A tough program of competitive racing awaits the punter, but there should be sufficient value to ensure we land on the right side of the ledger. Trainer Darren Elder has enjoyed plenty of success at this particular venue so it is hard to go past ROCKTAGONAL (9), despite the presence of a back row draw. Placed in each of his past three encounters, the son of Western Terror drew the pole position here on Monday afternoon, with the outing resulting in a solid finishing 3.6m 3rd to Military Man in a heat of the time-honoured Inter City Pace. The 4yo didn’t help his cause by racing keenly, and as a result, roughly for a few strides, prior to hitting the line with conviction. Rocktagonal hasn’t greeted the judge since last July when successful at Cranbourne. Although he doesn’t win out of turn, the time has arrived for Rocktagonal to enjoy a trip to the winner’s circle. ROCKNROLL TONY (4) has also been consistent of late with a couple of creditable placings, the latter a 7.3m 3rd to Mammals Riddle. Suitably drawn in four, the 6yo son of Rock N Roll Heaven should receive every chance, courtesy of Grace Panella. STEALTH BOMBA (10) was never a threat in a heat of the Inter City Pace, but he caught the eye with a solid effort. Slowly away from gate one and settling four pegs, the 5yo hit the line strongly, but late, in posting an 8m 4th to Johnson Step. While a bigger track would be more to his liking, Stealth Bomba must be given plenty of consideration. The second line draw won’t be a major hurdle. SIR RICHARD LEE (3) had been mixing his form in races of this nature, prior to a creditable 16m 5th to Tasty Delight in a heat of the NSW Derby. Ideally drawn and with Jack Callaghan taking the reins, the Heston Blue Chip 3yo is capable of giving plenty of cheek. Exotic players should include MISS SONIC BOOM (7), HOY JIVING (2) and WATTS UP LETS PLAY (6).
ROCKTAGONAL 1, Rocknroll Tony 2, Stealth Bomba 3, Sir Richard Lee 4.
Prior to his latest challenge, SUNSHINE PEPPER (4) had been racing well, with a couple of unlucky appearances included in the mix, as well as, losing trainer-driver Rodney Atkins four runs ago when badly checked. Following two sound placings at Newcastle, both behind Miss Verstappen, the son of Caribbean Blaster was never a factor in a heat of the Gold Chalice at Bathurst when a 29.4m 7th to Tasty Delight. Dropping back to a suitable assignment and drawing handily, Sunshine Pepper is capable of giving this a big shake. CASUAL RIVER (2) is racing in career best form, having won four of his past seven, and with the added bonus of a good draw, the Lily Hosking-trained 7yo is bound to runa bold race. After back-to-back Newcastle wins, the son of Santanna Blue Chip posted a 12.3m 6th to Mammals Riddle. Mark Callaghan will take over the driving duties and that will further enhance the claims of casual River. BETTER THAN CARMER (7) has drawn awkwardly on the inside of the back row but the Rodney Mercieca-trained daughter of Betterthancheddar can’t be dismissed as a threat. The 4yo mare drew wide and was never a factor in posting a 21.5m 7th to Harps at Menangle last week. Prior to that engagement Better Than Carmer had been racing well so expect driver Peter Hedges to have her in a challenging role on straightening. STYX VIXEN (10) worked a faded when a 20.9m 7th to Johnson Step in a heat of the Inter City Pace, and although confronted by a back row draw, don’t dismiss the mare as a threat in this company. SUNNY TOWN (1) has drawn well and remains in the multiple mix while CHRISTIAN SHANNON (8) is also a player in that regard. Former Victorian GILDED (6) is the question mark runner as she prepares to have her first start for Keith McDeed. Having her first outing since last December, the daughter of Mach THree has been to the trials on four occasions, with a 2nd at this venue being the best, while the other three she was beaten out of sight, However, McDeed is an astute mentor and if their is a money trial, then include her in the mix.
SUNSHINE PEPPER 1, Casual River 2, Better Than Carmer 3, Styx Vixen 4.
Although confronted by a tricky draw, that being the inside of the back row, the Mark Callaghan trained and driven mare REPARTEE (7) looks to be one of the ‘better bets’ on the card. Prior to her first engagement at this venue on Monday when she contested a heat of the Inter City Pace, Repartee had been racing in fine form at Newcastle. Settling midfield after commencing the 2422m challenge from the back line, Repartee was unable to make her presence felt in recording a 25.6m 4th to Im Quick As Fire. This assignment should be more to her liking, and with any luck in running, the daughter of Well Said should have a big say in the outcome of this event. The main dangers will join Repartee on the second row, including her stablemate, SKY DIAMOND (10). Jack will take the reins behind the 7yo for his dad, and like Repartee, Sky Diamond was never in the picture when a 23m 9th to Johnson Step, mainly due to covering extra ground. A solid Newcastle winner at his previous start, the son of American Ideal has been mixing his form but he is bound to run boldly in this field. HUEY LEWIS (9) will be looking to make news, and with one run under his belt since a spell, a bold showing is a possibility. The 6yo is coming off a mixed campaign previously, but his 9.4m 6th to Major Petrowas encouraging. MAMMALS RIDDLE (3) posted a handy 2nd to Ultra Bliss at this venue two starts ago then backed that up with a solid win at Newcastle. Suitably drawn, Mammals Riddle is poised to give plenty of cheek. OUR GIRL HARLOW (5) draws handily and stays under notice as an exotic contender, along with ITS ALL ABOUT ALICE (8) and ACOLTNAMEDSU (1).
REPARTEE 1, Sky Diamond 2, Huey Lewis 3, Mammals Riddle 4.
The KerryAnn Morris-conditioned BAILEYS KNIGHT (8) will take a power of beating, despite the presence of a back row draw. The Menangle-based 7yo has recorded a few solid performances at Headquarters of late and if he brings that form to this race, then the son of Christian Cullen should be greeting the judge. At his most recent assignment, which was a week ago, Baileys Knight hit the line strongly in recording a 3.2m 4th to the talented Victorian, Watch List. A repeat of that effort in this easier company would be enough to see Baileys Knight grabbing the 13th win of his career. BETTOR TO BE TRICKY (6) is also from Lucky Lodge and although the 7yo is coming off a well-beaten latest to stablemate Bronski Belle at Menangle last week, the 7yo is capable of a better showing, based on his handy form prior that effort. REDBELLY JACK (3) has been freshened since a 13.7m 6th to Bettor To Be Tricky at Menangle back in early January, and although his form may look patchy, the 7yo has the right draw and the talent to be in the mix for a long way so don’t ignore the 7yo as a potential threat. DAYS END (5) is a consistent type, particularly around this track, which is a plus, so include the veteran, who will stepping out for his 200th assignment, in multiple investments. MISS CIRIELLO (4), GROSESTAR (7) and GOLD REACTOR (9) also have claims in that regard.
BAILEYS KNIGHT 1, Bettor To Be Tricky 2, Redbelly Jack 3, Days End 4.
This is one of two races Clayton Harmey would like to have on his resume, the other being the Newcastle Mile, when it comes to a feature titles in his home region. And, with six of the 10 runners under his care, Harmey has bright prospects of ticking the Inter City Pace Final off his ‘bucket list’. All six have bright prospects, but it is MAJOR BOB (11) which looms as the one to beat following his impressive return to racing in his particular heat last Monday. Boasting 10 wins and three placings from just 23 assignments, Major Bob has always been highly-regarded, going back to the start of his career under the care of Shane Tritton. Spelled after a brave 6.3m 3rd to the classy Crunch Time at Newcastle last November, Major Bob overcame a similar back row draw in winning his heat, despite working three deep for the trip home. Down the running and the 4yo son of Art Major broke clear of the pack in greeting the judge with a 9m margin to spare over his nearest rivals, Bobsled Boy and Shadow Pass. Fitter for that outing, Major Bob will again take a power of beating. IM QUICK AS FIRE (2) is both a stablemate and a definite threat as the 6yo has drawn perfectly in two. After leading out in his heat, then taking a sit when pressured to hold the peg running, Im Quick As Fire was then eased to race outside of the leader. Despite his various roles in running, Im Quick As Fire had little trouble accounting for his rivals. Expect to see Im Quick As Fire again looking to ‘burn’ his rivals in the opening stages in occupying a favourable, forward role from the outset. The Michael Formosa trained and driven MILITARY MAN (4) looms as the main hurdle for ‘The Harmey Army’ to overcome. From his past five engagements the Art Major 4yo has won three while being placed twice. Resuming from a couple of months off, following a dominant win at Newcastle, Military Man led for most of the trip in saluting the judge in his heat. With the benefit of that run and a good draw, Military Man will again be a tough opponent. JOHNSON STEP (10) and a fitter BOBSLED BOY (7) are also under the care of Harmey and it will come as no surprise to see either one of them being involved in the finish.
MAJOR BOB 1, Im Quick As Fire 2, Military Man 3, Johnson Step 4.
In what looks to be a race of many chances, GHOSTLY COURAGE (7), despite his awkward starting role, is worthy of an investment. The Jake Mitchell-prepared son of Courage Under Fire after broke his maiden status 21 starts into his career when he scored over this course and distance by a dominant margin of 20.7m in defeating Corporal Jujon and Miss Social Media. On that occasion Ghostly Courage drew the inside of the back row. The 4yo ventured to Menangle last week for his latest challenge, and although never a serious threat in finishing a 13m 5th to harps, the run was still pleasing. CANT EXPLAIN IT (3) is coming off a gritty win at Newcastle and with the benefit of a good draw, another bold showing can be expected from the 10yo. CHRISTIAN BROTHER (6) has been thereabouts in a number of recent encounters and as he prepares for his 280th assignment, the 13yo is racing well enough to figure in the finish. OUR BUSHWACKER (8) has drawn the back row, but his form is good enough to stay under notice as a threat. Exotic players should also consider REDBANK OLIVIA (5) and BUCKLEDOWN BUDDY (9) when it comes to forming combinations.
GHOSTLY COURAGE 1, Cant Explain It 2, Christian Brother 3, Our Bushwacker 4.
Being associated with the winning post is something this field doesn’t enjoy being linked to, and as a result, it is a race of many chances. On the basis of a couple of improved efforts, the Clayton Harmey-trained FOREVER ROCKING (9) gains the nod. The 4yo mare drew gate one at Tamworth when last produced a week ago, and after being prominently placed from the outset, battled on stoutly in posting a solid 3.2m 3rd to Acoltnamedsu and Commanche. Despite going back to a back row draw, Forever Rocking should be involved in the finish. ALLAMBIE (8) will join Forever Rocking on the secind line, and although the mare has managed just one placing from her past six starts, she is capabe of a bold showing in this field. The 4yo ruined her chances with a poor start, en route to posting a useful 9.7m 5th to Miss Verstappen at Newcastle recently. A smoother beginner would have assisted her claims of being closer to the winner. MONEY HONEY (10) broke when a costly 8th at Canberra two starts ago, then again went off stride, this time at the start, when a well-beaten last to Titian Raider in a harder challenge at Menangle. If the mare remains focused from the outset, then expect a competitive showing. BLAZIN HEAVEN (1) has the chance to make her presence felt after drawing the pole. The likes of CLOUDIN UP (5), STUART (6) and CLASSIC ARC (7), all members of the Stacie Elliott stable, should be linked to exotic discussions.
FOREVER ROCKING 1, Allambie 2, Money Honey 3, Blazin Heaven 4.
This is the toughest race on the card and when you tip a horse that hasn’t won for four years, a state my case. CONNERMAN (3) is coming off a couple of improved efforts, the first being a 5.3m 4th to Arna at this venue while the latter was a solid 5.4m 2nd to Karaoke Rock, again at Maitland, just a week ago. Fitter for four runs back from a spell and drawing well, which is a plus, Connerman is worth the gamble. PARALLEL (8) debuted with a handy 1.4m 2nd to Im In Trouble at Canberra before galloping out and losing all chance when a 64m 7th to the classy Mister Rea in a heat of the Gold Chalice at Bathurst. From the powerful KerryAnn Morris stable, the Sportswriter youngster is bound to take a power of beating, despite the back row draw.
COZZAS GRIN (5) is coming off a vastly improved 20.7m 3rd to Sundowner Shannon, but further improvement will be required while ADVANCED WARFARE (4), despite being safely held of late, should find this challenge far more suitable so don’t write him off.
CONNERMAN 1, Parallel 2, Cozzas Grin 3, Advanced Warfare 4.