By Ray Hickson
Tips and race by race preview by Ray Hickson for Sunday’s Country Championships meeting at Port Macquarie. Selections based on a good track.
|Race 1 – 12:40PM DE BORTOLI WINES HANDICAP (1200 METRES)|
2. Gus Lightning did enough first-up to say he’s close to a win with a bit of upside. Not beaten far and was strong enough on the line so another 100m won’t trouble. Can race handy and this is a good chance for him to break through.
Dangers: 1. Don’t Judge Me was a drifter in betting when resuming at Newcastle but he worked to the line from worse than midfield for a handy second. Rarely too far away and is one of the main hopes. 5. Niatross was no match for the winner here when resuming and really only battled away into fourth. He’s entitled to improve on that and if he does then he’s in the mix but he may be unders on what he showed last time. 6. Feelin’ Alright showed the first sign of some form running on from last at big odds in the same race as Don’t Judge Me. If he’s heading the right way now he’s an upset chance.
How to play it: Gus Lightning E/W ($4.00 TAB Fixed Odds).
Gus Lightning runs third at Port Macquarie on February 1
|Race 2 - 1:20PM PRIME7 HANDICAP (1200 METRES)|
13. Tears He Cried appeals as an each-way hope at odds. Ignore his last run where she had to work hard to lead and was gone on the turn. Chased home a handy one two starts back, drawn to get a nice run and while she’s had a few chances she’s a good chance.
Dangers: 2. Silver Frost commands some respect on debut for the Lees stable on the back of two trials. Close up in the latest of those though ridden a bit. Check betting for a pointer. 4. Vivre La Vie had a couple of months off before hitting the line well enough beaten a length over 10006m here. Fitter, blinkers off an up in distance. Well worth including. 3. Campari Soda wasn't beaten far at her first run for the new stable and should be fitter. Has a show.
How to play it: Tears He Cried E/W ($10 TAB Fixed Odds).
Tears He Cried runs second at Taree on January 2
|Race 3 – 1.55PM PANTHERS PORT MACQUARIE HANDICAP (1800 METRES)|
3. Boncosta looked super winning easily at Coffs Harbour two starts back then jumped several grades and battled away okay at Ballina. A lot better suited in this class, drawn to be in a striking position and is sure to take beating.
Dangers: 5. Victory In Paris came with a well timed run out wide to break through at this track two weeks ago and the form has held up okay with the runner-up winning since. Should handle the trip, good chance. 2. Call The Captain was no match for Boncosta two runs back, probably not up to it last time at the Gold Coast. Will go forward and probably lead, can give a sight. 1. Uncle Sugar is an honest type and will have issue with the trip. Placed in the Cowra Cup then even effort at Newcastle in a good form race. Can’t be left out.
How to play it: Boncosta WIN ($3.70 TAB Fixed Odds).
Boncosta wins easily at Coffs Harbour on January 13
|Race 4 – 2.30PM TAB.COM.AU PLATE (1500 METRES)|
4. Pinnacle Power is a 21 start maiden but another who is knocking on the door and just needs things to go his way. Got too far back at Grafton then led off a wide gate and was run down last week. No excuses here and has another shot.
Dangers: 11. Zubrowka is a big market watch on race day. Good debut effort then wheels fell off in two subsequent starts. Quiet trial against open company is hard to mark as he was beaten a fair way but not tested. Keep safe. 9. Senatorial was $151 at Canterbury two weeks ago and while never a winning chance he charged late to be beaten less than two lengths. Easier here and drawn the inside. Wouldn’t shock to see him feature. 3. Nic And Run is another that has had a fair few shots at breaking through but he's racing well without winning. Placed over this course last time out and is in the mix.
How to play it: Pinnacle Power E/W ($4.80 TAB Fixed Odds).
Pinnacle Power's last start second at Taree on February 10
|Race 5 – 3.05PM MCGUIGAN BMW HANDICAP (1500 METRES)|
10. Splash Of Lime is in super form this time in and was placed in a strong Class 3 here before a closing third at Cessnock. No harder than what she's been tackling of late and she shouldn’t be far away.
Dangers: 3. Sarasota Bay is up in distance now and that should suit her. Rounded them up to win here at 1200m then even effort up in class with only an extra 100m. Well worth including. 5. Twelfth Raj was far too good at Tuncurry in a similar race then handy enough effort over this course two weeks ago. Racing well and with any luck can be in the finish of a wide open race. 8. Harry And The Duke ran fourth after leading at Cessnock in the same race as Splash Of Lime. Winner there prior to that and his form has been honest. Sure to give a good account.
How to play it: Splash Of Lime E/W ($4.80 TAB Fixed Odds).
Splash Of Lime runs third at Cessnock on February 4
|Race 6 - 3:45PM SCHWEPPES PLATE (1100 METRES)|
10. Gumshoe is a little on the short side and has drawn wide but he still has to go on top. Belted maiden company two starts back then led and run down on a week’s back up. Has the speed to overcome the gate and drops sharply in weight. Clearly the horse to beat.
Dangers: 14. Zouki is an up and comer and while she’s straight up in class off a maiden win it was a dominant victory at Grafton. Can see her getting a nice run and if she can repeat the effort the class rise shouldn’t be an issue. Go well. 8. Shoreditch didn’t go on with it after a handy first-up effort last time in so that prep can be overlooked. Form prior was promising and he did win a maiden in good style here a year ago. Will get back but no surprise to see him feature in the placings. 5. Je Suis Tycoon raced consistently at this sort of level last time in and while drawn wide she’s well worth including. Trialled against some Country Championships horses and while not up to them will be fitter for it. Has a show.
How to play it: Gumshoe WIN ($1.80 TAB Fixed Odds).
Gumshoe’s last start third at Port Macquarie on February 1
|Race 7 - 4:30PM MNCRA COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS QUALIFIER (1200 METRES)|
Class, weights, measures, barrier, form all points to 2. Awesome Pluck going one better than last year in the Qualifier. He’s a lot more experienced and coming off two impressive wins in Brisbane, and the form has held up, and fitted with an easy trial. Impossible to tip against him. Read Jenny Graham’s comments here.
Dangers: 10. Texas Storm hit the line late at Taree last time into the minor placing and while coming back 100m probably doesn’t suit he’s a sneaky chance. Bumped into a handy one at Gosford three back and overlook his Highway defeat. Could surprise. 12. Lucciola Belle ran well in a Highway three starts back and broke through for an overdue win over this course last month. Always promised a bit and from a perfect draw gets her chance to feature. 5. Mister Smartee blew the start but still worked home out wide late just behind the placings first-up from a break. If he jumps with them the inside alley suits him and he could take holding out.
How to play it: Awesome Pluck WIN ($1.55 TAB Fixed Odds).
Awesome Pluck runs third in a Taree trial on February 10
Read comments from the trainer or jockey of all runners in the Qualifier here.
|Race 8 - 5:10PM GREAT NORTHERN SUPER CRISP HANDICAP (1200 METRES)|
5. No Qualm had a hard run three wide on the pace and still proved far too good over the same course first-up and while up in weight this is easier and he’s drawn to get a kinder run. Can only be fitter and he could easily repeat the dose at the each-way odds.
Dangers: 2. Monaco Sniper was on the speed in the same race as No Qualm and under pressure a long way out. He responded but was no match for that horse. Lightly raced and 3kg better off at the weights and is the logical danger. 6. Neretva was unwanted in the betting but couldn’t have been more impressive in winning a Class 1 over this course off a six week break. Probably gets back again and sure to be running on strongly. 7. Belle Xaar is an ex-Victorian with Kris Lees and deserves some attention, particularly if there’s support. Two trials have been inconclusive so be guided by the market but she’s shown enough in Victoria to keep her safe.
How to play it: No Qualm E/W ($18 TAB Fixed Odds).
No Qualm wins first-up at Port Macquarie on February 1