It's a fairly stock-standard eight-race card this week, with a big day of Group 1 racing coming to us on Saturday.
Tonight's track is rated a Good 4 with the rail out 7m from last week.
Best Bet: Race 5 - (9) Sartorial Splendour
Next Best: Race 1 - (6) Meteorite
Best Value: Race 6 - (9) Esposito Gold
These races can sometimes be tricky to work out with horses on debut without having trialled publicly. With that said, they will have to be pretty good to beat (6) Meteorite. I backed her last start at Caulfield but her chances were all over after blowing the start and settling toward the back of the field. She then copped a bit of a check at the 200m before finishing off strongly. She was only beaten 1.8L and her final 200m was the second-fastest of the race, bettered only by the winner. On debut she actually led before being collared late, with a big gap to 3rd, so if she jumps well here, she should go forward and prove incredibly hard to beat. (2) Billjim looks a value chance at $11. He had no luck on debut. He led early, then let one cross to take a sit, and then was held up until the 200m and then again at the 100m. The horse that ran 2nd came out and won its next start so the form is reasonable. He trialled well leading into his debut and he gets the tongue tie on for the first time tonight. Zahra takes over the ride and he looks a touch over the odds at double figures. (7) Nerone has placed in all three career starts. The form out of his debut has proved incredibly strong, with five subsequent winners. He's been tested over 1400m in his past two but drops back to the 1200m here. He was caught three-wide without cover throughout the race last start so forgive him for that, and all his other form suggests he should be very competitive from the inside gate here. (5) Kiptanui was beaten a nose on debut and gets the blinkers on for the first time tonight with Damien Oliver taking the ride. Not without a chance.
Not overly confident in this race as it looks fairly open. (6) Tragic goes on top. She ran 3rd first up over 1300m at Seymour and then was beaten 2.3L by I Am Eloquent in Listed grade at Caulfield last start. Third up here, up to the mile, back in grade and looks as if she will get a nice run just off the leaders from barrier 5. (5) Selica won nicely on debut over 1200m on soft ground at Moe. The little queries for her today are barrier 7 in the field of 9, as well as the step up from 1200m to the mile. (7) Vegas Jewel could be the value at $10. She won by a nose on debut at Echuca and defeated a horse that was heavily backed to win on its debut. They cleared out from the 3rd horse, which is generally a good indicator that they can progress onto better races. She came with a looping run from the back of the field, so she'll be ridden cold again here, but I wouldn't discount her at the price.
These staying races are of little interest to me and this one is no different. (2) Serenade The Stars goes on top. He put up a brave effort two starts back against Dabiyr when he sat wide without cover throughout the race and still fought on well for 2nd. He then went to Adelaide last start and just found one better, but pulled over 7L clear from the 3rd horse. A repeat of those performances would see him hard to beat. (5) Young Hostess should roll forward from the wide barrier. She's had two wins and a 2nd from her past three starts and her last start victory was over 2800m which gives her a good grounding for tonight's 3000m race. (6) Da Deputy bolted in on heavy round over 3800m at Wagga last start. Queries about the strength of that form but he draws well and can be thereabouts.
This is another headache. (3) Egyptian Gold comes off a 5L win at Ballarat on the Synthetic surface over 2200m. Normally, I hate backing synthetic form when returning to the turf, but such is the lack of quality in this race, I'm going to stick with her. Lindsey Smith declared her as his best of his weekend runners, so that's a pretty good push. The other thing in her favour is the fact she'll roll forward and with the rail out 7m that's a positive. (4) Saddle The Sun has had four runs back from an 80-week spell. She won her first three starts, which were all on good ground, and this is the first time she'll run on a good track since. Look for her to run well. (2) Akamon will put itself up on speed and has a good record at the distance, while (5) Great Alpine Road is a knockout hope.
I think there's about two-and-a-half chances here. Very keen on (9) Sartorial Splendour. Unfortunately the $3.20 is all but gone and he's been backed into $2.70, which also won't last as he's as low as $2.35. This horse had a fairly decent wrap on him in his first preparation and he returned with a super effort first up behind what looks to be a serious horse in Garner. He shared the lead up front and was only run down in the very last stride. The Garner form is definitely worth following in my opinion, and this is a big drop back in class from that race. He should slide forward from barrier 13 and probably sit outside the leader. With even luck, he's very tough to beat here. (6) Humzz is going really well. He won three starts back and has since run consecutive 2nds, beaten 0.4L and 0.2L. Chicago Cub beat him two starts ago and he looks a nice type, while Sizzlefly beat him last start and is another horse with proven ability. Humzz will also drive forward from the inside draw and be in it for a long way. (8) Saorsa is first up from a spell and both career wins to date have come first up. Will appreciate the tempo up front.
(9) Esposito Gold was a crazy price at $21 and I still think the $14 on offer is a decent price for an each way bet. She's a track and distance specialist, with two wins and two placings from five starts over the mile at the Valley. She's been given two 'barrier trials' to open her campaign and we can surely expect a change in tactics tonight. Expect her to burrow through from the inside and take up a position right on speed, probably even leading. She won third up over this distance last prep and she looks to have been clearly set for this. (10) Play Me Now is the horse to beat if he returns in the same form he showed in his first two career starts. He led all the way to win on debut at Cranbourne and did the same to coast home over this track and distance at his second start. Last time we saw him he was outclassed in G2 company here but he's first up tonight and if he's wound up, he's the one to beat. (3) I Boogi can pop up in these races. Beware. (6) Supre goes well at this distance and her form from last prep is definitely good enough to win this, but the query for me is the step up from 1200m to 1600m.
Keen to see the return of (9) Three Beans here, who has only been to the races once and won nicely as the odds-on favourite at Ballarat on the synnthetic track in May. While synthetic form is a query, he trialled well leading into that and typical of the Hawkes stable, they put him away straight after that debut win. He's sure to be forward enough to win this and he's drawn well in barrier 6. He should be going close. There's a big watch on (7) Victoria Star for me. This horse won its first two starts in New Zealand and was then sold to Hong Kong. He raced only twice there and failed badly on both occasions. He injured a near fore tendon and hasn't raced since April 2018. He now makes his way to Australia. His only public trial at Cranbourne was OK, he looked a bit all over the place on the heavy ground but it was encouraging enough. He's been gelded leading into this run and he's been $21 into $13 in early betting. Keep an eye on him.
Hardest race of the night probably. I'm going with (2) Dame Of Thrones on top but not with any great confidence. She was very good last prep with two wins and a 2nd from three starts. That 2nd placing was first up behind Zoubo, who has measured up in better races since. The problem is there is so much speed on paper here, so she might have to take a sit from barrier 2, which means she will need luck at a crucial stage. She looks progressive though. (13) Can'tforgetyou did a great job to win with such conviction first up despite sitting wide without cover throughout. It was the slowest of the three 1000m races on the day but she could have won by further if she had a better run in transit. She might also have to take a sit from the awkward gate with such speed in the race. Only lightly raced and looks to have more to come. Include her in the quaddie. There's probably eight horses in this field that could win without surprising me.
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