By Neil Evans
Track Soft 5/6 and rail true so likely pattern of on or just off the speed.
|Race 1 MAIDEN HCP (1200m):|
The maidens get us underway on a track that's had some rain. Randwick 3YO filly 4. Empress Bea dropped out on debut at big odds this track after beginning slowly and striking trouble early in the straight, but went back to the trials and hit the line smartly in good time, so expect a different horse this time around.
Dangers: Promising 3YO Randwick gelding 2. Cloud Factory reboots his career after failing on debut at Hawkesbury in the spring. Has trialled strong, the latest sitting three wide with no cover, but still finding the line in a competitive finish. Another debutant from the Gerald Ryan stable, 3YO gelding 1. Hard Edge (More Than Ready x Calvinia by Varick) is US-bred, and had two sound lead-up trials, although had to be pushed out to find the line in the latest.
How to play it: Empress Bea each way and box exacta 1,2,4. Odds and Evens (First 2): Split
|Race 2 PROV & CTRY MAIDEN PLATE (1200m):|
Very competitive and tricky sprint. Lightly raced 3YO Newcastle gelding 2. Captain Solo was terrific first up for 12 months on this track, eye-balling the heavily-backed stablemate all the way down the straight before edged out by a nose. With that experience and a soft draw, he can break through.
Dangers: Improving 4YO Hawkesbury mare 4. Carte Blanche didn't shirk the task first-up here, and draws to be in the finish again; while stablemate 3YO filly 6. Cubed did it tough from a wide barrier in the Magic Millions Maiden at the Gold Coast, but drops back to easier grade, and finished well in her only previous run at this track. Blinkers comes off. Hawkesbury 4YO mare 5. Moinda also attacked the line late first up in a handy maiden at Muswellbrook, and second-up form is sound. Local 3YO filly 7. Divine Approach was an easing favourite in that same race behind Captain Solo, but the run was solid, and previously flew home to just miss behind a nice galloper at Taree.
How to play it: Captain Solo to win and quinella 2 and 4. Odds and Evens: Evens
|Race 3 CLASS 2 HCP (1000m):|
Another testing small field of sprinters. Resuming 3YO Randwick filly 2. Sangria got involved in a speed battle and weakened late in her latest trial, but she has enough tactical pace to be the one to beat first-up over this trip.
Dangers: Godolphin 3YO gelding 1. Langiera has trialled okay, but normally peaks after one run. Liked the way 5YO Muswellbrook gelding 4. Siege Warfare hit the line from a mile back at Pt Macquarie, and while he'll need a heap of speed on up front to get over the top of these, drops a hefty 7.5kg in weight after rider's claim.
How to play it: Sangria to win. Odds and Evens: Odds
|Race 4 BM 64 HCP (2100m):|
Promising 4YO Newcastle mare 3. Azarmin gets out to this distance for the first time, but she has good country form-lines, and the way she charged home from well back to win a handy Class 2 at Taree last start this trip won't be a problem. Was scratched from a later race for this!
Dangers: Rosehill 5YO gelding 1. Agosto did little resuming in a stronger race over the mile at Warwick Farm, and wasn't always reliable as a hot favourite through his first prep. No question has the ability, but still likely to need the run under 60.5kg. Scone 8YO gelding 2. Sea Spirit can peak fifth-up this prep having chased home the smart Merlinite under the same weight in his last two.
How to play it: Azarmin to win. Odds and Evens: Odds
Azarmin wins at Taree on January 13
|Race 5 MAIDEN HCP (1600m):|
Keen on 3YO Warwick Farm filly 2. Wandonna who has been banging on the door, and can break through stepping up to the mile. Finished well at Canterbury two runs back before just missing out at Canberra, and draws the fence here with senior metro rider aboard.
Dangers: Warwick Farm filly 4. Startalk battled on well after leading in that same race on Jan 26, and gets in well after rider's 2kg claim; while stablemate 3YO filly 3. Happy Candy improved significantly at her second run in a Canberra maiden which is likely to be a strong form race.
How to play it: Wandonna to win. Odds and Evens: Split
Wandonna runs fourth at Canberra on January 24
|Race 6 BM 64 HCP (1600m):|
Another very tough contest over the mile, with plenty of chances. Local 5YO gelding 1. Highly Desired can make it three wins from his last six in suitable soft ground. Disappointed in a stronger BM 72 at Canterbury before close-up in the feature BM 83 at Forbes, and draws to get a lovely trail just off the speed.
Dangers: Goulburn 4YO gelding 2. Pauldron is another who enjoys soft ground, and finished hard to win a BM 66 at Wagga. Will naturally drift back, and back on a smaller track is a query. Wyong 6YO mare 3. Ondo Pasa rarely runs a bad one, and three runs back was less than half a length from the winner at BM 78 fillies and mares metro level. Expect sharp improvement from 5YO Wyong mare 11. Oxford Bella who has been disappointing in two runs at Muswellbrook since winning her maiden as a hot favourite just before Xmas; while 6YO Warwick Farm mare 8. Joe's Joy mixes her form, but has more ability than her three wins from 34 suggests. Has closed off nicely in her last two this grade behind a couple of useful ones.
How to play it: Highly Desired to win and box first four 1,2,3,8,11. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 7 F & M BM 64 HCP (1100m):|
Back to the sprint trip for the girls. Smart 4YO Warwick Farm mare 1. Super Cyclone had a false start to the New Year prep when she was pulled up resuming at Canterbury. Has since trialled in nice easy fashion, and while she's weighted close to her best, looks ready to fire on the fresh side.
Dangers: Newcastle 3YO filly 4. Siesta Key has taken big strides in her second prep just run down late at Scone before powering home to win a good Class 2 at Taree, and the third horse has since bolted in a BM 58 at Scone by more than four lengths. Newcastle 3YO filly 2. Fanciful Dream resumes off two forward trials, and draws the inside. Won three straight last prep up to BM 66 grade. Liked the first-up closing run from 3YO Hawkesbury filly 7. Islands although appears harshly treated at the weights up 3kg in same grade.
How to play it: Super Cyclone each way and quinella 1 and 4. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 8 C, G & E BM 64 HCP (1200m):|
Now the boys' turn over slightly longer trip, and there are plenty of hopes. Like 3YO Randwick colt 7. Warfare who looks ready to strike second-up. Flashed home late this track in his first run for more than six months, and ideally suited from the low draw getting out to 1200m.
Dangers: Warwick Farm 4YO gelding 4. Paulo Pace resumes off two quiet trials, but normally comes to hand quickly, and has run well in two starts at this track; while 3YO Randwick gelding and stablemate to Warfare, 8. Daredevil worked home hard from a long way back fourth-up behind Perigord.
How to play it: Warfare to win. Odds and Evens: Split.