By Neil Evans
Track around Soft 7 and rail true.
|Race 1 3YO MAIDEN PLATE (1100m)|
The maidens get us underway at set weights. Godolphin 3YO filly 8. Virgo maps to get the right trail, and looks well placed from the draw third-up after working home well in two runs back.
Dangers: Improving filly 7. Tight Ropes was only caught in the last bound second-up here. Has race experience on her side, and suited under the conditions. Big market watch on stablemate filly 3. Comporta who debuts off some smart work at the trials, and draws the inside.
How to play it: Virgo to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 2 MAIDEN HCP (1250m):|
Now the older maidens lock horns. Well bred 4YO mare 3. April Rain is very fresh off a year's break, and looks ready. Cruised home to win the second of two trials, and on debut this time last year finished hard in a handy maiden at this track. Sire was a star on rain affected ground.
Dangers: Ultra consistent 4YO import 1. Saint Of Katowice picked up where he left off in the UK after a 14-month break, missing by a nose at Wyong after trailing the speed. Can be expected to improve further, although untested in wet ground. Gap to the rest headed by 4YO 2. Kaptive who also resumes off a tidy trial for only his second start, and has shown enough in the wet.
How to play it: April Rain to win and quinella 1 and 3. Odds and Evens: Odds
April Rain wins a trial at Canterbury on December 15
|Race 3 MAIDEN HCP (1250m):|
Much more open affair, with plenty of chances. Randwick filly 7. Blaze Seven resumes off two trials, winning the second comfortably in heavy going, and is bred to plough through it being by two-time Doncaster winner and pure wet tracker Sacred Falls.
Dangers: Press Statement 3YO 2. Law Party debuts for a smart juvenile stable off two trials, but will need to slot in from a wide gate. Expect 3YO 4. Major Artie to improve further after being held up for a long way first-up off a long break at Newcastle, and is over the odds; while 11. Hot Spring Gold returns off an easy trial, and is drawn to get an economical run, but is a big query in the ground.
How to play it: Blaze Seven to win
Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 4 BM 72 HCP (1900m):|
Out in distance now for a good tactical affair. Hard to go past progressive 5YO mare 2. Merlinite who had all sorts of trouble getting clear second-up here over this trip before attacking the line impressively. Carries 2kg less this time after the claim, and given she's got strong BM 78 form over further, looms as the one to beat.
Dangers: Nice 4YO 5. Amoretti comes back to town after a dominant CL1 win fourth-up at Wyong when ridden closer. Ready for the longer journey, and at his best in soft ground. Wyong mare 3. Joigny kept coming to miss by a whisker third-up off a long absence on the Kensington track in similar grade, and can peak over this trip. Newcastle 4YO 6. Savvy Crown has won his last two in weaker company at the provincials, and reloads after missing the washed out Gosford meeting on Thursday. Will need good speed on from the half mile to get over the top.
How to play it: Merlinite to win and box exacta 2,3,5. Odds and Evens: Split
Merlinite runs second at Canterbury on December 11
|Race 5 BM 72 HCP (1100m):|
Improving 4YO 6. Front Money has been given time since an even first-up effort here in mares grade, although was a little soft to the line. Naturally fitter, and like her staying at this trip in suitable conditions.
Dangers: Exciting Newcastle colt 3. Triple Ace is unbeaten this prep over the quick-fire 900m course at the provincials, and the timing looks right for a metropolitan assault over longer. Will likely get a good trail just off the speed, although first time in these conditions. Hawkesbury mare 9. Diva Bella resumes off a steady trial, and was a dominant provincial winner in Soft 7 ground last prep; while include in exotics well-bred filly 10. Unstoppabelle who resumes off two trials and down in weight.
How to play it: Front Money to win and trifecta 3,6/3,6,9,10/3,6,9,10. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 6 CHRISTMAS CLASSIC (1200m):|
Feature race of the night at Listed level, with plenty of quality on show. Despite drawing wide, high class 4YO 7. Eleven Eleven looks the one to beat carrying just 1.5kg over the limit. Terrific second-up effort at Wyong circling from the 500m to round up a good Magic Millions field in style, and has a 50 percent winning strike rate on soft tracks.
Dangers: Big fan of tough 4YO 5. Hightail who looks ready off two smart trials, and draws to get plenty of cover. Well treated at the weights too, although would prefer a drier surface. Watch the betting on smart 4YO 11. Discharged who bolted in the second of two trials, and carried much more weight last prep winning up to the mile at BM 88 level. Tough 6YO 1. Easy Eddie can improve sharply second-up. Didn't do much resuming in the Listed Starlight, but form after one run is significantly stronger, and relishes soft ground. Speedy 4YO 12. Spaceboy was no match for the top selection at Wyong, but drops a whopping 6kg, and should find the front. Local 5YO 2. Quackerjack resumes off a nice trial, and can be more competitive here after battling in Group company through spring.
How to play it: Eleven Eleven to win and first four 5,7,11/1,5,7,11/1,2,5,7,11,12/1,2,5,7,11,12. Odds and Evens: Odds a special
|Race 7 BM 72 HCP (1250m):|
Open sprint for horses 5YO and Up. Improving 5YO 5. Super Contender can peak here third-up over a more suitable distance. Did it tough in the run resuming but stuck on okay before chasing valiantly behind the flying Malkovich, and 1.5kg claim is pivotal.
Dangers: Tough 5YO 4. Catapult has race fitness on his side, and hit the line hard here last start. The winner of that race is smart, and the third horse has since won at the provincials. Be surprised if one of those two doesn't win, but keep safe resuming mare 7. Tepario who resumes off a forward trial, and has plenty of ability.
How to play it: Super Contender to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 8 BM 72 HCP (1550m):|
We cap the meeting with a competitive and wide open middle distance battle for those 3YO & Up. Form 6YO mare 8. Majella has won a trial in heavy ground since winning two straight narrowly in and around this grade, and draws to get a nice trail off the fence and off the speed.
Dangers: Improving 5YO 1. Invasion Day put two wins together up to this level before working home okay under a big weight last start, although big ask to carry 61kg again from a wide draw; while 6YO mare 6. Miss Redoble can peak getting out to this distance fourth-up
How to play it: Majella to win. Odds and Evens: Split