By Neil Evans
Track likely Soft 5 and rail True
|Race 1 2YO MAIDEN HCP (900m):|
Almost a full field of first starters makes for a testing opener. Exceed And Excel colt 4. Harley Street has spent plenty of time at the trials, winning the latest when he showed high cruising speed to open up a huge lead before holding off the flying Artorius who of course then hit the line well in Saturday's Golden Slipper. With natural speed from a good draw, this trip on the smaller track looks a winning recipe for the Slipper-winning stable.
Dangers: Provincial filly 1. Snowdrop resumes her career after tackling smart juvenile opposition late last year including being easily over-run behind star-in-waiting She's All Class in the Magic Millions at Wyong. Drawn well with a significant 3kg claim advantage, and should be in the finish. Debutant Snitzel filly 7. Chimes has also trialled well for a leading metro yard; while keeping safe Deep Field filly 9. Heavenly Field who was close-up in a trial behind Carartie who should have nearly won on debut at Gosford on Saturday.
How to play it: Harley Street to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 2 MAIDEN HCP (1200m):|
Open affair this one. Expecting three-year-old 14. Splendiferous to return a significantly better filly this prep, and she can strike fresh in her first run since spring. Showed great cruising speed sitting off the fence in the second of two trials before winning it with ease, and the wait for a drier track can pay dividends.
Dangers: Connections of Scone three-year-old 2. Kurlansky are banking on blinkers making the difference after a solid closing run here on debut in a deeper maiden. Again draws to get a cosy run with cover from the inside. Serious market watch on Choisir first starter 3. Supreme Challenger off two forward trials for high strike rate metro stable, the latest cruising in behind and didn't get much room late. Capable metro filly 12. Loveland can peak here fourth-up from a nice draw, but would still need to find at least a length given she's missed a place in her last two at the provincials.
How to play it: Splendiferous to win and box exacta 2,3,14. Odds and Evens: Evens
|Race 3 MAIDEN HCP (1850m):|
Always a tricky tactical affair over this distance at set weights. Rosehill three-year-old 3. Ossabuco is ready to break through after four improving runs in his first real prep. Kept working home from the turn over a similar trip at Hawkesbury, and dual Group 1-winning jockey from Saturday goes on.
Dangers: Progressive filly 11. Credit Crunch was stiff not to win at big odds after being held up at Kembla, and is even better suited here over ground carrying a kilo less. Watch the betting on 13. Sassysav who switches states with the blinkers applied after two runs at Pakenham; while well bred colt 5. Silent Thunder is better placed here up in distance on a more spacious track.
How to play it: Ossabuco to win. Odds and Evens: Odds a special
|Race 4 BENCHMARK 64 HCP (1850m):|
No shortage of chances here, and that will light up the eyes of exotic punters. Keen on good quality metro colt 4. Solar Apex second-up and out in distance. Worked home nicely from well back in a deeper metro race, and can be strong late on a suitably bigger circuit.
Dangers: Progressive and hard fit mare 2. Ladylovestogamble is a threat despite the wide draw. Showed tactical speed to find the front at Gosford in a Class 1 and never looked in trouble. Firmer track is also a plus.
How to play it: Solar Apex to win. Odds and Evens: Evens
|Race 5 FILLIES & MARES BENCHMARK 64 HCP (1200m):|
Exciting local filly 4. I Say Hello is by renowned UK distance sire Iffraaj, and can make it two wins from only three starts at home. Impressed in a recent trial here where she rolled home outside the winner who was pushed out much harder, and there was a big gap back to third. Came from well back to miss by a nose first-up off a year-long break in a similar race earlier this month.
Dangers: Very forgiving of promising filly 1. Salateen who didn't get the breaks second-up as a well backed favourite after an explosive off-speed fresh win at Gosford. Handicapper hasn't missed her with 61kg, but no doubt has the ability to run over them on the bigger track if she can slot in from the wide gate. Keep safe resuming 3. Sentimental off two improving trials; while 5. Canadian Spice rattled home to win her maiden second-up, but getting up in the weights. Include in exotics 14. Wholesome Delight second-up after a tidy return behind a smart one in this grade at Gosford.
How to play it: I Say Hello to win. Odds and Evens: Split
I Say Hello runs second at Newcastle on March 5
|Race 6 COLTS, GELDINGS & ENTIRES BENCHMARK 64 HCP (1200m):|
Now the boys' edition, and keen on progressive home track colt 6. Rustic Steel hitting back after having no luck first-up at Kembla when slow out, and then held up late striking traffic problems over the final furlong. Has since bolted in a trial here, and with the blinkers going on from a handier draw, he looms as the one to beat.
Dangers: Lightly raced four-year-old 8. O'Mudgee was terrific first-up overcoming a sluggish start to round them up in a similar provincial race, although weighted right to his best in this field. Keep safe five-year-old 7. Blazing who has been holding his own okay in deeper metro BM 72 grade all prep.
How to play it: Rustic Steel to win. Odds and Evens: Split
Rustic Steel wins a trial at Newcastle on March 25
|Race 7 BENCHMARK 68 HCP (1400m):|
Stack of chances in a strong closer. Got plenty of time for lightly raced four-year-old 3. Numbers Game who swept home to win second-up at Mudgee before close-up in a similar race at the provincials when well backed. Can peak now over this trip.
Dangers: Progressive four-year-old 2. Mensa Missile is a serious threat third-up over a bit more ground after finishing best from the trail at Kembla second-up beating well-performed filly Geist. Under-rated mare 8. Happy Candy is a mile over the odds second-up after working home with little room behind a talented winner here, and drops down another 2kg. Scone mare 9. Deepwood Vale is the weighted runner of the race third-up. Charged down the outside to win a weaker grade at Tamworth, and while taking on some much better ones here, she drops 7.5kg after the claim on an even more suitable bigger track. Talented filly 12. So Far Away has hit the line hard in two runs back, and also gets good weight relief in a deeper race. Improving three-year-old 6. Land Of Valens draws to find a nice trail just off the speed, and a drying track is a plus.
How to play it: Numbers Game each way and first four 2,3,8,9/2,3,8,9,12/2,3,6,8,9,12/2,3,6,8,9,12.