By Neil Evans
Track around Soft 6/7 and rail out 5m from 1000m to 300m into a cut/away
|Race 1 CLASS 1 & MAIDEN PLATE (2300m):|
The stayers get us rolling at set weights. Improving three-year-old 6. Olympic Gaze can make it two from four this prep back in more suitable grade from a softer draw. Returned with two strong closing efforts at the provincials before no match for the winner at Scone who ran a record, but can hit back hard here.
Dangers: After running three frustrating second placings when hard in the market, four-year-old mare 11. The Fringe will find this easier than a plain effort in stronger provincial grade, but will need to get over from the outside gate. Capable four-year-old 2. Foxtrot Bravo powered home from well back to claim his maiden two starts back before sticking on okay at the Sapphire Coast. Back up in weight, but drawn to get a charmed run.
How to play it: Olympic Gaze to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 2 MAIDEN HCP (1280m):|
Got plenty of time for three-year-old filly 1. Pelgrave who ran three straight placings in her first prep, and with an ounce more luck would have broken through. Resumes off a trial, and drawn to get the right sort of trail.
Dangers: Expect a different two-year-old colt here in 6. Royal Shakespeare who was heavily backed from a big price on debut at Canterbury, but was slow to begin and never looked likely in heavy ground. Will appreciate the bigger track. Improving local five-year-old 2. The Fossil did his best work late fourth-up at Dubbo behind a handy sprinter, and screaming for this extra trip; while keeping safe resuming filly 5. Zou Island who has been fitted with two trials.
How to play it: Pelgrave to win. Odds and Evens: Split
Pelgrave runs fourth in a trial at Gosford on January 19
|Race 3 CLASS 2 HCP (1450m):|
US-bred three-year-old 2. Saquon resumes off a six month spell and two progressive trials. Was a dominant maiden winner in heavy ground before spelling, and should come to hand quickly from a good draw.
Dangers: Provincial four-year-old 6. Misterzee has been threatening to win one since last spring, regularly getting home but finding one better. Carries his lightest weight in a while after the claim, and can be ridden a little closer in this field. Honest four-year-old 3. War Cat hit the line hard third-up, and can peak here out to an ideal journey.
How to play it: Saquon to win. Odds and Evens: Evens
|Race 4 MAIDEN PLATE (1450m):|
Liked the way improving Scone three-year-old 5. Ananagram finished off from midfield here last start when stepping up in distance. Prefers soft going, and this shapes as a peak trip.
Dangers: Four-year-old 2. Capital Venture was harassed and taken on a long way from home at Walcha, and not surprisingly weakened in the run home. Likely ridden a little quieter here. Local mare 10. Avalene has been placed 11 times from 22 starts, and made up plenty of late ground behind a promising one at Dubbo; while another one from Scone 7. Nothing's Sacred can improve getting up in trip with blinkers going on.
How to play it: Ananagram to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 5 F & M BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1280m):|
Thin race. Smart mare 4. Rua Raposa resumes off an eight month spell for the leading provincial yard. Has trialled okay, and prefers rain-affected ground, and can lump the 60kg fresh.
Dangers: Stablemate filly 5. Unearthed finished off okay first-up at the provincials, and can settle a lot closer here, although rising significantly in weight. Be surprised if anything else wins.
How to play it: Rua Raposa to win. Odds and Evens: Split
Rua Raposa runs fourth in a trial at Gosford on January 19
|Race 6 C, G & E BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1280m):|
Now the boys turn. Honest four-year-old 2. Bravio drops back significantly in class from two fair efforts in BM 72 metro grade. Back a little in distance is also a plus, and while there's still a query in the ground, he draws to strike.
Dangers: Improving three-year-old 7. Foxstorm and hard-fit 5. Heredero are the best of the rest.
How to play it: Bravio to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 7 CLASS 1 HCP (1280m):|
Lightly raced and progressive three-year-old 3. Okudah ran home well resuming in a provincial BM 58, and this looks weaker.
Dangers: Provincial four-year-old 1. Budhwar has only been out of a place five times from 15 starts, and will find this easier than a first-up provincial BM 64 when he weakened from the front. Fitter now, with multiple gear changes, but still under the odds carrying this weight; while improving four-year-old 2. Rightful Heir can go close first-up for an in-form trainer/rider combination.
How to play it: Okudah to win and quinella 1 and 3. Odds and Evens: Odds.