By Neil Evans
Track likely Soft 5/6 and rail true with possible showers
|Race 1 CLASS 2 HCP (1600m):|
A Heat of the Rising Star over the mile gets us underway. Back in grade with a 1.5kg claim, progressive five-year-old 3. Stuck With You is the clear one to beat. Finished best to win a CL2 at Ipswich three runs back before working home okay in a deeper race at the same track a fortnight back. Blinkers come off.
Dangers: Local four-year-old 10. Volfoni hasn't missed a place in his last four. Draws well with a significant weight drop, and can run the quinella.
How to play it: Stuck With You to win and quinella 3 and 10. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 2 MAIDEN PLATE (1700m):|
Generally tricky affairs maidens over this sort of distance. Coffs four-year-old 2. Bold Contender backs up quickly after working home late in a CL1 here, and draws to get a soft run from the inside draw.
Dangers: Local four-year-old 4. Flying Euros has been testing the patience for a long time ahead of his 16th start. Has shown gradual improvement in three runs back from a spell, but looks under the odds from the draw over this journey. Improving three-year-old and ex-Victorian 7. Point Counterpart is hard fit, and was strong through the line in a CL1 at Armidale. Rises sharply in weight, and doesn't want it too wet.
How to play it: Bold Contender to win. Odds and Evens: Evens
|Race 3 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (2200m):|
Now the restricted stayers' turn. Tough eight-year-old 7. Kilmarnock is rock fit, and a real staying type. Powered home for a dominant win this grade over the mile before again finishing late in a similar race here when well backed at an each-way price. Will run this right out!
Dangers: Qld four-year-old 2. Two Smokin Barrels is the immediate threat from the inside draw. Was a dominant maiden winner at Doomben two runs back before not far away in deeper CL1 metro company when run down late. If "Wiggo" is crossing the border to ride, must be a serious chance. Local six-year-old 1. Bullet Shot hasn't won for a while and carries a big weight, but hit the line at big odds in stronger grade at Ballina, and is good value in this.
How to play it: Kilmarnock each way and quinella 2 and 7. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 4 MAIDEN HCP (1000m):|
Promising four-year-old 1. Marshall Dillon rides back into town after a six month break, and looks ready to go off a strong heavy track trial win at home. Didn't miss a place in three runs across his first prep, and draws well.
Dangers: Most of these are either lightly raced or really battling. Improving three-year-old 6. Hypertension almost snuck under the market's guard first up at Ballina missing by a nose at big odds, and finished well to beat all the bar the winner at his only previous second-up run.
How to play it: Marshall Dillon to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 5 OPEN HCP (1200m):|
This looks ideal for smart Coffs five-year-old 1. Plonka who chased home hard-fit Bugalugs under this weight first-up. Gets to his best trip, and boasts a 50 percent strike rate second-up from four starts.
Dangers: Local five-year-old speedster 2. Bugalugs led home the top selection last start, but meets him now 2.5kg worse off. Be shocked if anything else wins, although if they rattle along up front, Port six-year-old 7. Patriot can charge over the top late third-up. Honest seven-year-old 3. Nothingforthepress is best of the rest from a nice draw, but sharp drop back in distance from the Ballina Cup is a big query.
How to play it: Plonka to win and trifecta 1,2/1,2,7/1,2,7. Odds and Evens: Split
Plonka runs second at Grafton on January 24
|Race 6 C, G & E CLASS 1 HCP (1200m):|
Open race, with plenty of chances. Home track five-year-old 1. Don't Cry Mama is the class runner, and should have won first-up at Lismore when savaging the line late, and can overcome a tough draw in a big field.
Dangers: Local five-year-old 3. Great Marlow has a habit of looming to win, but not finishing off. Got home okay resuming at Lismore, and second-up form is sound enough. Include in exotics stablemate 14. Special Union who can peak second-up at this trip; while don't dismiss 9. Epplause at a huge price. Worked home okay resuming in this grade, and should settle closer here with the winkers going on.
How to play it: Don't Cry Mama to win and box exacta 1,3,9. Odds and Evens: Odds
|Race 7 F & M CLASS 1 HCP (1200m):|
Now the girls' edition, and it doesn't get much easier. Home track three-year-old filly 2. Tara Jasmine resumes with no public trials and is drawn wide, but has plenty of talent. Couldn't have been more impressive on debut here in spring before going under as a red-hot favourite when working home late at Lismore.
Dangers: Coffs mare 3. Bella Broadway is also drawn out, but over the odds second-up after trailing home a smart youngster at Ballina resuming off a long break. Capable mare 4. Sniperess was disappointing as a well backed favourite frist-up off a lengthy spell, but can improve here. Progressive filly 6. Lasting Kiss steps up from a narrow maiden win, and draws to park right behind the speed; while local mare 5. Estroncio also rises in grade after rushing home to win her maiden here carrying 1kg more.
How to play it: Tara Jasmine to win and Bella Broadway each way. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 8 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1400m):|
Plenty of chances in the closer as well headed by four-year-old 6. Southern Swing down in grade second-up. Just held his ground resuming in a CL2 at the Sunshine Coast, but natural improver over more ground and draws to get good cover. Was scratched from a home meeting on Sunday to be saved for this.
Dangers: Drawn right alongside, stablemate 8. Maspoeta gets his chance also rising in trip. Has been threatening to win one all prep. Honest six-year-old 2. Viking Raid has an ordinary strike rate, but gets to his best distance third-up after missing by a long neck at Lismore. It's been a while since 3. Stampede Warrior has saluted, but generally been competitive in deeper races, although will need to slot in from a wide barrier.
How to play it: Southern Swing to win. Odds and Evens: Evens
Southern Swing runs fourth at Sunshine Coast on January 17