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Race 1 – 1:32PM RYDE BUILDING HANDICAP (2100 METRES)
GAUGED has been knocking on the door recently and should get his chance in this small field. Has placed three times in this grade in the Great Southern this campaign and although he is rising to 60kg stepping up over 2100 metres, this is unlikely to be a high-pressure affair, and Peter Knuckey should conserve early and save him up for one run late. A thinking Mitchell Pateman ride saw 10-year-old TONED upset Gauged at Mt Barker last start and this small field promises to be a battle of tactics again. No doubt Pateman will have him rolling again, and try and make it into a staying test. Thought CARALABEK worked home okay late third up for his new stable last start and he should be ready to show something stepping up to a middle distance. Well in with 55.5kg and he looks a likely improver, while likely leader BOOMNBUST was gassed chasing a tearaway leader at Ascot last time and the run wasn’t too bad under the circumstances.
Suggested: 1. GAUGED win.
Race 2 – 2:12PM REPTILE HAVEN MAIDEN (1050 METRES)
Wide-open All Aged Maiden and with low confidence opted to side with HORAAN each way. Settled leader’s back when resuming at Esperance 15/12 and boxed on quite well in what was one of the faster races on the day. Should be able to find a similar running position from another low draw and very few ride the Albany circuit better than Mitchell Pateman, so the jockey change is a major positive. Expecting first-upper DANEHILL STORM to foll across from her high draw to either lead or race outside leader. Was sharpened up for this with a solid Lark Hill trial hit out and her formlines stack up very well against this line up. MORGS FREEMAN is the best horse in this race, however, his recent first-up performance was most disappointing as a $1.95 favourite. Expecting him to bounce back, but hard being too bullish after his latest result, while we wouldn’t be surprised to see first-upper WOTZ THE CHANCE run a race. Lead-up trial was good and she should enjoy a suitable on-pace run from a low draw with Peter Knuckey in the saddle.
Suggested: 1. DANEHILL STORM each way.
1. DANEHILL STORM
4. MORGS FREEMAN
9. WOTZ THE CHANCE
*Numbers amended after scratchings.
Race 3 – 2:49PM AQUA ICE MAIDEN (1500 METRES)
This does look the right race for TEXAN BLITZ to break through. Has been most competitive at his three Albany outings this prep and is a little stiff not to have recorded a maiden win before now. Tried hard but couldn’t quite get over the top of $1.55 favourite Tribute To Glory in a similar race to this last Friday week, and the Steve Wolfe stable have opted to put the blinkers back on, which should help extract a length of two. With even luck in running, Texan Blitz should be saluting. PUSKAS comes through the same race as Texan Blitz and was forced to work three wide throughout. Did a god job to box on that day and is likely to enjoy a much smoother passage in transit from a better draw. ORASKY was well fancied ($3.70) at Esperance 15/12, but was unable to slot in and travelled three-wide without cover throughout. Fought it out well under the circumstances and she’s another who maps to advantage from a low draw, while stablemate THE VAMPIRE finished alongside Orasky last start, and is expected to drift back and work home late.
Suggested: 5. TEXAN BLITZ win.
5. TEXAN BLITZ
3. THE VAMPIRE
Race 4 – 3:25PM USG BORAL HANDICAP (1500 METRES)
Anticipating sharp improvement from PRIX D’EXCELLENCE back on her home track. Competed well enough when resuming in the Regional Championships Heat first up, before leading up some high-quality mares in the listed Jungle Dawn Classic at Ascot 8/12 and puncturing late. She’s much better than what she showed in black-type company last start, and we’re expecting a fitter Prix D’Excellence to roll to the front from her high draw and give them something to catch. JESTER ROCK has been working his way towards peak form and he boxed on well behind in-form stablemate Wild Fusion in a similar event to this last Friday week. Drawn to enjoy a soft run in transit and should get him chance. ROWIE held his own in a competitive Ratings 70+ line up over this track/distance last time, and no surprise to see him come across from the high draw and race on-speed. Should be at peak fitness now, while WAR KSAR is consistently slow away these days, but if he’s within striking distance on the turn, he has the closing speed to make things very interesting late.
Suggested: 5. PRIX D’EXCELLENCE each way.
5. PRIX D’EXCELLENCE
7. JESTER ROCK
4. WAR KSAR
Race 5 – 4:00PM TABTOUCH – BETTER YOUR BET HANDICAP (1500 METRES)
NOTTA MOCHA has returned to racing in brilliant form and he’s going to take a stack of beating. Impressed with a big-finishing first-up win and produced a good performance in a competitive midweek event at Ascot, swooping late for third and clocking the fourth fastest final 200-metre split of the day. With a patient ride and clear galloping room, Notta Mocha should be too strong late. COUNT KALA is being stretched out beyond 1300 metres for the first time, but the way he’s been settling combined with the low draw, suggests he should have enough fuel in the tank to figure in the finish. CHASING CHAOS continues to race consistently and should be sent forward to lead with 1.5kg claiming apprentice Shelby Colgate on top. Will be hard to chase down if allowed to run them along, while SASSO’S CIRCUS should appreciate racing in the Great Southern and no surprise to see him thereabouts. Suited back at 1500 metres also.
Suggested: 4. NOTTA MOCHA win.
4. NOTTA MOCHA
3. COUNT KALA
1. CHASING CHAOS
2. SASSO’S CIRCUS
Race 6 – 4:35PM FURPHY HANDICAP (1600 METRES)
IONYX is a promising enough three-year-old and he looks the horse to beat. Was heavily backed into $1.75 favourite third up and cruised to a comfortable win after controlling the race from out in front, and expecting Dan Staeck to employ similar front-running tactics stepping up to the mile. Still learning his trade, but Ionyx goes okay and should win again. BENTLEY’S BROTHER looms as the biggest danger and should relish the rise in distance after two six-furlong runs to kick off his campaign. Likes to drift back in his races, but has the closing speed to make an impact late. TOP AGENT impressed with his strong second-up win last Friday week, franking his previous result behind Ionyx. Hard to leave him out after that performance, while LONG KNIFE BROTHER should enjoy a sweet run in transit behind the leading pair and be afforded every chance.
Suggested: 1. IONYX win.
3. BENTLEY’S BROTHER
6. TOP AGENT
2. LONG KNIFE BROTHER
Race 7 – 5:15PM XXXX GOLD BOXING DAY TROPHY (1100 METRES)
Not a bad line up of sprinters squaring off leading up to the feature $100,000 Fitzpatrick Plate on Sunday January 6, and confident ARRUM BOY will take a power of beating. Dominated a moderate line up over the 1230 metres two starts back and was a touch disappointing when appearing to have every chance in a winnable race at Ascot last time. The way he finished off on that occasion suggests he still has some improvement fitness wise, so that hit out should bring him further forward for this assignment. Maps to get a soft run from barrier one and Arrum Boy just needs galloping room late. TANGO ORA was a $5 chance against sharp opposition at Ascot 1/12, but was certainly below his best. Expecting him to bounce back hard on his home track though. First-upper WAR JEUNE has plenty of class and wasn’t knocked around in his lead-up Albany trial. No surprise to see him compete well fresh from a low draw, while BLIZZARD EXPRESS has to be included in your exotic bets and the Dixie Solly stable is in a bit of form at present.
Suggested: 5. ARRUM BOY win.
5. ARRUM BOY
4. TANGO ORA
7. WAR JEUNE
6. BLIZZARD EXPRESS
Race 8 – 5:50PM SWAN DRAUGHT HANDICAP (1240 METRES)
Hard to go past COLD AS COLD after his rock-solid first-up Bunbury effort last start. Ran into a pretty smart one in Tawny Pete on that occasion, but he still knuckled down and stuck to his task late to hold down second place. Has run some handy races in better company than this, so he does appear to have a class edge on most of these, and he just needs a reasonable run in transit from the awkward draw. CLASSIC JACK ran on well at Mt Barker 7/12, following up a good maiden win here beforehand. Daniel Staeck going on is a bonus and this fellow should be rattling late. POLDARK’S GIRL didn’t get a lot of luck first up and must be included in the mix considering her record at this track, while natural on-pacer BROWSING continues to race well and should give herself every chance up on top of the speed.
Suggested: 11. COLD AS COLD win.
11. COLD AS COLD
5. CLASSIC JACK
1. POLDARK’S GIRL
*Originally published at 9:00am on Saturday 22 December 2018.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the Albany Racing Club.