Following a stylish win last time out, it is hard to go past the Craig Cross-conditioned WRANGLER (6) as the one to beat in what would appear a suitable assignment, despite a number of definite threats. Rarely far away in the majority of his engagements these days, the son of Bettors Delight is making a habit of springing a surprise, the latest when he powered home in defeating his far more fancied stablemate Cash N Flow, along with Majordan, the latter responsible for the 1:48.8, courtesy of an opening quarter of 26.0, and solid sectionals from that point onwards. The same tempo is unlikely this time around, however, Wrangler is likely to again secure a ‘stalking role’, which will then allow the 6yo to again finish his work off strongly. LET IT RIDE (11) has drawn awkwardly out wide but the quality 6yo can’t be dismissed as a threat. There was a lot to like about the manner in which he found the line last week in finishing a closing 2.9m 3rd to stablemate, former Miracle Mile winner, My Field Marshal. Peaking in condition following three runs back, Let It Ride has the necessary talent to test this field. LITTLE RASCAL (10) will also be confronted by a wide gate, however, he is likely to enjoy coming with a late surge so the draw may not be a major concern. The 8yo was never a serious factor last start when a 4m 5th to Conviction a couple of weeks ago, but he did fine the line well ffrom a four-peg role and with clearer running is capable of taking this out. When forming exotic investments FRANCO LANDRY (5) must come in for some attention after his gallant 9.8m 4th to My Field Marshal a week ago. OUR WALL STREET WOLF (7) also has claims in the multiples, along with FLAMING FLUTTER (3) and GODS SPIRIT (1).
WRANGLER 1, Let It Ride 2, Little Rascal 3, Franco Landry 4.
CHRISTMAS TOYBOY (5) is worthy of another chance as the Craig Cross-trained son of Christian Cullen attempts to stage a ‘last-to-first’ form reversal, and, not for the first time as the gelding has done exactly that on a couple of occasions in more recent times. The last time he achieved such a result was in November, which sparked a hat-trick of wins. The 6yo then posted a couple of solid placings, the latter a creditable 14m 2nd behind stablemate, Bright Energy. Christmas Toyboy then started a $51 chance when left facing the breeze when a tiring 38.4m last to the classy Balraj in a time of 1:49.9. Under the circumstances that is a ‘forgive and forget’ display with this assignment bound to be more to his liking, with the good draw being an added bonus. ROYAL LINCOLN (11) has done a good job since campaigning at Menangle for the past month, with the Queenslander coming off a solid head 3rd to Colossal Stride last week. The draw will present him with a tricky assignment, however, trainer-driver Jacob Wallace may allow the 5yo to play the ‘waiting game’ and come with a late surge. The Grant Dixon team have been enjoying some success in recent weeks with PATERNITY SUIT (2) scoring four starts ago, prior to a few unplaced efforts. The latest, a 9m 7th to Colossal Stride was acceptable after working home soundly after being held up from a four-peg role. Ideally drawn, the 6yo will occupy a suitable role and should be a threat in this company. THE ANNOUNCER (3) returns to a suitable contest after a solid 7.2m 7th to Conviction a couple of weeks ago he came from five back on the pegs in doing so, after being held up for a suitable run in the process. Prior to that run the 6yo had been a reliable performer, collecting a win and three placings. Gate three will see trainer-driver Dean Cernovskis put the son of Badlands Hanover in the firing line from the outset. When it comes to forming exotic transactions MACH EASY (4) must be included after his return to winning form last week while IM THE DIRECTOR (7) and IM FEELING FIREY (6) also stay under notice.
CHRISTMAS TOYBOY 1, Royal Lincoln 2, Patenity Suit 3, The Announcer 4.
Former Victorian MARAETAI (2) was responsible for a gritty display last week when first-up from a break and for new mentor James Rattray. Swiftly away in securing a kind run behind the leader, the 5yo remained in that role before joining Cant Refuse on the home turn, only to fall victim to Match In Heaven, who was able to stalk the other pair for the majority of the 2300m. Maraetai battled on stoutly and while stripping fitter, the son of Somebeachsomewhere will also enjoy gate two, which will again see him in the thick of the action from the outset. Placed in each of his past three encounters RAYS CHOICE (3) will again dictate the terms from his ideal draw. The speedy, Narelle McCarthy-conditioned 7yo has led and fought on bravely in races won by Spare Me Days, Double Encounter and Conviction, the latest when beaten a head in finishing third. Once again, Rays Choice will prove hard to run down so respect his claims. CANT REFUSE (6) had every chance to post his first win for the Cross stable last week since coming from Victorian, only to find Match In Heaven and Maraetai a shade too strong. Placed in three of his four assignments since making the move north, Cant Refuse will again make his presence felt. DOUBLE ENCOUNTER (8) is capable of again being the ‘knock-out’ runner, which was the case three starts ago when he snuck home to defeat Rays Choice. The Harry Martin-trained 6yo hasn’t been disgraced in two runs since, the latter a sound 11.8m 6th to My Field Marshal last week. This type of assignment will be more to his liking. Exotic investors should also consider ROCKNROLL ANGEL (9) and JACK FARTHING (11).
MARAETAI 1, Rays Choice 2, Cant Refuse 3, Double Encounter 4.
A tough and open race for the mares, with the Grant Dixon trained and driven AQUA MISS (6) worthy of attention in what should be a suitable challenge for this quality daughter of Bettors Delight. The mare managed to dictate the terms in scoring here three runs back and has performed soundly since, with a useful 11.2m 7th to Ideal Star, followed by a solid-finishing 3m 3rd to Bohannan last week. Courtesy of her suitable draw in the middle of the line, Aqua Miss should take up a forward role in giving this a big shake. With the benefit of one run back from a spell, locally prepared mare BRONSKI BELLE (7) should be ready to make an impression. The 5yo drew wide when restrained in securing a four-peg role, en route to closing nicely for a creditable 9.7m 5th to Fame Assured last week. Bronski Belle rarely runs a bad race in this type of challenge and must be regarded highly. SHE ENVY (4) was safely held in a trial here on Monday in readiness for her return after a sound 8.2m 5th to Tact Maggie back on Dec 14. A more than useful type, the mare hit the line well in scoring prior to her latest assignment and she is worthy of plenty of attention, especially from her good starting position. ART SERIES (9) strips fitter for three runs back and although the mare has been below the high standard set during previous seasons, she is worth another chance when it comes to forming multiple investments. IDEAL BREEZE (1) has drawn ideally in one and is coming off a couple of stylish wins. Although confronted by a harder test, the 6yo daughter of American Ideal must be included in exotic transactions while ITS MESMERISE (2) and MY RUEBE STAR (3) also have claims in that regard.
AQUA MISS 1, Brosnki Belle 2, She Envy 3, Art Series 4.
Half-way through the card and the ‘big guns’ come out to play in readiness for the upcoming feature races during the carnival, with the NSW Oaks the race in question. DR SUSAN (11) and STYLISH MEMPHIS (10), two exciting fillies from across the ‘ditch’ will again clash after the pair went ‘head-to-head’ in the Victorian Oaks a couple of weeks ago at Melton. Taking full advantage of her vastly better draw, and an astute Anthony Butt drive, Dr Susan led for most of the trip in accounting for a brave Stylish Memphis, who drew the back row and worked, as a result. The margin was a convincing 4.4m, but, probably not a true indication of the effort of the runner-up. With both exciting fillies drawing nearer the car park than the pegs, it will be an intriguing early battle for supremacy and although Dr Susan has the outside gate, she remains the one to beat again. The filly did a chance to shake of the ‘cobwebs’ with a comfortable trial outing here on Monday. Both fillies are of the highest quality and an exciting contest will unfold. However, if the two major players decide to race each other from the outset, don’t be surprised if the local star in VINCENZINA (9) has a say in the outcome. The filly has been astutely prepared by Ross Adams, who also has the driving responsibilities. The filly did a big job when she finished strongly in recording a head 2nd to Dr Susan in the G2 Raith Memorial on Jan 11, her first run since late June. Vincenzina has won her two subsequent starts in fine style and is nearing peak fitness for this assignment, and the Oaks. Vincenzina will enjoy a solid tempo, allowing Adams to unleash her powerful sprint on sighting the winning post. If close enough, Vincenzina is good enough to spring an upset. With the top three providing the foundation for multiple investments the likes of TINGIRINGI (5), SMOOTH STYLE (4), OPERATIVE ANNA (2) and KEZZMAC (1) will have their own ‘in-race’ battle for the final exotic spot on offer.
DR SUSAN 1, Stylish Memphis 2, Vincenzina 3, Tingiringi 4.
Ideally drawn in gate one, which is less the reserve, and showing a return to top form, IGNATIUS (2) will be looking to keep his name in Miracle Mile discussions by collecting the 20th win of his stellar career. Resuming with three unplaced, but nice efforts, the 5yo continued to build towards a win, and that occured on Jan 11 when he led throughout in defeating King Of Swing and Jack Farthing. The form has certainly been highlighted, courtesy of the runner-up coming out and brilliantly winning the Hunter Cup last week. Over the mile trip, Rattray will be looking to secure the ideal trip behind Majordan, who is bound to take up his favoured role, that of dictator. That will give Ignatius the last shot at the winning post. MAJORDAN (8) also strikes a higher level of fitness following three runs back, the past couple when placed third behind Wrangler and King Of Swing, respectively. With Majordan you know what to expect from the noted speedster, who always gives a big sight, however, due to his racing pattern, the 7yo is always left vulnerable and there is always a smart opponent stalking him, ready to pounce. HAIL CHRISTIAN (11) is a class-act who performed well below his best last week, although he did find some trouble along the way. Still he was a shade disappointing. After a couple of stylish wins, the Kiwi drew wide and was never a factor in recording a 14.5m 8th to My Field Marshal. While the draw is a hurdle, Hail Christian is bound to bounce back strongly so definitely respect his winning prospects. THE BLACK PRINCE (7) has trialled well and looks ready to commence his latest term of racing on a bright note so don’t write him off as the 5yo certainly has the ability. Exotic investments should include LOORRIM CREEK (6), who has trialled nicely, BAD BILLY (10), PAY ME SAM (3) and POCKET OF TERROR (4).
IGNATIUS 1, Majordan 2, Hail Christian 3, The Black Prince 4.
The G2 Hondo Grattan is an important ‘stepping stone’ towards greater honours, such as the Chariots Of Fire and the Miracle Mile. The collection of 4yo’s, which have come together for this edition, will ensure they figure highly in those elite events. Leading the way is one ‘star’ of the All Star team in SELF ASSURED. Under the astute care of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Self Assured has been exactly that throughout his brief, 12-start career, which has resulted in eight wins and four placings, three as runner-up, the past couple on this side of the Tasman. Brave in defeat when a 1.3m 2nd to A Gs White Socks in the 2710m Ballarat Cup on Jan 18, following a back-row draw and a tough three wide trip home, the exciting 4yo son of Bettors Delight then fell victim to a brilliant performance by Lochinvar Art, and an equally brilliant drive by David Moran, in the 4YO Bonanza at Melton two weeks ago. Expected to win both those assignments, Self Assured will be looking to stamp his authority on this race and confirm his place at the top of the pecking order once again. BALRAJ (10) is the emerging ‘x-factor’ on the ‘big time’ as the 4yo steps out for his first assignment since coming under the care of KerryAnn Morris. However, Robert Morris has been a regular feature in the ‘bike’ so the son of Art Major will feel at home in his new surroundings, Balraj has been devastating since a spell, winning his three assignments with ease and, with little respect for his rivals. A natural-born leader, Balraj will be confronted by a far more difficult and intriguing assignment, If, he can pass this test, with the likes of Self Assured and noted classy performers in MAX DELIGHT (12) and DEMON DELIGHT (11) breathing down his neck, then the ‘big’ money awaits him. Both MAX DELIGHT (12) and DEMON DELIGHT (11) are starting to find peak fitness, and although the pair were well-beaten in the 4YO Bonanza, they have plenty of credits in the bank. Both are more than capable of springing back to their best so don’t take them lightly. It will be hard for the balance of the field to squeeze the main players out of the exotic roles, with ROCKIN MARTY (7), who did a big job in finishing a strong 7.8m 5th to King Of Swing in a G3 event when resuming from a spell, the one most likely to do so. The talented Victorian, SUPREME DOMINATOR (4) also has claims in that department.
SELF ASSURED 1, Balraj 2, Max Delight 3, Demon Delight 4.
Numerous chances in this event and although confronted by a tough draw, the gritty DANCE FOR GLORY (11) is worthy of attention as the son of Artsplace rarely leaves the track without giving an honest performance. Following a Queensland campaign, which culminated in a win at AP on Dec 21, the 6yo has returned to home base with one placing and three unplaced, but sound efforts, the latest when he worked, en route to a creditable 6.4m 5th to Colossal Stride last week. That is a typical display by the gelding, who is usually called upon to overcome a wide gate in forcing the issue. In this field that may be good enough to see him home. His stablemate, KLEENED OUT (1) has the big advantage of gate one, with the 7yo also coming off three placed efforts, all costly as he was highly fancied, the latest when a 3.7m 3rd to Macheasy a week ago. However, from the pole the gelding will have options, either to dictate or take cover, either way, Kleened Out is capable of playing an active role in the finish. BOHANNAN (2) surprised the majority with his solid win over Zhukov Leis and Aqua Miss last week, but from another suitable draw the 6yo is again capable of making his presence felt. ZADAKA (7) is coming off a solid 2nd to Arma The Gun and is also capable of being involved in the finish. Multiple investors should consider including BRADS LUCK (3), RUTHLESS ARMBRO (4), DIKERRY (9) and SCOOB OPERATOR (10) in their discussions.
DANCE FOR GLORY 1, Kleened Out 2, Bohannan 3, Zadaka 4.
A recent addition to the Lucky Lodge team, talented mare ELLE YEAH (1) indicated a win for her new stable was just around the corner, following a tidy debut run last week. Resuming with a couple of useful runs at Goulburn, although unplaced in each occasion, the former Dennis Picker-trained daughter of Always A Virgin recorded a solid 3.5m 3rd to Fame Assured last week, with the 6yo a shade unlucky in the run home after racing three pegs. From the pole Elle Yeah is bound to be prominently placed and that will be a big plus in this company. Less the reserve and MONGOLIAN ARCHER (4) will face the starter from gate three. The 7yo has had some time off since a sound and slightly unlucky 3.5m 3rd behind The Bettormack and Ellmers Image a couple of months ago. Fresh, talented and with a good draw, Mongolian Archer is on target for another bold showing for the ‘high flying’ Craig Cross stable. EXPRESSIONIST (5) had been thereabouts in each of his three runs back from a spell in this type of assignment, prior to enjoying an easier challenge when successful at Newcastle last week. Hitting peak condition the 10yo is capable of giving this a shake at odds. UNDER WORKED (2) doesn’t win out of turn these days, but he is also rarely far away when it comes to being competitive and he must be included when forming multiple combinations. MISTERFREEZE (8), SALTY ROBYN (11) and LUCKY LOMBO (9) could also add value to the dividend.
ELLE YEAH 1, Mongolian Archer 2, Expressionist 3, Under Worked 4.
This is a race where the winner looks well concealed, and although she hasn’t been at the top of her game, CALLMEQUEENBEE (8) is worth another chance in a tough race. Always in the market these days, the mare posted a couple of gritty placings at this venue, and in similar type events, prior to a 5.9m 6th to Chevrons Reward two weeks ago after appearing to have every chance. Despite drawing wide and struggling to greet the judge since last June, Callmequeenbee is capable of being a major player once again. CHEVRONS REWARD (7) followed a strong win in a similar race here two starts ago, with a 5.6m 3rd to Doubledelightbrigade at Newcastle last week, with the mare coming from well back in proceedings in what was an eye-catching run. Expect to see the mare playing a big role in the finish. ISLAND BANNER (10) has a tough draw to overcome but certainly has the ability to do so and, that entitles the consistent 5yo to further attention. DRIVE THE DREAM (2) showed a return to form last week with a late finishing surge along the pegs in grabbing a 3.4m 2nd to Macheasy. On that run the 8yo is worthy of keeping safe, especially when it comes to the exotics. Others to consider in that regard include GOTTA BE DOWNTOWN (3), SCARLET BABE (4), VOLANDO DENARIO (5) and IMMORTAL CHANGE (1).
CALLMEQUEENBEE 1, Chevrons Reward 2, Island Banner 3, Drive The Dream 4.
A 2300m stand awaits the trotters to wrap up the meeting and, as per usual, the reliable MONARO MIA (10) will give her supporters a great sight. Boasting six wins and three placings from her 14 assignments under these conditions, the 5yo is coming off a 14.6m 5th to Glenferrie Typhoon in a mobile challenge a couple of weeks ago. The mare has a 20m hcp to overcome, however, courtesy of being a safe beginner from behind the tapes, that shouldn’t be a major concern in this field. KOWHAI MONARCH (9) also has a fine record in stand events, with his latest win posted in a similar race four starts ago. The 8yo hasn’t been disgraced in three subsequent mobile events, the latest a solid and slightly unlucky 1.8m 2nd to Glenferrie Typhoon. Expect him to give this a shake, despite the 20m hcp. HOTJANE BLING (8) can be ‘hit and miss’ under stand conditions these days, but the mare stays under notice as a threat, with a narrow trial win here on Monday topping her off nicely for her first outing in nearly two months. FLINGANDWINGIT (4) has more ability than most in this race, and, he has been impressive winning both his runs from a spell for his new mentor Craig Cross. However, the 4yo has also been unplaced in both stand starts to date, but the Cobbitty mentor has no doubt been working on that weakness. If, Flingandwingit does step on level terms with his rivals, then, this race looks his for the taking. GLENFERRIE TYPHOON (12) has a tough 30m hcp to overcome and he did fail badly in his last stand assignment back in mid-November. His past two runs have been hard to fault so keep the veteran safe in exotic combinations. GOLD SOVEREIGN (6), EMPIRE BAY (11) and KYLIES LIFE (5), who is backing up from Tuesday assignment, also have exotic prospects.
MONARO MIA 1, Kowhai Monarch 2, Hotjane Bling 3, Flingandwingit 4.