By Neil Evans
Track likely Soft 5 and rail out 3m so fairly even early before gradual trend away from the fence
|Race 1 BM 66 HCP (1600m):|
Good competitive opener over the mile. Promising local filly 2. Love Me Quietly was brilliant from well off the speed in the heavy at Dubbo making it two straight, and she's the one to beat despite a 3kg rise in weight.
Dangers: Good quality Newcastle mare 5. Star Alibi has been disappointing in three runs this prep, getting back and not attacking the line, but trainer has added the blinkers, and this track suits her natural finishing pattern. Newcastle mare 4. Delchuzy defied a betting drift careering away to win a Class 3 at Tamworth, and she draws to push forward and land a prominent position again, although weighted to her best up to 58.5kg.
How to play it: Love Me Quietly to win and quinella 2 and 5. Odds and Evens (First 2): Split
|Race 2 MAIDEN HCP (1600m):|
Still at the mile, but moderate and tricky affair for the maidens. Newcastle 3YO gelding 3. Ski Missile worked home okay first-up in the heavy at home, and can improve again getting to this trip on a big sweeping track he can relish.
Dangers: Home track gelding 4. Ocean Villa hasn't run a place yet from five starts, but fourth-up here over more ground with the blinkers going on, gets his chance to make a mark for underrated stable. Be surprised if anything else wins, but wouldn't dismiss 3YO Wyong filly 12. Pop's Glory at huge odds despite being well beaten in all four runs this prep. Draws the inside, with top country rider aboard, and closing effort this track two runs back had some merit.
How to play it: Ski Missile to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 3 MAIDEN PLATE (1300m):|
The maidens again get stuck into it at set weights, and this looks ideal for 3YO Newcastle filly 13. Surf (Hallowed Crown x Tide by Galileo) who debuts off two sounds trials with the "Queen of Hoops" in the saddle, and dual Group 1-winning sire was near untouchable on rain-affected ground.
Dangers: In just her first prep, local 3YO filly 10. Elphame can break through fourth start at big odds with the blinkers coming off. Boxed on strong in a handy maiden at Dubbo over this trip. Hawkesbury 3YO gelding 6. Tri Nations looks suited resuming off a controlled trial at Wyong after showing promise in some handy maidens last spring. Trainer has rung the gear changes, including winkers first time. Big market watch on local 3YO gelding 1. Fanmalia who debuts off a sound trial for leading stable, with the winkers on.
How to play it: Surf each way and trifecta 6,10,13/1,6,10,13/1,6,10,13. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 4 MAIDEN HCP (1100m):|
One of the tougher races of the day over the sprint course, with some promising 3YOs on debut. One of them, local gelding 5. Step On Fire (Sidestep x Are You Ready by Strategic) from the Cameron Crockett stable looked very forward winning the second of two trials, and bred to handle soft ground.
Dangers: Newcastle filly 8. Are Zhu Ready is a serious threat first-up off a nice 1000m trial at Wyong run in decent time. Showed enough last spring to suggest she'll be right in the finish here. Newcastle gelding and first starter 4. Horsenado (Toronado x Spring Falls by Giant's Causeway) has had two trials for leading yard, and draws to get a nice run with cover. The X factor is 7YO Newcastle gelding 1. Birkdale who has only had one run in more than three years, and that was last May hitting the line hard behind a handy one at Pt Macquarie before forced into the paddock again. Has placed seven times from 14 drawn-out starts, and did win a recent trial; while another handy trial performer and debutant from Newcastle 3. Excelsa (Eurozone/Princess Tyla by Royal Academy) is best of the rest.
How to play it: Step On Fire to win and trifecta 4,5,8/1,3,4,5,8/1,3,4,5,8. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 5 CLASS 2 HCP (1400m):|
Another tricky and open battle. Capable 4YO Wyong gelding 5. Hubble should have nearly won last start at Pt Macquarie making up a tonne of ground in the heavy, and drops 3.5kg from that. Two runs back got going late at Taree behind smart Enchanted Heart who has since bolted in a CL3 at Dubbo. Hard fit and out to the perfect trip, only has to overcome another wide draw.
Dangers: Improving 5YO gelding 2. Katgully Red from one of the emerging local stables also needs to find cover from an awkward gate to surge into the finish. Hit the line hard to just miss in a good class maiden here two runs back before again strong late in a CL2 at Mudgee. Loves the big long straights. Warwick Farm 3YO 4. Deterge bolted in a weak maiden at Queanbeyan two runs back before swamped after leading in a deep CL1 at Hawkesbury, but not in well at the weights considering his modest record. Include local 4YO mare 11. Aubrey Skies who has been fair to the line in her last couple, and draws to get a nice run off the speed.
How to play it: Hubble to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 6 BM 58 HCP (1100m):|
Open field again for the restricted sprinters, with several resuming. Gosford 4YO gelding 2. Bill 'N' Ted has done punters no favours in two runs back, although hit the line well both times. Switching to a much bigger and more suitable track third-up means getting off him now could be a serious financial mistake.
Dangers: Talented home track 3YO gelding 10. Toro Toro returns off a two month break after holding off high class Free Rider here over the same distance. Trialled well at Muswellbrook, and will be in this for a long way. Promising 3YO Newcastle filly 13. Solvency swept home to easily win on debut at Tamworth when heavily backed, although this is considerably tougher, and drawn off the track. Lightly raced 4YO local gelding 8. Banff resumes off a near nine month break without a public trial, but draws well for a stable who knows how to produce them fresh; while include 3YO Newcastle gelding 11. War Cat in wider exotics after a narrow and upset win on debut at Pt Macquarie.
How to play it: Bill 'N' Ted to win. Odds and Evens: Split
Bill 'N' Ted runs fifth at Taree on February 23
|Race 7 CLASS 1 HCP (900m):|
No time to rest here as we finish on the short course dash, and smart 3YO local filly 2. Tango Stepz looms as the best bet all day after charging home in a Highway at Randwick. Beat all bar talented Pearl Roan over this trip here three runs back, and gets in okay at the weights after Tom Sherry's claim from a sweet draw.
Dangers: Consistent 3YO Gulgong filly 5. All Hollywood is the main threat resuming from a soft draw off a forward trial. Was a dominant maiden win at Dubbo in spring, and scratched from Coonamble on Sunday. Drawn to the immediate inside of the top two, home track 5YO 6. Gold Codes can take the next step after careering away to win his maiden this track under a big weight.
How to play it: Tango Stepz to win and box exacta 2,5,6. Odds and Evens: Split.
Tango Stepz runs third at Randwick on February 29