By Brad Gray
|Race 1 - 11:20AM TAB HIGHWAY PLATE (1800 METRES)|
Defaulting to 2. Zadig given he is a last start Highway Handicap winner and he’ll settle down in the first couple. The knock is that his all the way win at Randwick was eight weeks ago now. The four-year-old has had a tickover trial since. He’s still only had the 11 starts so still has upside, particularly out to this journey for this first time. Dylan Gibbons rode Zadig last start and took control of the race from the outset. He’s unlikely to get such a cosy time in this with Kadashi engaged, and with that runner drawn wide, but he can take a trail and be equally effective. The son of Astern is so well placed after the 3kg claim giving the set weight conditions of the race. Would be supremely confident about Zadig’s chances without the gap between runs but that’s the gamble we’ll have to take.
Dangers: On the theme of well placed gallopers under these conditions, the conversation has to turn to 1. Relucent. He is has a rating of 77! That’s nine points higher than the second top rater. He finds James McDonald and comes off a closing fourth at Eagle Farm last start behind Deficit. 9. Lord Desanimaux savaged the line at Kembla Grange last start despite dropping back to 1200m. That run tops him off for 1800m third up on the back up. There is always a plan with Terry Robinson. 10. Mirror Queen is a lightly-raced mare chasing three straight wins. She didn’t beat much at Gunnedah last start but she maps to get a soft run and presents well out to 1800m fifth up. The aforementioned 11. Kadashi can give check from in front at odds.
How To Play It: Zadig WIN
|Race 2 - 11:55AM MIDWAY HANDICAP (1800 METRES)|
1. Highly Desired just has to tick off the 1800m box. He has failed in four previous tries beyond the mile. The timing is right to try again, however, on the back of a dominant Warwick Farm victory.
Dangers: 7. Adios Steve ploughed through the heavy conditions at the midweeks last start, running out the 1800m. He was on trial at the trip himself there. He makes his own luck. Wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see 12. Songbird Serenade improve sharply now she’s getting deeper into her campaign. 8. Butch’n’bugs continues to race well and caught the eye late in Midway company two back over the mile. 13. Etheridge has a history of improving second up while 11. Nicochet could sneak into the money again.
How To Play It: Highly Desired WIN
|Race 3 - 12:30PM RMHC SYDNEY HANDICAP (2400 METRES)|
Not jumping off 5. Marakopa. The race looked to have fallen into his lap at Warwick Farm last start but the month between runs and 60kg perhaps told at the finish. It was only a field of six but there was a further five lengths back to third. The stayer continues his purple patch of form and going back up to BM78 company, he gets 4kg of weight relief. He can only come on from his last start effort, on the 10 day turnaround. His past Randwick form is terrific. He tackled this track and trip back in late May and spaced his rivals. That was the turning point. Two starts later he lined up at Randwick for the second time and ran Shameless Miss to two lengths when second in the Stayers Cup. The draw is perfect for Louise Day to secure a midfield trail.
Dangers: 2. Our Candidate dropped back to country company last start, scoring a confidence boosting win at $1.30. He had been right around the mark in key form references for this race prior to that. Should camp on the leaders backs and get his chance. Forget 6. Yggdrasil’s effort on Saturday, dropping back to 1800m. She is a genuine mile and a half mare as she proved the start prior on a bottomless Rosehill track. 1. Cadre Du Noir looks ready for 2400m now and love the way he trucked to the line in a recent tickover trial. 4. So United shouldn’t cop the same pressure in front that he did at Warwick Farm last start, giving him the chance to bounce back. He had genuine excuses. Keen to see 3. Philipsburg out to this trip for the first time.
How To Play It: Marakopa WIN
|Race 4 - 1:05PM JOCKEY CELEBRATION HANDICAP (1400 METRES)|
13. Conqueror profiles as one of the more exciting new season three-year-old prospects. Didn’t expect him to resume over 1400m against older horses with races like the Rosebud just around the corner but Chris Waller obviously has hatched a plan to get the untapped colt to the top level. The son of Churchill won a hot maiden at the midweeks on debut and did it in style, clocking some sharp closing splits. She’s Extreme, Alpha One, Seven Veils and Dashing Legend are just some of the youngsters to have run in it. There has been a lot to like about the way he has trialled on two occasions ahead of his return. Every horse has their price and concede he is short enough in early betting but he could be very smart.
Dangers: Could have my head turned by 1. Cacofonix at the early odds on offer. Thought he was excellent at his first run in Australia over a trip short of his best. Couple that with the slow early tempo and being forced to lump 60kg. Out to 1400m second up, gets in well after the 3kg claim of Dylan Gibbons and can use the draw to be closer. 3. Gracilistyla gets the blinkers on for the first time and resumes over 1400m. There is some intent to be read into the set up for this gelding. 10. Coodarady showed great determination on debut to win at Newcastle. That was a year ago now but he has won a recent trial and James McDonald is booked. 5. Cotton Fingers is a place hope.
How To Play It: Conqueror WIN
|Race 5 - 1:40PM BISLEY WORKWEAR HANDICAP (1300 METRES)|
This shapes to be a tactical race given the lack of an obvious leader. That could see the race-fit 7. Pizarro land closer from the low draw. The lightly-raced four-year-old is building an impressive record, with two wins and four seconds from his six starts, as he works his way through the grades. He wasn’t suited by the midrace slow down at Randwick last Saturday but he possessed the turn of foot to overcome that. First and second turning for him, filled the minors. The son of All Too Hard faces a field with more depth class wise but his most obvious threats up the top of the weights strike the race first up. Fourth up, on the quick back up and possessing a turn of foot that’ll help him overcome a lack of pressure equip him with everything he needs to make it back-to-back wins.
Dangers: 1. Grace And Harmony is very dangerous. The five-year-old has spent 41 weeks on the sidelines but she was only two lengths off Ellsberg in BM88 company first up last preparation. Would love to imagine a scenario where she races handy, and she showed good toe in a recent barrier trial, but she’s most likely to be ridden conservatively. 2. Equation resumes as a gelding and although he did have his convictions last campaign, returning in this company gives him the chance to remind us of his talent. His form to date also suggests that he loves the sting out of the ground. 5. Niffler could potentially roll forward. She has been freshened since failing out to 1800m. 8. Yukon is another potential to go forward. 4. O’Mudgee is worth consideration too. 9. Daralina Belle is fit and flying but she’s very well found and maps to be last.
How To Play It: Pizarro WIN
|Race 6 - 2:15PM NSW JOCKEYS REUNION HANDICAP (1000 METRES)|
Nothing went right for speedy mare 6. Smirnova last preparation, denying her the chance to build on an undefeated first campaign. The four-year-old was a good thing beaten first up over the 955m dash at Moonee Valley as an odds on favourite before she raced too keenly out to 1200m second up having camped outside of the leader. Despite that she was only beaten 3.6 lengths by Mazu which reads well now. Don’t think she was overly comfortable on the heavy ground either. Forgive her failure thereafter after landing in front. A soft track would be ideal given the dominance of her Canterbury win back in November on a Soft 7. Looked sharp in her Rosehill trial win and she maps to settle just in behind the speed. That shouldn’t leave her with any excuses.
Dangers: 1. Maotai resumes with a host of gear changes but none more significant than being gelded. Perhaps that’ll curb his mid-race ‘enthusiasm’. His asset is his cruising speed but liked the way he responded to being ridden with cover in his trial. Will barrier 1 be a blessing or a curse for him? Can see cases both ways. 4. Van Giz clocked the fastest closing splits of the meeting first up last preparation when second to The Bopper. She is an explosive fresh and 1000m horse. Extremely dangerous at double figure odds. 8. Leo has won four from six over this track and trip and loved the way he has trialled ahead of his return. The biggest obstacle for him is the sticky map. Not sure where he gets to in the run. There’s no such query with 10. Rita May, and she gets in very light. 3. Quick Tempo rates a mention.
How To Play it: Smirnova WIN
|Race 7 - 2:55PM RECOVERY PARTNERS PREMIER'S CUP PRELUDE (1800 METRES)|
6. Lord Ardmore ran his rivals into the ground over this same trip at Rosehill last start. That was with 59.5kg and only second up, jumping 1300m to 1800m with five weeks between runs. It was a big win. He can only improve off that given the set up he faced. It’s easy to get the impression that this five-year-old is on the cusp of a breakout preparation where he graduates to becoming a genuine Group class stayer. His first up run was impressive too, running on into second over the sprint trip behind Coal Crusher. All of the indicators are there that he can keep charging through the grades. Hugh Bowman was on last start and he sticks, dropping 4kg up in grade, and he draws perfectly to take advantage of his on speed racing style. If he doesn’t lead, he should be any further back than a pair.
Dangers: 12. Alcyone made a statement first up at Rosehill, powering to a visually impressive win over 1500m. It was in BM78 company and it’s probably fair to suggest that the win was a touch flattering to the eye when you look into the times he ran but that gives the five-year-old a perfect springboard to go forward off. 8. Francesco Guardi chased home his stablemate Lord Ardmore last start and was taking some ground off him late. It’s hard to see him turning the tables but that’s obvious a strong reference for this. 11. La Chevalee loves Randwick (5:3-0-1) and plummets 9kg from her last start win. 10. Mubariz’s form also ties in through Lord Ardmore.
How To Play It: Lord Ardmore WIN
|Race 8 - 3:35PM EXPEDO MISSILE STAKES (1200 METRES)|
Tried to find something to beat 3. Forbidden Love but she’s simply too well placed in Group Two company first up under the race conditions. The five-year-old finished second over 1200m first up last preparation in the autumn’s comparable race, the Expressway, where Anamoe finished third. That was on a good track too. Thereafter she jumped out of the ground, winning three on the bounce, two at Group One level. She is a mare that relishes wet tracks. The daughter of All Too Hard has trialled well ahead of her return, winning her heat on the Randwick synthetic suggesting that she has returned as well as last campaign. The map could be tricky, pending how aggressive the tactics are on Embracer. If the field breaks up, she’s every chance of box seating. That’s the gamble, where she gets to in the run, but the early price suggests we’re going to end up with generous odds to find out.
Dangers: 7. Embracer flies fresh and the last two times he has tackled the Randwick 1200m has seen him finish third, beaten 1.2L by Masked Crusader and a narrow second to Private Eye in the Show County. 1. Count De Rupee is suited by a drying track. The soft is fine for him. When he is smothered up in the run he produces an explosive turn of foot. The draw gives him the chance to camp midfield and get his chance. There wasn’t a lot between him and Forbidden Love in their lead up barrier trial. 10. Belluci Babe has a short, sharp sprint so the low draw is critical to her chances. Look for her spearing through late. Would prefer 1100m for her first up but otherwise, she sets up ideally with J-Mac steering. Reluctant to undersell 2. Hilal or 5. Gem Song, while 12. Enchanted Heart backs up from a luckless second on Saturday.
How To Play It: Forbidden Love WIN
|Race 9 - 4:15PM NSW JOCKEYS ASSOCIATION HANDICAP (1600 METRES)|
1. Bold Mac found himself in the perfect spot at Rosehill two weeks ago to take advantage of a slow tempo but take nothing away from the former Kiwi. It was an impressive first outing for Chris Waller. There was support for him in betting late too. Just when you thought Blesk was going to zip straight past him, he dug in for the fight and was coming away on the line. He clocked the second quickest last 200m in the race, only bettered by the flashing light in the contest Toomuchtobear, who franked that form in last Saturday’s Winter Challenge. Love the step out to the mile for Bold Mac second up and he maps to get a very similar soft run. Coming back from BM88 company to BM78 company after a win sees him jump to 60.5kg but regardless, he’s beautifully placed to win again.
Dangers: 4. Il Affare is looking for the mile now. The five-year-old mare was coming again through the line behind talented stablemate Frumos. Second and third there, Sur La Mer and One Aye, have both subsequently won impressively since so there is great depth to that race. Finds James McDonald and also maps perfectly. 2. Contributingfactor reacted nicely to the blinkers going on for the first time last Saturday. That’s now five wins from 12 starts and the mile won’t stop him. 6. Casino Kid has plenty against him, namely jumping 1100m to 1600m second up and four weeks between runs, throw in the wide gate too. However, he is a talent. 3. Silent Agenda can improve while 10. Fiordland is racing well.
How To Play It: Bold Mac WIN
|Race 10 - 4:50PM VERTO HANDICAP (1200 METRES)|
It was impossible to miss the return of 11. Sunrise Ruby at Randwick four weeks ago. That looks an obvious form reference for this race. The Mitch Beer-trained mare balanced up in the second half of the field but attacked the line to run second to Lady Brook. Out to 1200m second up on another wet track, she can turn the tables. The barrier gives Tim Clark options late in the meeting to assess where he needs to get to in the straight, while the speed up front should be genuine enough for her to get her chance. Significantly, all four of her career wins have come over this trip so with the run under her belt, out to her pet trip, it’s all aligned for her to go one better than first up. She wasn’t beaten all that far in a Kosciuszko last preparation, underlining her talent.
Dangers: 10. Marchioness finished eighth in that same race but that doesn’t do the run justice. The former Kiwi fired up in the early stages which saw Jay Ford drag her back to second last before finding herself being a wall of horses in the straight. She was 35 weeks between runs and is better placed out to 1200m. 14. Twice As Special was also spearing to the line there and she has since bolted in at the midweeks. 1. Glittery faces the task of overcoming 59kg and the carpark draw but she possesses the turn of foot to overcome it if the breaks fall her way. 8. Lady Banff is capable on her day while there was a lot to like about the returns of 9. Brazen Song and 13. Eye See Things. Can even make a little case for 12. Meg at monster odds.
How To Play it: Sunrise Ruby WIN