By Neil Evans
Track Good 4 and rail out 2m with the possibility of late showers for Showcase meeting
|Race 1 MAIDEN HCP (1600m):|
A strong and open line-up for the first meeting here since late September. Progressive Wyong mare 7. Lasting Grace is ready to strike fourth-up from a soft trailing draw. She was a month between runs hitting the line hard at Muswellbrook carrying 1kg more, and quicker back-up here on firm ground are key plusses.
Dangers: Lightly raced filly 5. Endorphins can go close second-up after driving through the middle at Taree to miss by a whisker. First time on dry ground and draws the inside, but may need one more run before peaking. Consistent Scone four-year-old 2. Capital Venture has been running on okay under big weights all prep, and searching now for this distance.
How to play it: Lasting Grace to win. Odds and Evens: Odds
Lasting Grace runs second at Muswellbrook on January 7
|Race 2 MAIDEN PLATE (1200m):|
Back in trip at set weights, augurs well for resuming local three-year-old 4. Hurn Court who draws the inside barrier, while most of his rivals are out wider. Showed plenty in his first prep here despite having little luck at times, and has trialled well.
Dangers: Talented Scone mare 9. Mother's Day has the task of getting in from a very wide gate, but she can produce a peak run third-up and down in weight. Possesses a big final 400m, and blinkers have been added. Got plenty of time for resuming mare 6. Don'tforgetmonica who is also drawn out, but has had two trials, and likely to come to hand quickly.
How to play it: Hurn Court to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 3 MAIDEN PLATE (1400m):|
Similar race conditions over a bit further, and there are plenty of chances. Scone four-year-old 4. Unrestricted can break through here third-up from a much better draw after working to the lead and holding on okay at Gilgandra. Likely to park right behind the speed.
Dangers: Improving mare 9. Surf should get her chance from the inside draw after thundering home to miss by a head at Gunnedah. This is a little tougher, but couldn't be fitter after four runs this prep. Include in exotics consistent mare 10. Tariff Trump who has been close-up in her last three.
How to play it: Unrestricted to win and quinella 4 and 9. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 4 BENCHMARK 66 HCP (1600m):|
Always competitive and tough a battle over the mile here. Patience is running thin with four-year-old 5. Misterzee, but the step up to this distance can prove the key. Placed all four runs this prep getting home late, and should appreciate being back on a firm surface for the first time in two months.
Dangers: Improving four-year-old 4. Brother Bassy is a big threat after working home in heavy ground at Muswellbrook. That was five weeks between runs, and drawn to get a soft run on the inside with blinkers added, he should get his chance. Progressive mare 2. Miss Scalini thrived on the bog track at Port leading all the way, and is building a smart record with a 25 percent win rate. Will find this tougher back on firm going, but carries the same weight after the jockey's claim.
How to play it: Misterzee to win and box exacta 2,4,5. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 5 CLASS 1 HCP (1200m):|
Good deep and open race for this class. Promising three-year-old 4. Greenheart steps up sharply in trip after a dominant maiden win at Muswellbrook in only his third start. Has already shown a versatility to be ridden either on speed or from well off the pace, and he looks destined for much bigger prizes.
Dangers: Lightly raced and improving four-year-old 6. Pure Fuego has been given nearly seven weeks since finishing on from a mile back first-up at Mudgee. Has won a recent trial in heavy ground, and also won his only previous start here in smart fashion last autumn. Keep safe consistent five-year-old 1. Aytobe after four solid runs back; and improving three-year-old 13. Nicator who won his maiden first-up at Orange, and gets blinkers on. Watch the betting on resuming 2. Kinship who has trialled okay, draws to get a nice trail, and only career win came first-up last time.
How to play it: Greenheart each way and trifecta 4,6/1,2,4,6,13/1,2,4,6,13. Odds and Evens: Evens
|Race 6 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1400m):|
Very tricky race. Talented home track four-year-old 2. Manseneta resumes off two quiet trials for his first run in more than six months. Proved in last prep he races well on the fresh side, storming home to just miss before bolting in his maiden by nearly five lengths second-up. Gets key gear changes, and while likely will drift back from the wide barrier, can run over the top of them.
Dangers: Stablemate 1. Jahbath is value after a two month freshen-up and back in trip. Draws the inside with a claim, and hell be hitting the line hard with a clear run from the turn. Promising four-year-old 4. Frontline didn't back up at Muswellbrook behind a smart one after a terrific debut win in heavy ground at Scone thundering home. Trusting he'll hit back, despite a wide draw, with winkers added. Lightly raced ex-Victorian five-year-old 10. Bumrah went close resuming off a long break in weaker company, and extra journey suits; while improving colt 5. Timerox resumed off a six-week break with a powerful win in slightly weaker grade, but goes up sharply in weight.
How to play it: Manseneta to win and trifecta 1,2,4/1,2,4,5,10/1,2,4,5,10. Odds and Evens: Evens
|Race 7 GOLDEN GUITAR CUP OPEN HCP (1200m):|
Feature race of the day. Smart Scone four-year-old 8. Eiger is well placed resuming over this distance. Won two straight, including a Highway, last winter over further, and boasts a solid fresh record. Loves to get to the outside and finish off, so his draw out past the middle is a big key, especially carrying only half kilo over the minimum weight.
Dangers: Honest seven-year-old 4. All From Scrap hasn't won for a while, but has a handy record this distance and course, and draws to get a charmed run. Keep safe five-year-old 10. Morpheus who has been freshened up after running home well in the Mudgee Sprint.
How to play it: Eiger to win. Odds and Evens: Split
Eiger wins a Highway at Rosehill in July
|Race 8 CLASS 3 HCP (1000m):|
We close a terrific card, with one of the more open sprints. Progressive Scone five-year-old 8. Expellable is ready to win third-up and back on firmer footing. Charged home late in a good quality CL2, and drops 2.5kg from that run.
Dangers: Smart local 1. Depth That Varies returns from an impressive spring campaign in Highway company. Has a tough draw to overcome, but generally fires fresh. Progressive filly 12. The Neon Knight has never raced better, bolting in his last couple, but will need all that early tactical speed to negate a very wide draw. Capable mare 6. Bit Of A Beauty is better off back to this distance after fading in a stronger Highway on Boxing Day; while keep safe home mare 3. Cassy's Sister who resumes from a nice draw, and has a solid first-up record.
How to play it: Expellable to win and box trifecta 1,6,8,12. Odds and Evens: Evens