By Neil Evans
Track Good 4 and rail true so should play fairly even early before a gradual trend away from the fence.
|Race 1 METRO & PROV MAIDEN PLATE (1300m):|
Competitive opener, and looks a nice second-up race for 3YO Randwick gelding 3. Devan after he was slow to begin & wobbled around a bit in the straight before edged out a nose resuming in a handy maiden on the heavy at the Beaumont track. The one to beat, with senior metro rider on.
Dangers: Local 5YO gelding 1. Pioneer was sidelined for nearly two years before returning with two solid on-speed efforts here for leading stable. Punters are out to recoup after he was heavily backed last start. Another Randwick-based 3YO and second-up, 4. Kirwan's Lane can finish hard after a good return at Newcastle; while Godolphin filly 9. Static will appreciate the longer trip and firmer ground at her second start.
How to play it: Devan to win and trifecta 1,3,4/1,3,4/1,3,4,9. Odds and Evens (First 2): Odds
|Race 2 MAIDEN HCP (1600m):|
Moderate affair but 3YO Warwick Farm filly 9. Segrill is good value, despite only having been placed twice from 10 starts. Liked her closing effort second-up at Hawkesbury when well specked at a double figure price, and getting to the mile now has a sense of timing about it.
Dangers: Progressive 3YO Rosehill gelding 1. Unamerican covered ground before working home only fairly as a well backed favourite at Newcastle third career start, but will find this easier with the blinkers going on, and scratched from Goulburn on Thursday; while home track 3YO 4. Highmaster would need to improve off a plain second-up run, but fitter and draws to get a soft run.
How to play it: Segrill each way and quinella 1 and 9. Odds and Evens: Odds
|Race 3 STAYERS' CUP BM 70 HCP (2400m):|
Not much between most of these over the mile-and-a-half, but 4YO Warwick Farm stallion and ex UK stayer 3. Corncrake can break through for first win Down Under getting to the right trip, and back on firmer ground. Has shown steady improvement last couple working home through heavy ground in deeper races, and all three career wins from nine starts have come on firm tracks. Sire was a dual Group 1 winner from only three starts, and dam bolted in her only start at Listed level.
Dangers: Randwick 4YO 2. Castel Sant'angelo showed enough improvement second-up to suggest he can peak getting out to this distance, although still may be a run short. Respect 4YO 4. Frenzied from the Waterhouse-Bott stable who worked home okay from a long way back in a BM 64 last start, and drops 3.5kg for a more suitable journey. Progressive 5YO Canberra gelding 5. Fox Beat has dashed home to win his last two with plenty up the sleeve, but more depth here and drawn off the track; while 7YO Hawkesbury mare 7. Kiarra Rose almost habitually mixes her form, but charged home to win on the Beaumont track last start, and gets a soft run from the inside draw.
How to play it: Corncrake to win. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 4 BM 64 HCP (1200m)|
Fairly open battle, with plenty of chances, but progressive 3YO Randwick colt 4. Warfare can strike fourth-up. Has been around the money all three runs this prep, despite only win coming last June in a maiden at Gosford, but again draws ideally to trail the speed, and just wants a genuinely run race.
Dangers: Improving 4YO Warwick Farm gelding 1. Galahad's Quest worked home nicely at big odds resuming in a very handy BM 70 at Newcastle, and is already a second-up winner. Local 7YO gelding 5. I Am Magnificent has been up for a while, and hit the line hard over 1000m here last start, but will need to find early cover from a horror draw; while 5YO stablemate 2. Black Chilli hasn't won for a while, yet all four wins from 25 starts have come here, although up in trip and also drawn wide make it tough.
How to play it: Warfare to win. Odds and Evens: Split
Warfare runs third at Canterbury on February 28
|Race 5 BM 64 HCP (1600m):|
Back out to the mile for another testing battle. Smart 3YO Hawkesbury filly 8. Darling Point is the one to beat third-up from a soft trailing draw. Outclassed resuming in the much tougher Group 2 Light Fingers before powering home late in a stronger race at Newcastle when forced to settle a long way back from a wide draw. Was taken out of the $200K Group 3 feature to race in this.
Dangers: Progressive 3YO Godolphin filly 10. Night Witches relished firmer ground and getting on to the bigger Newcastle track third-up bolting in her maiden, but this is a decent step up. Another one from the local stable of Gwenda Markwell, 5YO mare 4. Miss Jenny can be hard to catch, but chased hard all the way behind in-form Baracus fourth-up, and this is her best distance. Improving Nowra mare 9. Cuban Belle has dug deep on-speed to win her last two, but swaps the inside barrier for a wide draw here which could be telling.
How to play it: Darling Point to win. Odds and Evens: Evens
Darling Point runs fifth at Newcastle on February 29
|Race 6 KEMBLA GRANGE CLASSIC (1600m):|
Headline race of the day at Group 3 level for 3YO fillies, and if they all line up, I doubt there's ever been a stronger edition, although a couple of big guns have also accepted for the Group 2 Phar Lap at Rosehill on Saturday. High class Snowden-trained 2. Missile Mantra found the Group 2 company over 1200m too slick resuming, but second-up run behind two of the best 3YOs in the land was an outstanding pointer for this, and she looks brilliantly weighted and placed getting to the mile. Only went under a head in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas this distance in spring.
Dangers: Similarly, under-rated Hawkesbury-trained 3. Akari also comes out of those same carnival races, making late ground in the Surround without ever threatening. Dual Listed winner from spring, and is screaming out for this longer trip. If super talented Chris Waller-trained 4. Subpoenaed lines up carrying just 54kg, she'll be launching home from a mile back having drawn the extreme outside. Bolted in a BM 70 two runs back before rattling home in an enormous run behind two smart ones in a BM 78 at Rosehill. Stablemate 5. Nudge is also accepted for the Phar Lap, but comes out of that same BM 78 doing her best work late, and won her maiden comfortably at only previous run on this track. Godolphin-trained 1. Asiago can have a say second-up from a low draw after working home well first-up in that same race behind Subpoenaed. Beat a good BM 64 field last run here, and took care of a few of these in the Group 3 Spring Stakes at Newcastle. Progressive 6. Games Of Thorns from the Kris Lees yard at Newcastle motored home first-up to beat a good BM 64 field, but this is seriously tougher. Don't exclude emerging 8. All Saints' Eve from the Randwick stable of John O'Shea who waltzed past them with plenty in hand in a Class 1 at Newcastle. Drops in weight for this much sterner test, and she's still on the rise; while include Hawkesbury-trained 9. Icebath at big odds in wider exotics after two comfortable wins in weaker grade to start her second prep.
How to play it: Missile Mantra to win; Akari each way; first four 2,3,4,5/2,3,4,5/1,2,3,4,5/1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9. Odds and Evens: Split
|Race 7 CLASS 2 HCP (1400m):|
Open and tough one to finish, with plenty of chances. The second-up effort from a wide gate by 5YO Goulburn gelding 4. Al Mah Haha chasing home a smart one in the Country C'ship qualifier run in record time at Moruya was impressive. Not overly well in at the weights under 59.5kg, but he's been kept fresh, and this is the pet trip.
Dangers: Progressive 3YO Rosehill gelding 7. Surreal Step is a big threat off his smart first-up win in a BM 64 at Gosford finishing strongly from midfield, and senior metro rider jumps aboard. Local filly 9. Electric Girl is hard fit and won two of her last three, but she's been afforded soft runs behind the speed all prep, and can expect much more early pressure here in a bigger field. Improving Rosehill colt 2. Bottega has a tough draw and big weight to carry second-up, but the reference is there after his solid closing return in that BM 78 behind Positive Peace and Subpoenaed; while Wyong colt 5. Mocambo has plenty of ability, and resumes off two trials, but normally takes a run to fire.
How to play it: Al Mah Haha each way and trifecta 4,7,9/2,4,5,7,9/2,4,5,7,9. Odds and Evens: Split