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Neil Evans' Tips For Grafton (Thursday)

By Neil Evans

Track likely Soft 6/7 and rail out 5m so on or near the speed early before levelling out

Race 1 BM 58 HCP (2230m):

A traditional test for the stayers to get the meeting underway, with most of these baring modest form well into their prep. Improving 3YO Ballina gelding 3. Lets Torque A Deel has found the line okay in three runs this prep, and racing like he wants the extra ground. Looks well treated at the weights up only 1.5kg from a close-up effort in a BM 66 last start.

Dangers: Grafton 5YO gelding 1. Tickets To Youth also gets out to a more suitable distance after three runs back, and 3kg claim gets him nicely in at the weights. Local 6YO gelding 5. Steppin' Out is hard fit, and battled on okay from the front this grade last start. Draws the fence.

How to play it: Lets Torque A Deel to win. Odds and Evens (First 2): Odds.

Race 2 BM 58 HCP (1412m):

Talented 5YO Coffs Harbour mare 1. Alternative Facts is still learning her trade, but ready for this longer trip. Did her best work late in a good quality Highway at Randwick before should have nearly won flying home in a BM 66 at Pt Macquarie. Up sharply in weight, but this is weaker, and she draws to get a soft run with cover back in the field. The one to beat.

Dangers: Gold Coast 4YO mare 3. Mummentum looks the clear threat from a good draw. Hit the line hard as a well backed fancy resuming at Scone, and won her maiden convincingly second-up last time. Be surprised if anything else wins, but 4YO Coffs mare 4. Yarrinup Flyer finished okay in that same BM 66 behind Alternative Facts, and is also a second-up winner.

How to play it: Alternative Facts to win and quinella 1 and 3. Odds and Evens: Odds.

Alternative Facts runs second at Port Macquarie on January 24

Race 3 MAIDEN HCP (1115m):

Tough sprint, with plenty of chances. Pt Macquarie 4YO gelding 13. Whatacracker flew home under a big weight resuming, but was flat second-up. Has much more to offer in this grade than his one placing from 11 starts suggests.

Dangers: Consistent 4YO Glen Innes mare 7. Mini Me draws to get a nice run, and has run into a placing at he last four starts, although amid thin opposition. Watch the market on 3YO filly and former Victorian 8. Monarch having her first run for new local stable, with a gear change and 3kg claim.

How to play it: Whatacracker each way. Odds and Evens: Odds.

Race 4 OPEN HCP (1215m):

Competitive sprint for the older gallopers clearly headed by smart 4YO Coffs Harbour gelding 5. Plonka who rattled home to beat all bar the winner resuming here in a BM 85, and extra ground is ideal. Has won both previous second-up runs, and looks supremely in at the weights for a dominant Highway winner at Rosehill last spring. Has Country C'ship prospects written all over him.

Dangers: Coffs Harbour 6YO gelding 2. Evopex resumes without a public trial, but fresh form is handy enough, and last time here stormed home to win the BM 87 Maclean Cup. Yet another Coffs galloper, 6YO gelding 10. Triage hasn't been far away since winning a BM 66 three runs back, and won only previous start this track. Age hasn't wearied 7YO Tamworth gelding 1. Desert Marshall who has won three of his last five, charging over the top in good BM 84 field last start, but climbing to 60kg from a wide barrier may be too tough this time.

How to play it: Plonka to win and trifecta 5/1,2,10/1,2,10. Odds and Evens: Split.

Plonka runs second at Grafton on January 27

Race 5 CLASS 2 HCP (1620m):

Ballina 4YO mare 6. Flying Pretty gets her chance to win a second race from 22 starts from an ideal draw and down in weight. Has kept finishing well all prep, generally covering ground from wider gates, and will get a much better trail here.

Dangers: Don't understate 5YO Coffs Harbour gelding 3. Tiomo resuming without an official trial, despite a poor winning strike rate. Was very competitive finding the line right through last prep up to 1900m, and can again finish off behind a good speed. Inverell 5YO gelding 9. Binnacle is suited sharply back in distance after dropping out here last start.

How to play it: Flying Pretty to win. Odds and Evens: Split.

Race 6 MAIDEN PLATE (1720m):

Almost impossible to tip against 3YO Gold Coast filly 14. Vampirina Diamond who hasn't missed a place in three runs to start her career, attacking the line in much deeper maidens. Will jump a hot favourite, and bad luck looks her only enemy.

Dangers: Doubt there are any, but 5YO local mare 13. Stylish Kim can run the quinella third-up off a little freshen-up, and a nice home track trial; while 4YO local mare 10. Brownie Points can be included in wider exotics fifth-up.

How to play it: Quinella 13 and 14. Odds and Evens: Split.

Race 7 C, G & E CLASS 1 HCP (1215m):

Plenty of hopes here, but keen at the value on 4YO Wyong gelding 5. Hubble who can be inconsistent, but is hard fit, and hit the line well in some better quality Class 1s than this.

Dangers: Big watch on capable 5YO gelding 1. Sco Mo Eagle having his first run for more than five months for new local stable after transferring from Goulburn where he ran well. Ex Kiwi who whose only win so far came on debut, but he looked forward in a recent trial, and big weight is off-set by rider's 3kg claim. Coffs Harbour 4YO gelding 2. Bondi Boy finished nicely first up in a slightly deeper race, and while harshly treated rising 5kg, his second-up form is rock solid.

How to play it: Hubble & Sco Mo Eagle to win. Odds and Evens: Split.

Race 8 F & M CLASS 1 HCP (1215m):

Now the girls' turn over the same trip to close the meeting, and while 4YO Taree mare 9. Gypsy Queen is likely to go around at bigger odds, she looks ready to win again after four runs back in suitable conditions. Hit the line late in a handy BM 58 two runs back before stalking the speed and missing by an eyelash last start.

Dangers: Pt Macquarie 4YO mare 2. Zellymay resumes off two quiet trials after flashing home to win her maiden on debut at home last spring when backed in from an each-way price. Emerging 3YO local filly 5. Queenofthecastle has the brightest future, and flew home to just miss resuming at Warwick. Will likely drift a long way back from a wide draw, but second-up last time was close up behind two very handy gallopers. Hard to believe 3YO Taree filly 4. Gold Bracelet jumped $26.00 when she surged home to win her maiden by more than two lengths, but she gets suitable rain-affected ground again, despite taking on some smarter ones here.

How to play it: Gypsy Queen each way and trifecta 2,5,9/2,4,5,9/2,4,5,9. Odds and Evens: Split.

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

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