditions of the race. Sire was a two-time Group 3 and soft track winner.

How to play it: Denusian to win and quinella 4 and 7. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 3 MAIDEN PLATE (1015m):

Testing second division of the same race is wide open headed by Qld visitor and 3YO filly 12. Vivid Fortress (Sebring x Lesley's Choice by Exceed And Excel) who debuts in blinkers, and bolted in the latest of three trials at the Gold Coast. Has high class wet track breeding on both sides.

Dangers: Watch the betting on debutant 3YO Gold Coast gelding 5. Vibrant City (Oamaru Force x Curzon Dancer by Danehill Dancer) who won his latest trial by nearly six lengths, and sire was smart on wet tracks. Coffs Harbour 4YO 2. Kingoftheharbour did it tough in the Soft 7 second-up, but the blinkers go on; while 3YO Murwillumbah filly 10. Reappear has done little in five runs on Good tracks in first prep, but this is a drop in grade, and she's bred to handle the heavy so may just be a pure wet tracker.

How to play it: Vivid Fortress to win and box trifecta 2,5,10,12. Odds and Evens: Evens

Race 4 MAIDEN PLATE (1720m):

Out to the middle distance now for the maidens again at set weights. Despite not having placed yet from six starts, improving 3YO Gold Coast filly 13. Zavy's Hope can break through up in distance and down in quality. Finished nicely fourth-up at Murwillumbah, and is bred to handle a heavy track.

Dangers: Progressive 3YO Murwillumbah gelding 6. Allied Invasion has been placed in three of his last four, and should also find this easier, coming out of that same race. Draws wide, but can roll forward and sit right on the speed. Sire was a heavy track winner, and dam is by 1990 Golden Slipper winner Canny Lad who was a beauty in the wet. There'll be a big gap in the market to the rest, but don't dismiss 4YO local mare 8. Brownie Points who was okay late fourth-up here, and desperately looking for more ground. Another one from a Canny Lad mare by a Group 1 Kentucky Derby winner.

How to play it: Zavy's Hope to win. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 5 F & M CLASS 1 HCP (1420m):

Another open one, but after four runs back in generally tougher company for leading Murwillumbah trainer Matt Dunn, 3YO filly 6. Devine Grey can win again up to the ideal trip. Hit the line late carrying 1kg more in a deeper Class 1 at the Gold Coast last start. Untried in heavy, but Northern Hemisphere breeding suggests she'll respond.

Dangers: Pt Macquarie 4YO mare 2. Zellymay resumes off two trials 18 weeks after sweeping home to win a one-off debut run. By Group 1 French Derby winner Lope De Vega who has produced plenty of good wet trackers, although 1420m fresh in heavy ground is a big ask. Improving 3YO Gold Coast filly 5. Kareno stalked the speed before landing her maiden in good style here fourth-up, and did run well at her only previous start on a heavy rating. Rival Pt Macquarie mare 3. Firefly Poppy is tough and been good in only her second prep, but didn't finish off from midfield last start. Up 2kg from that, and a query in this ground.

How to play it: Devine Grey to win and box exacta 2,5,6. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 6 C, G & E CLASS 1 HCP (1420m):

Good competitive race, with a stack of chances. This set up nicely at good odds for 4YO Gold Coast gelding 6. Rumberella in ground he loves. Did his best work late resuming at home, and was a dominant maiden winner second-up last winter charging home on a Heavy 8 this track. Draws well so doesn't have to drift a mile back, and has the best wet track credentials in the race.

Dangers: The handicapper hasn't missed 4YO Coffs Harbour gelding 1. Bondi Boy but he looks well suited over this trip second-up in conditions to suit. Hit the line nicely resuming in a BM 68 at the Gold Coast, and at only previous start in the heavy flew home to beat a good maiden field at Wyong last autumn. Sire was unbeaten from four starts in Soft and Heavy ground. Murwillumbah 4YO gelding 3. Malawi Gold is fair more talented than his one win from 15 starts suggests. Been placed a further seven times, and has attacked the line against stronger in his last two. Little longer trip is a plus, and bred to handle wet ground, although record in soft ground so far is plain. Liked the way 5YO local gelding 2. Rioli finished off third-up at Pt Macquarie after an even run in a Highway, and well in at the weights after rider's claim. Eagle Farm 3YO gelding 4. Wowsers was outclassed resuming in a stronger Class 2 at Doomben, but is smart enough on her day, and won only previous start in the heavy. Trainer has removed the blinkers, but won't want to drift too far back from the inside draw. Include emerging 3YO Pt Macquarie gelding 7. Deep Dream who won his debut at Taree on a Heavy 9.

How to play it: Rumberella and Bondi Boy both each way and first four 1,3,6,/1,2,3,4,6,7/1,2,3,4,6,7/1,2,3,4,6,7. Odds and Evens: Split

Race 7 MAIDEN HCP (1420m):

Very open battle again for the maidens over the same trip. Keen on 3YO Qld filly 5. Enterprise Keren who can strike at third start after finishing off well in two runs against deeper opposition on soft ground at Doomben. Looks nicely in only 1.5kg over the limit weight, and sire is a renowned wet tracker producer.

Dangers: Improving Gold Coast filly and another one from the Edmonds stable, 8. Jay Curve drops back from two useful runs in handy maiden company at Doomben, and while first time in these conditions, she's by top notch wet track sire Not A Single Doubt. Far from convinced about Armidale 3YO 1. Thousand Island in heavy ground at only second start, but charged home from a mile back in an eye-catching debut run at Tamworth when easy in betting, and stable is a shrewd.

How to play it: Enterprise Keren to win. Odds and Evens: Split

Enterprise Keren runs third at Doomben on January 23


Feature race of the day at Class 5 level, and of course wide open, with plenty of well credentialed chances. Smart 4YO Murwillumbah mare 2. Gracie Belle is good value third-up in this ground. Flashed home first-up for a dominant Class 4 win at Doomben before against hitting the line at the Sunshine Coast behind a quality one. Building a strong wet track record, and wide draw shouldn't be a concern late in the day.

Dangers: Improving 4YO mare, and stablemate to top selection, 13. One For Betty has been consistent this prep winning two from five, and sharpened up in a smart recent home trial win. Coffs Harbour gelding 3. Plonka is also a Highway winner, and built a smart record, but disappointed as a short priced favourite here second-up on a bog track last start.

How to play it: Gracie Belle to win. Odds and Evens: Split.

Race 9 OPEN HCP (1115m):

High pressure sprint headed by Eagle Farm 5YO mare 5. Helfuchi who looks one of the better weighted runners all meeting over her pet trip. Has found the line well in her last three up to Class 5 level and metro level, and draws to get a charmed run.

Dangers: Smart local short-course mare 2. She's Choosie has a terrific strike rate, and was good leading all the way in the BM 82 Inverell Shorts before a touch out of her grade in a BM 85 here last start. Comes back to the field though in heavy ground. Rival home track 6YO gelding 6. Saxophone can also peak third-up on the limit weight; while watch the market on Kempsey 8YO 7. Rogue Missile who resumes off a solid open class trial, and normally performs fresh.

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

Helfuchi runs second at Gold Coast on February 1

Race 10 CLASS 3 HCP (1015m):

Very tough sprint to finish, with a stack of hopes. Keen at the value on home track 4YO mare 10. Lady Clare who resumed with a Class 2 win at Ballina before doping her best work late up in grade at her next two. Looks well weighted, and all three career wins so far have come in soft ground.

Dangers: Murwillumbah 4YO mare 5. Vernazza has disappointed in two runs back leading both times, but looks more capable here down a touch in weight and with key gear changes, although unknown in these conditions.

How to play it: Lady Clare each way. Odds and Evens: Split.

All the fields, form and replays for Thursday's Grafton meeting including the NRRA Qualifier

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