By Neil Evans
Track Good 4 and Rail true so should play even early before slight trend to the outside.
|Race 1 MAIDEN PLATE (1500m):|
Tough race, but 3YO Newcastle gelding 9. Sir Winkle should progress to this trip second-up after just missing on debut at Tamworth over 1200m. Did have three trials for leading stable coming into that, so forward enough and bred to get over ground.
Dangers: Local 4YO 2. Captain Tom has had four runs this first prep and worked home nicely at Kempsey last start. Hard fit and draws the inside gate; while Sir Winkle's stablemate 7. Mended hit the line resuming at Tamworth and will also enjoy the extra journey.
How to play it: Sir Winkle to win.
|Race 2 C, G & E MAIDEN HCP (1100m):|
The internationally-bred 1. James Richard was all around it last prep in decent quality maidens without winning before a five month spell. Obviously bred to get over much longer, but tuned up for this trip with a sound effort at Newcastle and subsequent work reportedly good.
Dangers: Smart local 3YO and favourite 3. Gumshoe went close in his first prep and resumes off a three month break. Looks suitable too for Scone 3YO 4. Pyro who was close up in stronger provincial maidens in the spring. Lightly-raced local 6. Dragon's Flyer has been strong to the line in his last couple; while Newcastle-trained 3YO 5. Niatross was put away after one run in July, but returns as a gelding with two trials under his belt.
How to play it: James Richard each-way and quinella 1 and 3.
|Race 3 F & M MAIDEN HCP (1100m):|
Open battle, but 3YO Wyong filly 4. Fearless Mila can go one better after being run down on debut at Taree. Fitter now, and previously looked good in Newcastle trial win.
Dangers: Progressive filly 8. Mapili will improve second-up off an even effort resuming at Gosford and draws the fence. Backers of 3YO Newcastle filly 5. Mary Magpie have had to be patient through seven starts, but she's been around the mark, just missing three runs back at Kempsey before out-driven in a tight finish at Armidale behind a nice horse. Well-bred 3YO Hawkesbury debutant 6. Game Of Circles looked good in a dominant recent trial win; while include another first starter Wyong-based filly 7. Joingy who also won a recent trial at home.
How to play it: Fearless Mila each-way.
|Race 4 CL2 HCP (1000m):|
Slick short-course affair, but on top is Newcastle filly 3. Miss Powerbelle who just missed in a Gosford CL1 last start after rewarding punters as a short-priced fancy at Tuncurry. Bred to fly and will come over and sit outside the speed.
Dangers: Not far behind is smart Coffs Harbour 4YO 2. Vacate who hasn't started since back-to-back wins a few months ago. Proven weight carrier who comes to hand fresh. Taree filly 5. Malea Magic has been very competitive in her last three and only just nabbed late this track last start. Should park right behind the speed from a good barrier. Doubt anything else can win, although Wyong-trained 1. Tikkitala is clear best of the rest.
How to play it: Miss Powerbelle to win; quinella 2 and 3; and box first four 2-3/1-2-3-5.
Miss Powerbelle runs second at Gosford on December 31
|Race 5 CL3 HCP (1500m):|
Tricky race, but Newcastle-trained 2. Clevanicc has found the line okay from well back in two runs this prep, and peaks now third-up over longer trip.
Dangers: Local mare 5. Splash Of Lime won in weaker grade two runs back before just missing when rattling home in CL2 at Taree last start. Drawn to get a lovely smoother midfield on the minimum weight and again hit the line. Tough local mare 3. Let's Rebelle has the class and 3kg claim, but the extra distance is a query.
How to play it: Clevanicc to win.
Clevanicc's second-up effort at Coffs Harbour on December 27
|Race 6 BM 66 HCP (1100m):|
Like the least experienced, but most progressive runner in 3YO Taree filly 8. Good Excuse first-up over this trip. Rounded out an exciting first prep in the spring winning her maiden this track and then a CL1 in dominant fashion at home, and looked sharp in recent trial when allowed to stride.
Dangers: Wyong 6YO 2. Duck In Dubai hasn't started since May, but won a recent trial that included Le Romain, and three of his four career wins are first-up. Local mare 5. Typhoon Bonny was banging the door down around this trip and grade through spring, and should race just behind the speed; while another local 3. Better Not Fly has been close up in his first two runs back.
How to play it: Good Excuse to win and quinella 2 and 8.
|Race 7 F & M BM 74 HCP (1200m):|
Best race of the day. Love 5YO Scone mare 6. Valree first-up, despite wide draw. Progressed from a country win through to claiming a Rosehill Highway in the winter. Will settle back in the field, but comes to hand quickly and watch for a cracking final 400m. No trial, but doesn't need one!
Dangers: Local 1. Shelley Beach Road - yet another 5YO mare - was very consistent in strong company last prep, and always reacts fresh. Another 5YO mare Taree-based 2. Valbeata will be tough to beat from the low draw. Put a string of second placings together before stalking the speed to win a BM 66 last start, and this is spot-on again. Draws well and rider claims 3kg. Wyong mare 3. Penfold is another consistent performer who finished nicely to win a BM 66 at Tamworth last start; while 4. Dual Escape hasn't won for a long time, but has ability and draws well.
How to play it: Valree and Shelley Beach Road both to win and first four 1-6/1-2-3-4-6.
|Race 8 CL1 HCP (1200m):|
Open race to finish, but keen on Wyong mare 5. Grand Exit. Finally won her maiden at Taree last start from the front after flashing home at Wyong two back. Still progressing from a smart stable and this isn't a big step. Gets a lovely run in transit. The one to beat!
Dangers: Well-bred 3YO Newcastle filly 8. Sevini for proven trainer-rider combination looks a serious threat after winning her maiden third-up at Cessnock; while local colt 7. Acoustix was competitive in stronger company in his first prep and should be around the finish.
How to play it: Grand Exit to win.