By Ray Hickson
Tips and race by race preview by Ray Hickson for Sunday’s Country Championships meeting at Taree. Selections based on a soft track.
|Race 1 – 12:55PM THOMPSON MOTOR BODY BUILDERS HANDICAP (2000 METRES)|
1. Into The Oblivion doesn’t have a great strike rate but has the best form of late and handles a wet track okay. Made a late bid to just miss at Gosford last week and if he runs up to that he’s a chance to break through. Just a little bit short priced for his record.
Dangers: 6. Celabitofkandi is an improving mare who hit the line well here over a mile then rounded them up at Tamworth just in time over the same trip. Shapes as though the 2000m will suit, question mark on a wet track. 4. South Bend is proven on a heavy track and at the distance with three straight runs at 2000m plus. Another with a fair strike rate but an each-way chance. 5. Colonnade has been around the mark of late though a wet track is a concern for him.
How to play it: Into The Oblivion WIN ($1.80 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: SPLIT.
Into The Oblivion runs second at Gosford on February 15
|Race 2 - 1:35PM TIONEE SOCCER CLUB 40TH HANDICAP (1250 METRES)|
10. Rubick’s Magic is an interesting runner first-up for the new stable and with a very nice barrier trial under her belt. Went with Casino Mondial in a Taree heat a few weeks ago and while drawn wide she looks well placed on that in a winnable maiden.
Dangers: 3. Anamagic had her first run for the new stable and dropped from 2000m to 1100m when an even seventh at Port Macquarie. Extra ground will be in her favour and you’d expect her to improve. 8. Always Hot contested the same race as Anamagic and ran fifth as favourite, holding her ground without threatening a heap. Drawn nicely and wouldn’t discount her yet. 5. Rejected had his first run in this area and while a massive drifter held his ground to run fourth on a heavy track at Port Macquarie. Keep in mind.
How to play it: Rubick’s Magic E/W ($5.50 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: SPLIT.
Rubick’s Magic runs second in a Taree trial on January 31
|Race 3 – 2.10PM LOWES PETROLEUM SERVICE PLATE (1400 METRES)|
3. Sebago drew wide and settled well back before finding the line very well first-up at Port Macquarie off over a year’s break. Fitter and drawn perfectly here, bar plates off and up in trip. Plenty of positives, should run well.
Dangers: 1. Grand Anthem started favourite first-up at Ballina and ran on well without threatening at 1000m. Tough alley for him here but much better suited it seems up in trip and well worth including in everything. 7. Lage is yet to run a place in eight starts but she hasn’t been far off it of late. Held on well at Port Macquarie running foruth then filled the same spot at Grafton after leading. Each-way claims. 13. The Timewarp is a 17 start maiden but has been around the mark of late, placed here three starts back and ran on well beaten two lengths at this track again three weeks ago. Has a show.
How to play it: Sebago WIN ($2.90 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: ODDS.
Sebago runs fourth at Port Macquarie on January 24
|Race 4 – 2.45PM WINGHAM PIZZA AND PASTA HANDICAP (1600 METRES)|
13. Ocean Nymph is a double figure price but has found an open race and comes into this third-up. Very handy fresh run then just even last time in a decent BM58. Looking for the extra trip and wouldn’t shock if she runs a big race at odds.
Dangers: 1. Justice Honour seems to like a wet track and will find this easier than last start at Newcastle where he was only beaten a couple of lengths. Blinkers back on, can mix form but gets a good chance to show up. 4. Scatter Blast ran well in a Class 3 three runs back and won in the last stride at Tamworth. Just a fair effort at Scone in his latest but does tend to like a wet track so can’t be overlooked. 2. Opinions was a Wyong winner over this trip three runs back and battled on fairly well in a stronger race than this at Gosford a month ago. Has a genuine chance.
How to play it: Ocean Nymph E/W ($9.00 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: ODDS.
Ocean Nymph’s last start at Coffs Harbour on January 12
|Race 5 – 3.25PM MANNING FREIGHT DISTRIBUTION HANDICAP (1000 METRES)|
8. Bill ‘N’ Ted did more than enough first-up at Taree, despite being a beaten favourite, under 62kg to think he will improve with the run and the lighter weight. A soft track is okay and he rarely runs a bad race. Hard to beat.
Dangers:5. Evil Cry gets a 5kg weight drop on his win at Port Macquarie back in October. Interesting runner here off that break, was okay in soft and heavy ground in stronger company before switching stables and has to be respected. 9. Fair Dinkum was placed in a Highway on a soft 7 back in September. Fitter for two runs back and overlook his latest as his fresh run was solid. 15. Good Excuse is probably better over 1400m or so but on a wet track could be dangerous fresh. Is a heavy track winner and on his home track.
How to play it: Bill ‘N’ Ted WIN ($4.40 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: SPLIT.
Bill ‘N’ Ted runs third at Taree on January 31
|Race 6 - 4:05PM MAVIN TRUCK CENTRE HANDICAP (1000 METRES)|
5. Miss Fox looks a promising type and only has to handle the soft conditions to be the horse to beat. Dominant first-up in a maiden at Taree at a very short price. Class rise is modest and she has the upside.
Dangers: 4. In A Step hasn’t raced since August when missing a place for the first time at Coffs Harbour. No trials but she’s shown plenty of ability and is entitled to another chance fresh. 10. Gold Bracelet gets the blinkers on first time and won on a heavy track at Taree on debut so commands some respect on that. In the market when disappointed at Newcastle but worth another look. 6. Monica’s Star is another lightly raced filly who resumes off an impressive win at Port Macquarie in October. No public trials but trained here and is one of the chances.
How to play it: Miss Fox WIN ($1.90 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: SPLIT.
Miss Fox wins at Taree on January 31
|Race 7 - 4:45PM MNCRA COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS QUALIFIER (1400 METRES)|
3. The Drake is a talented type who beat a good field at Coffs Harbour a month ago and on that has to be a big show. Only failure was at Eagle Farm at 1000m so overlooking that. Drawn okay and should be very competitive in a tough race.
Dangers: 13. Bellastar was a dominant winner of the Queen Of The North, a race which produced a finalist through this race last year. She was very strong there so 1400m won’t be a worry and a soft track gives her a big show. Heavy might be a worry. 2. Casino Mondial is first-up since late November running third at Port Macquarie in open company. Wet no issue, his recent trial win was strong and should be in this for a long way. 4. Gumshoe led all the way at Gosford last week, handles a wet track and just has to run out the 1400m to be a big chance. Draw gives him that chance. Definite threat.
How to play it: The Drake E/W ($7.50 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: ODDS.
READ comments from the trainer of every runner in the MNCRA Qualifier here.
The Drake wins at Coffs Harbour on January 12
|Race 8 - 5:25PM WINGHAM ACCOUNTING SERVICES HANDICAP (1300 METRES)|
7. Enchanted Heart is working up to a win and has found a good race to achieve that. Sound at Gosford then ran on well at Newcastle in a handy field. Yet to see worse than soft 5 but into her preferred distance range now and is a top chance.
Dangers: 14. Eurogem bolted in at Port Macquarie two runs back then beaten favourite there a month ago though not disgraced. Barrier one a plus and if she handles the going she’s right in this. 8. Hubble has won just one from 20 but is around the mark lately so has an each-way chance. Ran on well for third at Tamworth last time and handles a soft okay. 10. Oh So Hot has the blinkers on first time and is trained here. Disappointed last start but previous form sound enough.
How to play it: Enchanted Heart WIN ($2.10 TAB Fixed Odds); Odds & Evens: SPLIT.
Enchanted Heart runs third at Newcastle on February 8