By Neil Evans
Track Good 4 and rail true so even for much of the day before a late trend away from the fence
|Race 1 MAIDEN PLATE (900m):|
Liked the trial of debutant 2YO local filly 14. Very Sharp (Bullpoint x Shamtastic by Shamardal) who sat off the speed and swept home nicely at Muswellbrook, and draws well for leading home track stable.
Dangers: Another first starter 11. Inferno Miss (Eurozone x Light My Fire by Myboycharlie) who has had two trials, and both trainer and rider know how to strike fresh; while another debutant 3YO Newcastle gelding 9. My Naughty Boy (Mulaazem x Blossom Dearest by Stratum) also looks up to the mark off a nice trial and good barrier. Sire was a Group 2 winner from only seven starts.
How to play it: Cery Sharp to win and box exacta 9,11,14. Odds and Evens (First 2): Split.
|Race 2 MAIDEN HCP (1100m):|
Another competitive battle for the maidens over a longer trip, and again debutants will have some say, although with even luck promising and beautifully bred 4YO local gelding 1. Free Rider is the one to beat at only his second start. Was heavily backed on debut when just took a little time to get through traffic before storming home to miss by a long neck. Carries the same weight from similar draw, although front bar plates have been applied.
Dangers: Newcastle 3YO colt 6. Spiritual Power promises to return for a second prep a stronger sprinter for top stable. Had two even trials, and draws to get a nice run. Stablemate 3YO gelding 5. Mbappe (Kuroshio x Mignard by Strategic) has been trialling in mixed fashion for nearly a year for the Lees Racing camp, and draws the inside for long-awaited debut. Despite a wide draw, expect a big first-up run from 3YO local gelding 10. Toro Toro who hasn't started for nearly seven months, but bolted in a lead-up trial.
How to play it: Free Rider to win. Odds and Evens: Split
Free Rider runs second at Scone on December 28
|Race 3 MAIDEN HCP (1350m):|
Still with the maidens, but up further in trip, and that augurs well for 4YO Newcastle mare 4. Lady Animalia at big odds first-up off an eight month break, but has had two suitable quieter trials over 1000m. Will naturally drift back, but on debut in a handy maiden at Muswellbrook sustained a long closing run to finish only 2.54 lengths from the winner.
Dangers: At his second start, home track 3YO gelding 1. Scatman is an obvious threat off a solid debut when he chased the speed at Muswellbrook, but will need some breaks up in weight from a wide barrier, and looks under the odds. Improving 4YO Wyong mare 8. Enchanted Princess is closing in on a maiden win at her 12th start finding the line in all three runs this prep, and has shown a real liking for the long Scone run home. Warwick Farm 3YO filly 7. If You Think So was swamped late at Bathurst in only her second start, and while she'll need to find a length of two here, stable is going great guns, and she draws the inside.
How to play it: Lady Animalia each way and trifecta 1,4,8/1,4,7,8/1,4,7,8. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 4 CLASS 3 HCP (1350m):|
Good strong open race, with plenty of chances. Newcastle 4YO gelding and staying type 5. Bedivere looks reasonably well placed at the weights first-up. Has had two trials, and won fresh over the mile last prep in dominant fashion.
Dangers: Plenty of them headed by progressive 3YO local filly 9. Know Where To Look sailed home in a Class 1 this track to make it two wins from her last three, and while this is a much tougher tes, she draws to get a cosy trail right behind the speed on the minimum weight. Consistent 4YO Muswellbrook gelding 7. Asudem is enjoying a good prep, and shooting for three wins from his last five. Has charged through the line in his last couple at this track, and draws the inside gate, but this is a step up in class. Tamworth 5YO gelding 6. Rattler defied his big price steaming home late first-up at home, and while this is a bit tougher, he draws well and second-up form is solid. Front-running 4YO local gelding 2. Partners has found it tough late in the piece after leading in all four runs this prep, and won't find it any easier here back up in weight and drawn wide, although trainer has made several key gear changes. Include 5YO home track mare 8. Peloso Lass in exotics after four runs this prep. Won a Class 1 at Dubbo three back before well outclassed in his last two at Highway level.
How to play it: Bedivere each way and first four 5,7,9/5,6,7,9/2,5,6,7,8,9/2,5,6,7,8,9. Odds and Evens: Odds
|Race 5 BM 66 HCP (1600m):|
Toughest race of the day over the mile, with a stack of hopes. Home track 4YO mare 12. Mo's Glory is right at her peak now, and draws to get a lovely trail. After three consecutive second placings, she finished hard to beat a Good Class 1 field at Taree over this trip, and more than ready for this tougher grade.
Dangers: Impressed with the progress of lightly raced 4YO local gelding 8. Boom Gate this prep. Charged home win a Class 1 at Mudgee two runs back before again working home late in a Highway at Randwick on Boxing Day. Wide draw won't hinder his pattern on this track, and should be powering into the finish. Mudgee 5YO gelding 7. Vineyard returns to the distance over which he has three of his four career wins. Has been freshened with a trial after an ordinary run at home in early December, and draws to get a nice trail just off the speed. Expect 6YO Wyong gelding 11. General Artie is hard fit well into her prep, and expect her to be working home over her pet distance.
How to play it: Mo's Glory to win and box trifecta 7,8,11,12. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 6 BM 58 HCP (1350m):|
Another very open contest, and early speed and positions will be vital. Progressive 3YO Newcastle filly 6. Predictable Miss returns for a second prep off a quiet trial for leading trainer/rider combination. Just missed on debut last winter before beating a good quality maiden field on this track. With early cover, she's the one to beat.
Dangers: Newcastle 4YO mare 2. Mummentum resumes off two quiet trials, but normally comes to hand quickly. Produced a big run on debut behind a real speedster last July before confirming her potential with a dominant second-up win. Was scratched from Taree on Monday, and just needs some cover from an awkward draw. Liked the way 3YO Scone filly 9. Love Me Quietly hit the line late resuming in a good quality BM 58 race run in record time, and gets out now to her right sort of trip. Local 4YO mare 4. Chambermaid has ability and was very consistent in her first prep storming home to win her maiden at Quirindi. Capable in this grade, but has to overcome a horror draw.
How to play it: Predictable Miss to win and box trifecta 2,4,6,9. Odds and Evens: Evens
|Race 7 CLASS 2 HCP (900m):|
Back to the short trip where we started, and again there'll be several lining up for the major prize headed by talented 3YO local filly 7. Tango Stepz who gets a pivotal 2kg claim, and can bounce back from Gunnedah a month ago where she was hampered early and pulled up with a slow recovery rate. Previously finished too well to land her maiden at Gosford when heavily backed, and loves the short course.
Dangers: Tamworth 4YO gelding 9. Hey Dude can go forward from a nice draw, and comes out of that same BM 58 at Gunnedah when swamped late under a big weight. Plenty of eyes on emerging 3YO filly and former Victorian 2. Talaaqy who won two straight races for the Hayes-Hayes-Dabernig stable to launch her first real prep before joining the Brett Cavanough yard; while 4YO Newcastle mare 12. Pearl Roan has early speed, and suited back to this trip after hanging on to beat the smart Free Rider who goes around earlier on the card.
How to play it: Tango Stepz to win. Odds and Evens: Split.
Tango Stepz's last start at Gunnedah on December 7