By Neil Evans
Showcase meeting on likely Good 4, with Rail true, so play fairly even
|Race 1 MAIDEN HCP (1200m):|
Open race to start, but 5YO Muswellbrook mare 5. Friendly Venture has kept improving right through this prep, and was close-up in a good maiden at Quirindi.
Dangers: A stack of them! Debutant 2YO Wyong filly 9. Inkjet (Denman x Yeahdad by Flying Spur) was pushed out through the line in a Newcastle trial, but looks forward enough. Market watch on local 3YO filly 4. Ryee Dee Oh (Wanted x Order Me by Elusive Quality) having her first start for leading stable, and wasn't let go in a recent home trial. Gosford 3YO gelding 2. Hercules Mo can improve again off two runs back this prep; Scone 3YO gelding 3. Izzat resumes in easier company off two progressive trials; while Inverell 3YO filly 6. Another Sheila closed off nicely second run back at Toowoomba, and draws to get a nice trail.
How to play it: Friendly Venture to win and first four 4-5-9/2-3-4-5-6-9.
|Race 2 MAIDEN PLATE (1400m):|
Progressive Scone 3YO gelding 2. Banff charged up to win last start at Dubbo, but just couldn't overhaul the winner. That was an ideal pointer for this and should be ready to break through at fourth career start.
Dangers: Gosford 4YO mare 10. Zandaya has had two runs back this prep, and draws to get a nice trail off the speed; while include Scone 2YO 11. Baker Street in exotics after a nice second-up run at Coonamble, with leading rider going on.
How to play it: Banff to win.
|Race 3 CL1 & MAIDEN PLATE (1600m):|
Patience and persistence can be rewarded with local 4YO gelding 1. Autumn Ridge who's been banging down the door all prep to win a second race. Finished hard in his last couple this grade, and has since trialled strong. Drawn to park midfield with cover, and pounce early in the straight.
Dangers: Wyong filly 13. Joigny has been close up in some decent form races and drops in weight. Blinkers go on, and was scratched from the wet track at Hawkesbury on Tuesday. Newcastle 3YO gelding 6. Opinions got into the right race this track last start to finally bolt in his maiden, and is down in weight and drawn to get a lovely run behind the speed, although more depth here. Rival local 5YO gelding 2. Sadler's Best is another who will naturally drift back and finish strong. Back in trip some concern, but should be enough tempo on up front for him to work into the finish. Promising local 3YO gelding 8. Whiteley flew home in a good quality CL3 at Scone before failing to finish off at Muswellbrook, and just needs cover from the wider barrier.
How to play it: Autumn Ridge each way; box exacta 1-6-13 and first four 1-6-13/1-2-6-8-13.
|Race 4 MAIDEN HCP (1000m):|
Consistent Dubbo 3YO gelding 1. What The Fuss has run three close seconds, and was heavily backed last start when only overhauled in the last few strides. Ready to win!
Dangers: Promising Muswellbrook 3YO gelding 3. Two Big Fari was solid in the market when chasing home the smart Zaniah on debut at Taree, and draws the inside. Taree 3YO filly 5. Peachies Dream has been in and around the placings all prep, and drops in weight, but will need some luck from a tricky draw.
How to play it: What The Fuss to win and quinella 1 and 3.
|Race 5 BM 66 HCP (1600m):|
Now for the older horses. Armidale 6YO gelding 1. New Endeavour won a weaker race two runs back this track beating The Frick who has since won, and is a proven weight carrier.
Dangers: Local 3YO filly 6. Hammoon Ballad has been threatening to win all prep. Outclassed in the Listed Gold Coast Bracelet two runs back before finishing off okay under a big weight at Quirindi; while Armidale 4YO 7. Falster has also been finding the line, and comes out of that same race at Quirindi behind The Outcast.
How to play it: New Endeavour to win.
|Race 6 CL3 HCP (1400m):|
Progressive Scone filly 12. True Finesse was a strong winner third-up at Taree before taken out late in a mishap at Dubbo. Drawn nice and looks supremely weighted here.
Dangers: Local 4YO gelding 5. Delete improved significantly to win this track and grade last start when well specked in the market, and drawn to get a cosy run just off the speed. Gosford 4YO gelding 2. Matakauri has improved lengths returning off a long break to win both starts, but more depth here, and weighted right to his best. Newcastle 4YO gelding 10. The Outcast has also improved big time to bolt in his last two at Muswellbrook and Quirindi, and still well in at the weights, although another one with a nasty barrier to overcome. Scone 3YO 3. Mick The Hat has early speed, and comes out of that same race close up behind Matakauri. Hard fit, but this is as far as he wants; while Armidale mare 9. Scarlet Missile has let punters down in her last two, although has plenty of ability and drops in weight, but drawn wide.
How to play it: True Finesse each way.
|Race 7 OPEN HCP (1200m):|
They could be spread across the track in this one too, but Scone 4YO gelding 4. Star Boy looks hard to beat for strong stable. Two runs back finished hard in a BM 70 at Warwick Farm before a dominant and well backed BM 85 win at Muswellbrook. This suits!
Dangers: Improving Mudgee 4YO and former Victorian 7. Beeokay was close-up in the Lightning at Gunnedah before sweeping home to win a BM 85 at Dubbo. Newcastle 6YO gelding 2. Royal Tudor can be hard to catch, but has finished off solidly against stronger company in his last two, and draws to get an economic run. Cessnock-based 7YO 5. Three Sheets has plenty of class and slowly returning to his best form. Much better suited here after finishing back in the pack against much stronger metro company in his last two. Scone 6YO and perennial country cups winner 3. Red Knot returns off a lengthy break, and did win a recent trial, although normally needs a run and wears bar plates for the first time.
How to play it: Star Boy to win and quinella 2 and 7.
Star Boy wins at Muswellbrook on June 16
|Race 8 BM 58 HCP (1000m):|
Wide open finish, but keen at the value on 5YO Scone gelding 1. Atum who won this grade two runs back, and then should have won again last start when thundering home from a mile back. Drawn to get the right trail midfield, and well in at the weights after rider's 4kg claim.
Dangers: Big watch on resuming Wyong mare 3. Grand Exit who was a smart BM 66 winner two runs back, and normally comes to hand quickly. Dubbo 6YO 7. Billy Bent Ear looks well placed from the draw, and with a 4kg allowance, after winning in stronger grade three runs back; while Scone gelding 11. Marokawa doesn't always live up to his ability, but has been freshened back in trip, and will be finishing on late.
How to play it: Atum each way.
Atum runs third at Wellington on June 6