Unbeaten since resuming from a spell, the Belinda McCarthy-conditioned ROCKOKOKO (7) will contest his toughest assignment this time in, however, the American Ideal colt remains the one to beat. After heading to the paddock following a creditable 7.2m 5th to Catalpa Rescue in a heat of the NSW Derby in late February, Rockokoko resumed with an effortless win over Il Bandito, which has won twice since, and the consistent Gentle Giant. The 3yo then dictated the terms from start to finish a few weeks ago when he justified his nods-on quote in defeating Brookssmartdancer and Outside Fighter. Reserve out and gate six will be the starting position for Rockokoko and, with talent drawn inside, the pathway to success won’t be easy, but Luke McCarthy will again be keen to have the stable representative in a dominating role from the outset. With the Rickie Alchin stable enjoying plenty of success of late, IL BANDITO (1) will be looking to continue his winning run. The son of Art Major has wins either side of a 10th to Ourmatemenko at Shepparton on May 7, when the 3yo chocked down. The 3yo bounced back strongly just 11 days later, courtesy of a stylish win over King Of Hearts and Katastrtophee at Penrith. Drawing the pole position is a big plus as that should ensure that Il Bandito is in a challenging role from the outset. DON HUGO (6) was responsible for a determined effort in the APG 3YO Bullion Final for the 3YO C&G’s on April 29, when he drew wide, resulting in the role outside of the leader. The end result was a 3.6m 2nd behind stablemate, Sweetheart Bart. Don Hugo was again left facing the breeze at his next challenge, but this time around the easier task allowed the colt to for account for Loui and Brookssmartdancer. Trainer Jarrod Alchin and driver Cam Hart will combine with MY ULTIMATE CARTER (4), the winner of four of his seven starts while also finishing runner-up twice. The son of Captaintreacherous recorded his only unplaced effort in the Simpson Memorial back on January 28, with the sparingly-raced colt finishing a 13.3m 6th to the exciting Queensland prospect, Sure Thing Captain. Back in action at Penrith a couple of weeks ago, My Ultimate Carter had little trouble accounting for Kingofglitter and Bettor Be Lucky. Extra fitness and a suitable draw should result in My Ultimate Carter being involved in the finish. The ‘x-factor’ is the Jackson Painting trained and driven MEET ME AT THE BEACH (2), who has had four runs for the Narrandera-based stable. The former Kiwi followed a solid, first-up 2nd to Sugarpova with a couple of easy Wagga wins, prior to making the trip to Cobram on May 11. Confronted by a harder test, the 3yo daughter of Downbytheseaside was never a serious factor in posting a 21m 6th to the talented Louie Lou I. Gate two is a big plus, which should enable Jackson to secure a kind run behind the speed. The filly should at least be considered by exotic players. ROCKNROLL GIG (10) has always been a better than average performer and with recent wins at Penrith and Newcastle, respectively, the son of A Rocknroll Dance, despite drawing wide, is also a chance when it comes to the multiples.
ROCKOKOKO 1, Il Bandito 2, Don Hugo 3, My Ultimate Carter 4.
With a number of outstanding chances on the eight-event card, Belinda and Luke McCarthy will be looking to secure an early double, with THREE RIVERS (7) appearing to be one of their better chances. The Gold Ace 5yo has been in fine form since making the move from Queensland, with a couple of wins and a gritty, last-start photo 2nd behind the classy Speak The Truth coming his way. Enjoying the one-one last time out, Three Rivers tried hard to run down the Shannon Price-trained star, and although drawing wider for this challenge, the slightly easier assignment should help off-set that hurdle. DOUBLE ACT (3) will loom as a definite threat, providing the talented son of Heston Blue Chip remains focused from the outset. Following a solid 1.6m 2nd behind Romanee, the Harry Martin-trained 5yo then galloped out before making up the lost metres in racing, seven back along the pegs before four pegs on the home turn. The end result was a handy 7.4m 7th behind Chevron Art a week ago. Drawing ideally in three, Double Act is more than capable of greeting the judge. From gate one KING TIGER (1) can’t be taken lightly after the 4yo son of former great Tiger Tara finished an unlucky 8.9m 4th to the classy Cantfindabettorman a month ago. Peaking in condition following three runs this term, King Tiger will be there to pounce when the opportunity arises. The consistent Darren Binskin trained and driven TUPPENCE (5) followed a win, when he shared the top spot with Chevron Art, with a solid 3m 5th to that particular runner a week ago. The 5yo was hitting the line with intent, so don’t ignore his winning claims. Exotic investments should also include WESTERN STYLE (4), ROBBIE ROCKET (6) and last-start Newcastle winner, MAJOR BOB (2).
THREE RIVERS 1, Double Act 2, King Tiger 3, Tuppence 4.
Boasting a hat-trick of wins next to his name, the latest over this course and distance, the Bernie Hewitt trained and driven ALWAYS THUNDER (5) is ready to strike again after drawing four, which is less the reserve, the same marble he had when successful a few weeks ago. The 5yo has managed to take control of each his three wins from the outset, with Bernie dictating the terms to perfection, and, on three different tracks, commencing with Goulburn, then Bathurst before the pair greeted the judge at Headquarters, with Has The Courage and Saint Julien fighting out the minors. The prospect of again setting the tempo will certainly go a long way towards Always Thunder stretching his winning sequence. JOHNSON STEP (4) has drawn well in three, and although he doesn’t win out of turn, the Clayton Harmey-trained 7yo will be looking to make it, rare back-to-back wins after a narrow defeat of Stick Man, which won in fine fashion at Newcastle on Monday, and Laceys Lad at that same venue a few weeks ago. The prospect of securing a kind run behind the speed, courtesy of Grace Panella, the son of American Ideal is capable of being involved in the finish. CARLO GAMBINO (6) has been thereabouts in his past six starts, following consecutive wins at Penrith in March. The Chris Judd-trained 9yo has drawn the back row for his past three assignments, twice at Penrith and again at Bathurst, so the handy draw this time around will be a plus. The lightly-raced son of Mach Three is coming off a useful 10.6m 7th to Yankee Ideal at Penrith and with star reinsman Cam Hart taking the reins, Carlo Gambino should be at the very least, warrant attention as an exotic player. Others to consider in that regard include STICK MAN (2), HAS THE COURAGE (3), SMOOTH OVERARM (8) and THATS ART (11), which caught the eye with a fast-finishing 2nd behind Jalaneel a week ago.
ALWAYS THUNDER 1, Johnson Step 2, Carlo Gambino 3, Has The Courage 4.
Despite the presence of a second-line draw, SOHO RHAPSODY (10) is capable of securing the seventh win of her career. Without a winning performance since scoring at Cranbourne last November, the classy daughter of American Ideal has managed just three placings in her subsequent eight starts, but her latest run a week ago, indicated that the Rickie Alchin trained and driven mare was ready to pay the winner’s circle another visit. The winner of the 2020 G1 Gold Chalice at Bathurst came from a rearward role, courtesy of again drawing the back row, when a closing 2.3m 4th to all-the-way winner, Gordons Bay. With her main danger, MUSCLE BART (9) also drawing the back line, but in a tricky spot, Soho Rhapsody will have the chance to sneak through at the start in the hope of securing a role closer to the action, compared to last week. In what should be a suitable assignment, the mare will play a big role in the finish. MUSCLE BART (9) will launch his claim from the inside of the back, which was the situation last week. After being four pegs, Luke McCarthy seized the opportunity to leave the markers at the first opportunity, which resulted in the Belinda McCarthy-trained son of Shadow Play competing from the role outside of the leader and eventual winner, Gordons Bay. The classy 4yo will strip fitter following two runs back after heading to the paddock after his 16m 6th to Heza Son Of Agun in the G3 Paleface Adios at Headquarters on Feb 11. SAINT CRUSADER (1) followed a couple of well-beaten efforts with a solid-finishing win at Newcastle, prior to drawing the back row when well-back in proceedings, en route to a fast-finishing 5.2m 5th to Metallica Man, again on his home track. The Clayton Harmey-prepared son of Courage Under Fire has always display plenty of talent and from the pole position, Grace Panella should have him competing from a role close to the action. Rickie Alchin will also be represented by JOE THE BOOKIE (12), and like his stablemate, the son of Roll With Joe will face the starter from the back row. Driven by star Kiwi Josh Dickie last week, Joe The Bookie managed to compete from the one-one when a solid 5.8m 6th to Gordons Bay. Resuming with a win at Newcastle, following a Bendigo win back in late December, Joe The Bookie then finished a determined runner-up behind Muscle Bart and, courtesy of those three outings, the 4yo will be hitting peak fitness for this assignment. When forming multiple transactions, BARRATT (3) and CHAP DADDY (13) could assist in adding value to the dividends.
SOHO RHAPSODY 1, Muscle Bart 2, Saint Crusader 3, Joe The Bookie 4.
Multiple G1 winning trainer-driver James Rattray will be looking to celebrate another major title win, this time as a father for the first time, when he attempts to take out the TAB State Regional Championship. Still on ‘cloud nine’ following the birth of daughter Estelle with his partner Fiona, James will combine with his highly-regarded 5yo, GORDONS BAY (6), the winner of nine of his 38-starts, while collecting a further nine placings. The son of Captaintreacherous has won his past two, both at this venue, with James dictating the terms on each occasion. In qualifying this event, Gordons Bay enjoyed a sedate opening to his latest assignment, enjoying a 31.5 opening quarter, then a 30.7 second 400m. That paved the way for the 5yo to put his rivals under pressure, courtesy of a 27.1 third split before wrapping up proceedings in a 27.9 sprint to the line. With one of his main rivals in He Aint Fakin already coming out of the race, Gordons Bay will have a slightly better draw assisting his claims. Drawing ideally in two is the main threat to Gordons Bay. Prepared by Ellen Bartley and to be driven by the in-form Blake Jones, BROOKLYN BRIDGE (2) has been in superb form of late, with the son of Sweet Lou heading to Headquarters as the winner of his past three starts, all with a high degree of authority. Boasting seven wins and a second from a mere 10 trips to the races, the 4yo won the Riverina Championship with the minimum of fuss, with Blake dictating the terms for the majority of the 2270m contest, leaving Louthario and Oratoria to fill the minors. From his ideal draw, Blake will have the opportunity to hold the inside running, or at the very least, stalk Gordons Bay before attempting to run him down at some stage of the 360m Menangle straight. ED MENDES (13) has a back row draw to overcome, however, honest as the day is long, the Peter Rixon-trained son of Lincoln Royal is capable of springing an upset. Starting at big odds a week ago, which will again be the case, Ed Mendes hit the line strongly in coming from a four peg role to record a pleasing 2.2m 3rd to Gordons Bay. Ellen Rixon will again be looking to secure a cosy run with the 5yo, leaving him with the energy required to be in the mix when the judge calls a halt. PATSY VALETINE (12) is also a model of consistency and the Alex Alchin-trained mare, like Ed Mendes, is capable of being in the mix when the judge calls a halt. Due for a change of luck after being runner-up in five of her past six starts, the daughter of American Ideal was able to secure a kind run behind Gordons Bay last time out, prior to making a late surge in finishing a neck away. A harder task awaits, due to the back row, but Patsy Valentine can’t be ignored. There are a number of chances when it comes to the multiples, including the Amanda Turnbull pair, IAM THE CAPTAIN (7) and ALTA BILLY (11), with Isobel Ross and Jack Callaghan, respectively, engaged to handle the driving duties.
GORDONS BAY 1, Brooklyn Bridge 2, Ed Mendes 3, Patsy Valentine 4.
This race will highlight the card with the powerful Jason Grimson stable taking on the might of the Belinda McCarthy team. The headline acts are BONDI LOCKDOWN (10) and BETTERZIPPIT (11), with the latter back in action after taking out the inaugural running of the $1m Nullarbor at Gloucester Park on April 14. The pair will occupy the two outside gates, and although BONDI LOCKDOWN (10) will face the starter with a fitness advantage, BETTERZIPPIT (11) gets the nod, but only just. The winner of six of his past seven starts, the 5yo gave Cam Hart a ‘good feeling’, according to the star reinsman when he jumped into the sulky for a hit-out last Saturday. Versatile in his racing pattern, the draw is tricky, but the son of Betterthancheddar has the gate speed to be a factor from the outset, or, there is always Plan B. And, that will result in Betterzippit being saved for one charge to the finish line. BONDI LOCKDOWN resumed from a spell in defeating Alta Orlando and Jay OK in the Coronation Cup on May 6. Despite being left posted three wide, then into the role outside of the leader, the classy son of Somebeachsomewhere continued to find the line in a committed fashion and that fitness edge may prove vital when ‘push comes to shove’. The pair look to be the major players, but there is a strong support cast, with the Jason Grimson pair, ABOUTTIME (7) and FIRE FOX (6) ready to pounce if the opportunity arises. Abouttime is coming off a 12.9m 3rd to Izaha in the Wagga Pacers Cup on Apirl 8, while FIRE FOX (6) was game in defeat when a 5.5m 3rd to Expensive Ego a couple of weeks ago. Cam has been driving both and was full of praise for Fire Fox’s effort and added that if is capable of being in the mix. The return to racing of MAHOMES (9) adds further interest as the classy son of Tintin In America steps out for the first time under the astute care of Jack Trainor. The 4yo has been off the scene since a 15m 6th to Catch A Wave in the Chariots of Fire back on Feb 18. However, a solid trial has Mahomes ready to give a good account, at least as an exotic player. BUNDORAN (5) has raced since a 7.7m 6th to Sicario in the Bathurst Mayors Cup on March 25, with a sound trial hit-out on his home track earlier in the week, good enough to keep him in the multiple mix.
BETTERZIPPIT 1, Bondi Lockdown 2, Abouttime 3, Mahomes 4.
With the benefit of a pleasing return, although costly, a week ago, ANNA LOVE (8) is capable of greeting the judge. Back in action after scoring at Headquarters on April 1, the talented daughter of Terror To Love started favourite in a stronger race last week. Settling back in the field, the Brad Hewitt trained and driven mare worked home stoutly over the final 200m, which resulted in a closing 6m 4th to Polly Put Kettleon. Anna Love has drawn wider for this challenge, but she has won in various roles, and coming from off the pace is one of them. Jason Grimson will provide the two main dangers in TIN TIN JO (5), which will be driven by Cam Hart, and JO AN JO (11), with Jack Trainor taking the reins. Following a determined win at Menangle, Tin Tin Jo then tackled the Canberra Cup a couple of weeks back, with the filly starting starting. Dictating the terms, Tin Tin Jo battled on stoutly, but was unable to repel the challenge of Im Presi Belle, resulting in a 3.5m second. Suitably drawn, Tin Tin Jo will occupy a forward role from the outset. JO AN JO is coming off a gritty, narrow win at Bathurst, and although the draw is a concern, the Bettors Delight mare will loom as a threat when the home straight comes into play. COVER GIRL (7) was left facing the breeze when a creditable 8.2m 4th to Teagan Banner recently. The Belinda McCarthy-trained mare is rarely far away and another competitive showing is bound to be forthcoming. Exotic investors should include PAINTMEREASON (2), which has drawn ideally, and SWELL TIME (9), despite the mare drawing wide.
ANNA LOVE 1, Tin Tin Jo 2, Jo An Jo 3, Cover Girl 4.
The wide number next to ROCKET BOY (9) shouldn’t deter punters as the Joe Conolly-trained son of Art Major is on the launching pad and ready to greet the judge. That scenario played out four runs back when Rocket Boy powered home in defeating Aalesund and Carlo Gambino, prior to posting a creditable 8.5m 8th to Tin Tin Jo when he drew deep. The 5yo put the writing on the wall that another winning display was on the horizon when he led when a gritty 3.4m 2nd to Romanee, which has won since, prior to again filling the runner-up role behind the highly-regarded Heaven On High last week, with the gelding charging home from a rearward role. Seaton Grima is again likely to drive Rocket Boy in a rearward role, but the pair are capable of going one better this time around. ARDENS ACE (8) has drawn just spot better than Rocket Boy, however, the Tony Bertwistle-conditioned 5yo is has the gate speed to again be prominently placed from the outset. Starting from a similar draw last week, Ardens Ace sped across the face of the field, with Darren Binskin finding the pegs before taking a sit. Battling on stoutly, the son of Art Major posted a solid 4m 4th to Heaven on High. With his past eight engagements all resulting in competitive displays, Ardens Ace is capable of coming up ‘trumps’. LOUBOWSKI (10) resumed with a disappointing 15.9m 7th to Elektra a couple of weeks ago, however, the Brad Hewitt-trained and driven daughter of Sweet Lou is capable of a far better showing with that run under her belt. Contesting five races when last in work, Loubowski created a big impression in winning four while finishing second to Punt Away, beaten a nose, on the other occasion. The 4yo mare is entitled to another chance. JALANEEL (5) is coming off an easy win here last week in what was an improved effort on his previous run. Trained and driven by Blake Fitzpatrick, the 4yo son of Heston Blue Chip is capable of continuing the good work, now that his confidence has been restored. CHEVRONS BYPASS (7) also posted a vastly improved run last week in recording a 1.3m 2nd to Polly Put Kettleon. The Narelle McCarthy-trained mare should be included in exotic investments, along with HE BETTOR STEP ASIDE (6) and TIMELY SOVEREIGN (2).
ROCKET BOY 1, Ardens Ace 2, Loubowski 3, Jalaneel 4.