By Neil Evans
Track Good 4 and rail out 5m from 1400m to winning post and True the remainder
|Race 1 2YO MAIDEN PLATE (1000m):|
The babies get us rolling in what looms as a three-horse battle. Like Canberra filly 10. Pepper Moon on debut off a controlled trial, and draws to get an economical run. She's by Snitzel stallion Skyclad who did have ability.
Dangers: Unplaced so far from three runs, 2. King Gutho has been freshened, and will appreciate dropping to this class and trip after a tidy effort in metro company nearly two months back; while keeping very safe Flying Artie filly 8. Flying Squad who debuts from a handy gate off a nice trial.
How to play it: Pepper Moon to win. Odds and Evens: Evens a special
|Race 2 MAIDEN PLATE (1600m):|
Out to the mile for the older maidens, and local four-year-old 6. Pillar Of Strength is ready to break through. Drove home late to miss by a neck last time over this trip, and right at peak fitness.
Dangers: Expect sharp improvement third-up from 5. Mark's Kingdom who wilted resuming off a long break before struggling in heavy ground. Back on a drier surface and fitter, he can have a big say. Include improving 2. Bordello who will find this a shade easier, and draws well; while home track filly 13. Queen Street Boss needs to find a bit more, but draws to get a nice run and sneaks a little further down in the weights.
How to play it: Pillar Of Strength to win. Odds and Evens: Split
Pillar Of Strength runs second at Wagga on January 19
|Race 3 CLASS 4 HCP (1200m):|
Feature Country C'ship Preview sets up well for talented local four-year-old 2. Blitzar who can rattle home. Came from a long way back resuming here in the BM 80 Scamper, and second-up form is strong.
Dangers: Progressive mare 3. Lady Brook has campaigned well in deeper grades across Melbourne, and in latest beat all bar the winner in a BM 70 at The Valley. Jockey change is significant, and will be right there from the draw; while Victorian four-year-old 5. Prince Of Helena has trialled well, and boasts a smart fresh record.
How to play it: Blitzar to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 4 OPEN HCP (1400m):|
Plenty of chances in this one, and tempo will be crucial. The last two closing efforts of Canberra six-year-old 3. Upper House in the Cowra and Bega Cups stack up well for this, especially getting back on firmer ground. Hard fit, and supremely placed this grade.
Dangers: The old boy 1. Spunlago hasn't won for a long time, but you can never rule him out over his pet trip, and did finish off well behind the top selection here six weeks ago. Include in wider exotics 5. Ruthless Agent who steps up sharply in trip; and well weighted last start BM 58 winner 8. Landmine who is trained on the track.
How to play it: Upper House to win. Odds and Evens: Split
Upper House runs sixth at Sapphire Coast on January 31
|Race 5 3YO & UP MAIDEN PLATE (1000m):|
Toughest and most open race of the day. Albury filly 13. Sweet Boom resumes after a solid one-off debut run behind a handy one last spring. Has by-passed the officials trials, but done plenty of work and drawn to strike.
Dangers: Wodonga mare 8. Picture Book hasn't had much luck of late, but she comes back in distance from a good draw, and blinkers replace winkers. Victorian four-year-old 2. Sunshine Moshe hasn't started since a handy debut last May. Another one from over the border, 1. Cheeky Chipmunk has shown gradual improvement in three runs this prep, and will enjoy the long straight here; while 3. Angry Liam can improve sharply at his second start back on top of the ground.
How to play it: Sweet Boom to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 6 MAIDEN HCP (1300m):|
Another wide open affair, although Albury three-year-old 1. Albert's Melody looks well over the odds after finding the line nicely on debut here, and he stays at the trip;
Dangers: Improving filly 7. Bhutan is much better suited here after working home okay against better opposition on debut. Keep safe 11. Sisseck resuming for a strong Canberra yard after contesting tougher races last prep. Watch the betting at big odds on 5. Conjon who has plenty of speed when right; while home track filly 15. Carnival Miss is the best of the rest fifth-up in her first prep.
How to play it: Albert's Melody each way and trifecta 1,7,11/1,5,7,11,15/1,5,7,11,15. Odds and Evens: Odds a special
|Race 7 BENCHMARK 66 HCP (1800m):|
Another Heat of the Stayers Series, and talented Albury four-year-old 4. Packer's Bond looks well placed third-up coming back from a metro BM 70 over the border, and potentially the best horse in the race. Won two straight in and around this trip last spring, and just needs to find some cover from the wide draw to be the one to beat.
Dangers: Progressive four-year-old 3. Invincible Dash has hit the line impressively in his last three, and if he gets a reasonable speed to chase from the half mile, will be getting home hard on this track. Wodonga-based 5. Dhiaga needs it dry, and drops 2kg after rattling home to win a lesser graded race fourth-up; while local mare 7. Mahsinger dropped in grade last start to break a frustrating run, and while she's drawn off the track, drops in weight and confidence should be back.
How to play it: Packer's Bond to win and trifecta 3,4/3,4,5,7/3,4,5,7. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 8 BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1000m):|
We close with a wide open sprint in a Heat of the Rising Star. Promising local filly 11. Our Baez can take the next step after sweeping home to win on debut here three weeks back despite drifting in betting. Drawn out, but races like this will be no disadvantage late in the day.
Dangers: Lightly raced filly 12. Nicci's Song stalked the speed, and careered away at third start in heavy ground, but not convinced the inside draw on the bigger track does her any favours. Honest three-year-old 2. Big Day Out can peak fourth-up in a suitable race, and has only missed a place four times in 13 starts. Ultra consistent mare 10. Sestina has opened this prep like she finished the last one, with consecutive second placings. Better form, though, is on rain-affected ground, and also has to overcome a wide barrier.
How to play it: Our Baez to win. Odds and Evens: Split