We kick off another big weekend of racing in Australia with eight races under lights at The Valley, with the track rated a Good 4 and the rail out 4m.
Check out @Tim_Tips' race-by-race preview below.
Best Bet: Race 8 - (3) Longclaw
Best Value: Race 5 - (4) Triple Shot
This is a terrific race to kick things off, with a number of winning hopes in what looks a very competitive start to the card. (4) Jubilosa goes on top for me. This is just a stable and jockey combination I love and when they bring horses to town, they always run well. In fact, Patrick Payne has brought nine runners to The Valley this season, with five top-two finishes. The filly ran first up from a six-week break with a good effort for 2nd behind The Gauch at Traralgon, where she recorded the third fastest final 400m and fifth fastest final 200m of the meeting. With the good draw we should see her ridden on speed and I suspect she'll be right in the finish. The value in the race is quite clearly (3) Hot In Paris at $12. She ran 2nd at Bendigo first up from a spell over the 1000m, where she recorded the fastest final 400m and second fastest final 200m of the entire meeting. The step up to 1200m surely suits her better and she should get a sweet run from barrier 4. (6) Paul's Regret is the horse I'm terrified of. This is another trainer/jockey combination I like, with Damian Lane riding for Peter Chow. This horse ran 2nd on debut at Geelong back in August, where she was caught four-wide without cover throughout and only went down by a half-a-length. She resumes today with no trial but she comes straight to town and Lane is booked, which are both ominous signs. (7) Summer Lover looks the likely leader. She ran 2nd at Sandown Hillside on debut, where she led everywhere bar the post. The horse that beat her then came out and ran well for 2nd on Wednesday at Sandown, so the form has some depth. She drops from 1300m back to 1200m, but if she leads again she'll prove very tough to run down at The Valley. (5) Namimo resumes from a spell and I just feel she's had her fair share of opportunities to win a race. This isn't an easy assignment so she's short enough for my liking. (2) Dondeska represents Danny O'Brien and Damien Oliver, but she's had her chances in recent starts and didn't exactly put the writing on the wall last start. Again, this is a deep race so I'll be taking her on. Jubilosa and Hot In Paris will be my main plays in the race, with Paul's Regret and Summer Lover the horses I fear most.
This is another cracking little race. Of the eight runners, I could probably make a case for seven of them. I'm going to stick with (3) Rocking Eagle at $5.50. I was on him him last start but he went absolutely awful, finishing 7th of 8. There was seemingly no explanation for his poor performance that day, despite being firm in the market. The tongue tie does go on for the first time today, so perhaps he choked down? Either way, I think that's a positive gear change and hopefully he can return to the form prior to last start, where he won on debut and then motored home behind Oasis Girl. I think that Oasis Girl formline is very strong, and in that race Rocking Eagle ran the fourth fastest final 200m and fifth fastest final 400m of the entire meeting. There looks a good tempo here, so from barrier 4 he should sit off the speed and get his chance to swoop over the top. (7) Lake's Folly is a very scary horse. He was a dominant winner on debut back in June, before two failures in September. He was put straight back out for a spell following those performances and he returns tonight. His trial at Cranbourne leading into this was nice. He wasn't asked to do much and he looked to be travelling strongly through the line. Michael Poy has had six rides for Anthony Freedman in the past 12 months, for three wins and two placings. This is Freedman's only runner of the night at The Valley. He'll love the pace, but the main worry is barrier 1, which could see him locked away three pairs back on the rail. He'll need luck, but equally, he might just be the best horse in the race. Happy to back both, but there's a few I haven't mentioned that obviously have chances as well.
(1) Kardashing carries all the weight here but I think she's a class above these. She was a 2L winner in BM64 company last start at Sandown, where she jumped to the front and led all the way. She carried 59kg under Michael Poy on that occasion and the apprentice keeps the ride with the mare carrying 60.5kg tonight. She's yet to win third up but she has placed in three of her four attempts. Her only start over the track and distance was a 2nd placing. Hopefully she jumps to the lead again from barrier 2 and gives them all something to chase. I would expect (4) Clean Acheeva to improve tonight. She didn't do much first up but she's got a reasonable second up record. She was beaten a length by Kardashing last prep and gets a 3kg weight swing in her favour from that meeting, but barrier 1 probably isn't the best for her. (2) Ignored is an interesting runner making her Australian debut for Danny O'Brien with Damien Oliver in the saddle. She's a three-time winner back in NZ, two of which were at this distance. She's undefeated second up from a spell and both of those victories have followed fairly average first up runs. She's had a nine-week break and changed stables since that first up run, but I'd be keeping her very safe tonight.
This comes across as a trappy sort of race. (4) Bowing goes on top by default as he's the form horse of the race, but I must admit $2.20 appears a bit short. He's a horse that tends to get back and this is a race that appears devoid of speed. With that said, he's won two of his three starts this prep and finished 2nd on the other occasion. He's only had five starts so he's still got plenty of room for improvement and Mitch Freedman has his stable flying. Jess Eaton takes 3kg off which should help and he appears the one to beat. (6) Spanish Poet is probably the leader here. He's also flying, with seven top-two finishes from his eight starts this preparation! The 1600m is probably his limit but he should get every chance as the leader in a race lacking tempo, especially at The Valley with the rail out 4m. (9) Caorunn City could be the big improver. He blew the start first up. His only career win came second up last preparation so if he jumps on terms he can go well.
Another very competitive race, as these 955m races tend to be. I'm keen to stick with (4) Triple Shot here, who I tipped at $61 last start when he ran 3rd in a similar race. He should have won that night but was held up from barrier 1 before getting through late to be beaten 0.4L into 3rd. That race was won by (5) Rebel Miss, who is a $6.00 chance tonight, but Triple Shot should have beaten her and he gets a 2.5kg weight swing in his favour tonight, yet is double the price. He's drawn inside again but there looks good speed on tonight and with even luck, he can run a big race once again. (2) Miss Street is another I'll have something on at $4.50. She's had two runs back from a spell and hasn't been beaten far in either. Her third up record is good and she very rarely runs a bad race. The concern for her tonight is the amount of speed alongside her but if she can somehow find the front quickly, she should prove tough to run down.
Theme of the night continues with a tricky race yet again. Interested in (9) Licko'paint first up here. She's been jumping out exceptionally well leading into this. She's had two jumpouts at Flemington and has cruised to the line in both. She looks to have come back super. Most of her racing last prep was done in Sydney but she's been kept to Melbourne this time around and if she runs to her best she should be very competitive. Barrier 8 is tricky but hopefully she gets a cart into the race. (8) Hidden Charm led all the way on debut at Kyneton and did it pretty comfortably. Her trials leading into that debut were very good and she should get her chance to win again if she finds the front early in the race. (1) The Closer returns from a spell for Maher, Eustace and Michael Poy. She didn't quite measure up in some blacktype races last prep, and then failed in two Sydney runs. I couldn't find a jumpout for her but she's had some support in early betting and her form from earlier in her career was sound. (2) Neurotic was poor first up but blinkers go on, as does Ollie. That's a scary combo. (5) Goldifox can run well; she's placed in all three first up runs to date but hasn't really troubled the winner in any of them.
Three I'm interested in here. (10) Zoology goes on top after consecutive placings at this track and distance in his past two starts. He's run the fastest final sectionals in both of those races. Good Therapy came out of the race he ran 2nd in last start and won last week, so there's some depth to the form there. He's been ridden by apprentices in his past two starts, but senior jockey John Allen goes on tonight. He has to carry the extra weight as a result but sometimes the senior jockey is a better result than the weight relief. Notably, the bar plates come off tonight, which is typically a good sign. He's drawn barrier 1, so he'll need some luck, but he's put the writing on the wall and rates as the one to beat tonight. (12) Sham I Am is a legitimate chance. He returned with a really stylish win first up at Cranbourne. He did get the run of the race behind a hot tempo, so he was entitled to win, but the way he did it certainly had merit. He's drawn wide again tonight in barrier 11, but he looks a progressive type that will also relish the step up to 1200m. (7) Volumn has returned in good order this prep. He was beaten a nose first up, then won second up, before being beaten a length last start. He was 1200m back to 1000m on that occasion, not an ideal set up for a race, but he's back up to 1200m tonight and the blinkers go back on. He'll take some running down. I'll be backing Zoology and Sham I Am, with a saver on Volumn.
I'm firmly aboard the Patrick Payne train again here with (3) Longclaw, which is my best bet of the night. He returned with a really stylish win first up at Pakenham over the mile, winning by 1.5L. He recorded the best sectionals of the race and he's only going to improve with that run under the belt and the step up to 2040m. He's got a very good secon up record, with two wins and a 3rd from three starts, he draws well in barrier 4 and the claim for Michael Poy should help. He looks incredibly hard to beat, and as mentioned in an earlier race preview, when P Payne brings horses to town, they run well. I think the only horse that can beat him is (7) Green Ivy. He was disappointing last start but he always goes poorly third up, in fact he's never run a place from four starts when third up. He did similar last preparation before coming out fourth up and winning easily over this distance, so expect him to bounce back to form tonight.
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