By Ray Hickson
Tips and race by race preview by Ray Hickson for Sunday’s Country Championships meeting at Wagga. The track is rated a Good 4 and the rail is in the true position.
|Race 1 – 1:00PM O’BRIEN REMOVALS & STORAGE PLATE (1000 METRES)|
The betting is going to tell us a lot about the favourite 10. Sei Stella from the Matthew Dale stable. She opened short enough, which says the TAB is wary and rightly so after her easy trial win back in October. The runner-up in that trial won on debut after that and recently ran fourth in the Lightning Ridge Plate at Canberra. There must have been a little issue to prevent her starting until now and no public trials since. On what we saw in the trial, though, she’s the one to beat.
Danger: 4. Flight Commander from the Nick Olive stable had his only trial much more recently, on February 23, and it was a narrow defeat but you get the impression he could have won the gallop. Another stable that commands respect and he should run well. 9. All Talk looked a bit over the odds at $26 with TAB given I liked her trial at Canberra a month ago where she was beaten in a close finish. Drawn one here and could be worth something each-way. 12. Toffey Miss has the race experience from quite a handy debut at Wagga back on February 9. She took a while to wind up there but with that under the belt she could be an improver. A couple of other first-uppers worth watching betting wise are 5. Pompous, who was hard in the market on debut under Paul Messara back in September, and 10. Boombox Babe who was strangled to miss a place in her only trial a month ago..
How to play it: Sei Stella WIN ($1.80 TAB Fixed Odds).
Sei Stella’s impressive barrier trial win at Canberra back in October.
|Race 2 - 1:40PM PRICE PLUMBING SPECIALISTS HANDICAP (1400 METRES)|
The market suggests there are only four chances and I think they’re spot on. Playing the percentages a bit with 3. Little Naive who should push forward onto the speed somewhere and offset the wide gate fairly quickly. Fair to say she had no luck at all at Canberra last start, the stewards reported she reared and fell backwards in the enclosure, once passed fit she was held up from a run at a vital stage in the straight and charged home once clear. Due for a bit of good fortune and good chance if she gets it here.
Dangers: 11. Leica Bita Magic is a 17 start maiden largely due to the fact he is a bit of a one dimensional back marker. Five weeks between runs going into Albury a few weeks back and he attacked the line with plenty of purpose but gave away too much start. Relies on the race panning out for him but if it does he’ll go close. 4. Fila Freckle will be up on the pace from a good gate and he broke into the placings for the first time here on February 22. No match for the winner but did fight hard when headed by the eventual third placegetter. Sure to have every chance. 12. Mateship is a 31 start maiden and also tends to get back but his two runs back have been solid enough for placing at the Sapphire Coast and a late closing fifth at Nowra. Hard to be confident with him but an each-way chance.
How to play it: Little Naïve WIN ($2.90 TAB Fixed Odds).
Little Naïve finishes well after being held up at Canberra on February 23.
|Race 3 – 2:15PM TARCOOLA TURF COUNTRY PLATE (1200 METRES)|
This looks to be a decent quality maiden with a few horses on the way up clashing. 10. Star Of Serena was the real eye-catcher when she resumed over the 1000m at Wagga a month ago. She found herself well back in the field and was only getting warm as the post loomed beaten just over a length. A tricky gate might see her go back again but there should be a little bit of tempo at least here and she’ll be storming again.
Dangers: 6. Waiting For A Mate reacted to being ridden forward at Albury last time and he gave a very big sight despite being unwanted in betting. The run was more in keeping with his solid debut and I’d expect him to go forward again and if he lands handy without too much work he should be hard to beat. 7. Edge Of Manhattan is honest if she’s nothing else and she racked up her 10th second placing at Wagga on February 22 and her fifth in succession. Might have bumped into a couple of nice ones but the same could be said about her last couple so she’s an each-way chance again. 12. Amelda is a bit under the odds for mine even considering her improved showing when second at Goulburn last week. Has the inside gate so will get every chance but, other than being trained by Danny Williams, there’s nothing else in her form that suggests she should be favourite.
How to play it: Star Of Serena E/W ($4.60 TAB Fixed Odds).
Watch for Star Of Serena’s big finish when third at Wagga on February 9
|Race 4 – 2.5P0M CASTLE LANE CATERING PLATE (1600 METRES)|
I think the wide barrier is giving us a much better price about 1. Arthur Porrit who absolutely cantered in at Wagga a couple of weeks ago in a 1300m maiden. This is a Class 1 and Maiden event and the mile won’t pose any issues, he has excellent gate speed and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get across as he did last time. I can’t make a case for more than a few in this event and he is clearly the horse to beat for mine.
Dangers: 14. Nothin’ Like Harry was installed favourite for this race on the strength of his debut second over the mile at Albury on February 16. He’s opened $2.40! It was a very good effort but he looks a big long striding type with not a huge turn of foot and he jumps from an inside alley. Respecting him but unders. 15. Rocky High is a lightly raced three-year-old and is a likely improver on his first-up effort at Albury where he held his ground and while beaten five lengths the first two home cleared out. Wasn’t far off Arthur Porrit at 1400m before a break so well worth keeping in mind. 13. Tycoon Dreaming was a safely held third in the same race as Nothin’ Like Harry for his third consecutive placing. I couldn’t see him turning the tables but is honest enough to be included in the multples.
How to play it: Arthur Porrit WIN ($4.60 TAB Fixed Odds).
Arthur Porrit’s easy maiden win at Wagga on February 22
|Race 5 - 3:25PM HARTWIGS 2018 WAGGA WHIRLWIND (1000 METRES)|
Not a huge degree of confidence in this race and I think it’s a safe each-way play on 8. Levee Bank first-up from a spell. She hasn’t raced since November when a fast finishing third on the Riverside track over 1050m and she will rely on a genuine tempo to bring her into contention. That should eventuate with some speed drawn wid. Honest and goes well fresh, good chance without getting carried away.
Dangers: 3. Termele is a big market watch for mine. First three runs last prep were excellent then she went off the boil and flopped badly twice before a spell. Generally an on-pacer and drawn perfectly to allow her to lead or get a nice sit just off the pace. Go well. 2. Just A Bullet has had one run since winning the Flat Knacker back in March last year and it was a strong BM95 at Warwick Farm won by Fickle Folly. He led them and knocked right up. Fitter and this is much easier so don’t be surprised if he’s harder to run down. 5. Wonderbolt has been thereabouts without winning and is one to throw in.
How to play it: Levee Bank E/W ($5.00 TAB Fixed Odds).
Levee Bank’s last start third at Wagga back in November
|Race 6 - 4:00PM TOM PATTON SHOWCASE CUP (1800 METRES)|
With City Of Kirkwall racing at Flemington on Saturday this race has really opened up. 6. Go Get ‘Em is racing very well of late and found himself way too far back when beaten just over a length in the prelude to this race two weeks ago. Wound up strongly when the race was all over and if he gets the breaks from the inside alley he’s a threat.
Dangers: 7. Illyrian always flys under the radar, won the Cowra Cup at double figure odds then a close third in the Bathurst Cup. The runner-up from that race has since won and she has form around City Of Kirkwall four starts back. Each-way claims. 2. American Time hit the front a fair way from home here last time out and scrambled in. Has drawn a favourable gate, as opposed to the outside last time, and can’t be left out of the main chances. I'm sure 4. Salesman is a better horse than his failure in the Goulburn Qualifier over an unsuitable trip. His last win was an easy one over a mile at Goulburn and he's not the worst.
How to play it: Go Get ‘Em E/W ($4.60 TAB Fixed Odds).
Go Get 'Em hits the line hard at Wagga on February 22
|Race 7 - 4:40PM SDRA COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS QUALIFIER (1400 METRES)|
I’ve found this one to be the toughest of the Qualifiers to work out pre-race. There looks to be a decent amount of competition up front here and that may allow a run on horse to take it out. With that in mind 16. Chastity Strikes is a very good each-way chance. She’s at a peak now after three runs back and attacked the line from well back over 1200m two weeks ago at this track. She’s only been in this distance range twice and missed a place both times but they were at Cessnock under Kris Lees. She’s looking much more like a 1400m horse and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Dangers: 17. Delivered got the scratching he needed to get into the race and he’s a winning chance too. Liked the way he finished off fresh over 1300m and he does have a second to Don’t Give A Damn in a 1500m Highway (though safely held) against his name. Can be competitive. 12. O’ So Hazy is probably the best horse in the race and she may well win but I do have a question mark at a strong 1400m. She’s a noted on pacer and while they did go hard at Canterbury last time she was all out at the 200m and stuck on bravely to run third. If she gets a nice run up on the speed she will take catching, I just doubt she will. 3. Butler Butler could be looking for a mile and if the tempo is on here it will suit him as he likes to sit just off the pace. Too strong at Albury over 1400m third-up and is capable of showing up. 2. Bulala beat a subsequent winner last time at this track but he’s another that’s suspect at 1400m. It’ll take a good ride and a bit of luck, I’m not counting him out completely but I have my reservations.
How to play it: Chastity Strikes E/W ($23 TAB Fixed Odds), save Delivered E/W ($11).
Chastity Strikes finds the line stylishly to win at Wagga on February 22.
|Race 8 - 5:20PM PRICE PLUMBING SPECIALISTS HANDICAP (1000 METRES)|
3. Takookacod would have gained a run in the Qualifier if desired but would be a risk at 1400m and is well suited back to the same class and course where she scored easily two starts ago. Her record would be much more imposing had four of her last five starts not been in Sydney and don’t forget she was beaten 0.8 lengths by Victorem in a 1000m Highway in December. Outclassed and never a chance behind Deprive last time at Canterbury but entitled to go very close in this line up.
Dangers: 9. Stone Cold backs up after running third in a roughhouse five hose field sat Goulburn last Saturday. Copped a decent check but was able to pick himself up and run into third. Broke his maiden over this course at the start of his prep and is in the mix again. 2. Halliday Road will probably try to lead from the outside gate and if he finds the front without too much effort can give a sight as he did at Nowra last time out. Only poor run of late was at Warwick Farm so he’s well worth including. 1. Gangstar's Curse tends to race well fresh, is nicely drawn and fitter for a recent trial. Each-way claims at least.
How to play it: Takookacod WIN ($2.30 TAB Fixed Odds).
Takookacod proves too strong at Wagga two starts ago on January 12