Devonport hosts its traditional Sheffield Cup meeting on Boxing Day on Monday, with a strong 7 race card featuring many horses capable of making some noise over the carnival. The Tapeta surface has played very well for a long time now and the expected rain on Monday will have no effect.
Race 1 1:24pm Doc Sender Memorial Maiden (1000m)
Looks very good speed here. Bonjour Belle, It’s Overrated and Bunker Star have all led at previous starts, and expecting Woohoo might show more speed here with blinkers on. Plenty of horses who can be right near the lead also so expect a very fast race which will maybe suit the strongest horses late.
10. Gucci Guccimo: Resumes from a spell here after a solitary run over this course in her first prep. Was only beaten 3L behind Count Montagu and Kepta on that occasion, beating home Mariah’s Magic and Giselle’s Girl. That is obviously incredibly strong form for a race like this and she should get a great run for Carr from 3. If she has come on she will be very hard to beat here.
3. Liffeybeau: Has put together three solid runs so far in his career, the latest being a close-up fifth behind Pistol Jack after racing three-wide outside the speed throughout. Comes back to 1000m which probably isn’t ideal at this stage of his prep but the blinkers go on to try and sharpen him up for it. Gets in light with Graham’s claim but he may have a tricky ride from a wide draw with plenty of pressure up front. Has a bit going for him so if he gets the right run he will take some beating.
7. Woohoo: Was very easy in betting first-up for the Wells stable when finishing around the mark behind Mulley’s Idol. Has a few gear changes here, with the most notable being the blinkers going back on so we may see her let loose from an outside draw as she showed the speed to lead on the mainland. Stable can get them to improve sharply second-up so watch the market.
9. Bunker Star: Ran a solid race on debut here back in September when third behind Snowing Sun, beating home Millie Mateba in the process. Given a quiet trial leading into this so should be ready to go fresh. Comes up with a wide draw with plenty of speed underneath which looks her major issue but can show up with the right run.
Next best Kyogle Son (2) (improved effort last time, can get good run from inside draw, capable of winning) and Bonjour Belle (8) (fast filly who got swamped late last time over 900m, placed over this course behind Life On The Wire as a 2yo but plenty of pressure and extra 100m may see her out ).
Open race with some different formlines clashing. Happy to be with Gucci Guccimo (10) from the good draw on the back of a good debut run in a smart field. Respect for Liffeybeau (3) with the blinkers on and Woohoo (7) can run a better race if fancied in the market.
BACK (WIN) Gucci Guccimo for 3 units
Race 2 1:59pm R J (Snow) & N.C Aylett Memorial Benchmark 82 Handicap (1000m)
Expect a good tempo here through Apriano, Gee Gees Jet and Classic Outlaw who went very fast last time. Valiant Warrior has the speed to get involved too but may take the sit coming back from 1400m. Tempo should be strong enough to give them all their chance.
3. Le Bel Opera: A track specialist who resumes here after an excellent campaign last time which saw him go from C1 grade to open class. Has only missed a top 2 finish on this track once in 12 goes, with that being his first look at the track. Has won 5 of those starts, including three over this trip. Ganderton has a wonderful association with him and should be able to work into the perfect spot behind the speed. This trip is just about his best and with a recent trial under his belt he will take some beating in what is his toughest test to date.
2. Gee Gees Jet: Has his first look at this track but comes here in excellent form, having won and run second in this grade at his past couple. Drops back to 1000m which shouldn’t be an issue considering he has finished top 2 at all three attempts over the trip. Should get a perfect run from a middle draw and if he handles the track he will be hard to hold out.
4. Trot On Candy: Showed she was probably underdone first-up with her good third behind Lord Da Vinci and Gee Gee Red Prince last time out in Hobart. Stays down in the weights here and she won her only start at this track back on Cup day in January. Not sure about the drop in trip but should do no work from an inside draw and will be finishing hard. Definite hope.
1. Valiant Warrior: Broke his winning drought last time over 1400m at Launceston where he was able to dictate terms in front and hold off Treasury Bond. Comes right back in trip here which doesn’t appear entirely suitable and the top couple of chances here have had his measure in recent clashes. That said, he gets in well with Graham’s claim and his best, while maybe behind him, would win this. Consider.
5. Blaze Forth: Comes here second-up and goes up in grade after running midfield behind Naadam last time in Launceston. Not sure coming back to this trip is up his alley but he does race well at this track and gets in on the minimum weight. Has form around Gee Gees Jet as a 3yo which ties in OK here but from a wide draw he might find these a bit sharp. Place hope.
Next best Classic Outlaw (6) (went very fast to pinch a BM62 last time but has found this grade too tough in the past).
Le Bel Opera (3) is a course specialist and looks set to get the right run behind the speed. He can win here, with respect to the good 4yos Gee Gees Jet (2) and Trot On Candy (4).
BACK (WIN) Le Bel Opera for 6 units
Race 3 2:34pm Joe Mason Memorial Maiden (1150m)
Gee Gees Rusty make take up the running here as he did last start in a race with a few on-pacers but no other genuine leader. Valerius with winkers on, Mystic Spirit, Mighty Hoffa, Miss Warrior, Gee Gees Talk Fest and debutant The Wicked Witch all look capable of being thereabouts in the run but with some inconsistent and lightly raced gallopers engaged here it is hard to have confidence in how the race will be run.
6. Valerius: Was well backed last time and did a good job to run third behind Pistol Jack after covering ground throughout. Draws a better barrier here and the winkers go on so he could get the right run in the first few. Promising type of horse improving with race experience and he finds a very suitable race here. Looks clear top pick.
5. Gee Gees Rusty: Showed good speed to lead last time when a close-up fourth behind Pistol Jack. Didn’t have much peace there and may get a much easier time of it this time. Only other run at this track was a 2L 2nd behind Hard Empire. Will go forward and make his own luck so looks the main danger to the favourite.
7. Gee Gees Talk Fest: Ran a much better race last time when a narrow second behind Pistol Jack over this course and that form obviously ties in well with the two picks above her here. Had mixed her form previous to that run but does have some speed to find a position and Darmanin sticks with her. If she can reproduce that run she will be right in the mix.
8. Pura Vida: Ran home well at her first run for Liandra Gray when fourth behind Catalyst Fire in what was a very slow maiden. Comes up with the inside draw here which may be a bonus if she can begin better. This isn’t that much harder and has had a couple of gear changes. Watch the betting as she has a hope.
10. The Wicked Witch: Makes her debut here and comes off a recent trial at Longford where she was held together after showing a bit of early speed. Drawn wide here but may roll forward into a decent spot in a race without great pressure up front. Has found a pretty soft spot to kick off in so watch the market and she can show up if fancied.
Next best Miss Warrior (9) (in the market at only run when well beaten on heavy ground, well bred filly trained on track and has trialled, watch betting) and Belrock Boy (3) (better run last time and suited back up to this trip, will need luck from back in the field but can improve again).
Valerius (6) looks the most promising horse in the race and with winkers on looks set to break his maiden status in a thin race.
BACK (WIN) Valerius for 8 units
Race 4 3:09pm A.J Skirving Memorial Class 3 Handicap (1150m)
O’Lonh Star and Sea Ruler look most likely to take up the running with Seajamm, Time Commands, Scouting Around and Gee Gee Sun Valley looking for a position near the lead. Hushama and Ty Dash may also kick up to be in the first half of the field from their good draws. Should be enough pressure on here for all to get their chance.
1. Seajamm: A pretty smart mare who comes here off a good 2nd behind Naadam in good company at Launceston. Drawn perfectly for the gun run behind the leaders and gets in alright with McCarthy’s claim. Races OK on this surface and should be primed now third-up, having won at this stage of her prep last time in. Looks a leading chance in a competitive race.
3. Ty Dash: Has won both her runs over this course, the most recent at her last start when a dominant victor from back in the field in C1 company. Makes a substantial jump in grade here but form has held up from her 2nd two starts ago behind Count Da Vinci and her two wins on this track have been impressive. Should do no work from the inside draw and she is versatile enough to find a position depending on the tempo. Might be a mare going places and with luck in running she will be hard to hold out here.
2. O’Lonh Star: A fast horse who found some competition for the lead last time and looked to lose his way in the middle stages before battling home OK behind Classic Outlaw. Don’t think he will face quite as much pressure in front this time so he should be able to control the speed in front. This is a bit harder than what he has met before but he is still on the up and with the right run in front he will take some catching.
4. Gee Gee Sun Valley: Gets in light here with Punch’s 3kg claim and has won 2 of her 3 wins at this track. Impressive winner two starts ago in C2 grade then wasn’t too far away last time in a strong BM62. Outside draw may be tricky here but the option is there to push forward and get across. Won earlier in her prep over this course beating Count Montagu which looks decent form and she is not without a hope here.
5. Scouting Around: Was only narrowly defeated first-up in Launceston by Luxembourg before coming here and running a good 3rd over this trip behind Classic Outlaw. Drawn out a bit again but that may allow him to work across into a position without much speed drawn underneath him. Loves this track but ideally wants something a little further. Will run an honest race again and won’t be far away.
Next best Time Commands (8) (comes back from 1400m, not long out of C1 grade so this is as tough as she has contested but makes her own luck and races well here).
Competitive race with the top 3 chances all having strong winning claims. Lean to Ty Dash (3) as the mare on the up, but also happy to save on O’Lonh Star (2) with a better run in front. No knock on Seajamm (1) either but can’t have them all.
BACK (WIN) Ty Dash for 6 units
BACK (WIN) O’Lonh Star for 2 units
Race 5 3:44pm Alan Hardstaff Memorial Benchmark 62 Handicap (1880m)
Dillon Hall should roll to the lead here ahead of Trippin Away, Rialto Jess and maybe Ronaldo’s Goal. New Vision and Windell can settle handy like last time but the rest of these like to relax back off the speed. Without great pressure up front the backmarkers may have the job ahead of them.
1. Dillon Hall: Was a gutsy win last time here over 1650m after sitting outside the leader and fighting back to beat New Vision after being clearly headed in the straight. Hasn’t won beyond that distance but has placed over 2100m so don’t think the added trip is necessarily a big negative. Shapes to get a lovely run near the lead again and hasn’t gone up in weight for his last win. Very open race but he gets his chance to make it two in a row.
3. Windell: Was a sharp improver third-up here last time when a game third behind Dillon Hall. Was well ridden by Darmanin there to settle just behind the leaders and the opportunity is there to do so again here. Up to the 1880m will suit him down to the ground and his last run would have brought him right on for this. Looks well placed and if he gets the right run he will be hard to beat.
12. New Vision: Looked home for all money last time when she got a half-length in front of Dillon Hall in the concluding stages but was worried out of it by that horse late. Comes up with a better barrier this time but is a bit unknown at the longer trip, with all her 2100m runs being quite ordinary earlier in her career. Racing in good form and has obvious place claims but doesn’t win often and a little hard to trust after last time.
2. Impulsive Lager: Comes here off two good wins at Launceston in easier grade, over shorter trips. No reason he isn’t looking for this trip and he is clearly the horse on the up in this field. Only run at this track was satisfactory over a short trip but it doesn’t really suit his get-back pattern. May not have the tempo on to suit but in good form and if he gets the right run he can win.
6. Niloufar: Was very good last time running into fourth behind Dillon Hall after getting back to last in the run. That was a race dominated by those on speed so there was plenty of merit to his run, however he finds a race which may be again dictated by those in front. Only run over this trip was a bit flat but from an inside draw he may be able to settle a little closer in the run. Always needs luck but capable of winning if things pan out his way.
Next best Western Front (8) (ran home similarly well to Niloufar last time, has won over this longer trip, drawn ideally, can win with luck).
Open race but Windell (3) appeals on an each way basis.
BACK (E/W) Windell for 3 units
Race 6 4:24pm Mick Sims Class 1 Handicap (1350m)
Not much pressure up front here with the lead likely to be disputed by Jerrazz, Slinky Malinky and Gotta Have Vibe. A few of these may settle closer but hard to see more than a steady tempo so those who can land on speed should be advantaged.
2. White Hawk: A nice style of 3yo who broke his maiden status in good style last time in Launceston. Wasn’t bad on debut at this track over an unsuitable 1000m so don’t think the surface holds any fears. This doesn’t look much harder than what he has been contesting so no surprise if he can make the jump in grade straight away however he comes up with a bad gate at this start. The expected tempo does make things a little tricky also but if he gets the right run he will be very hard to hold out.
6. Khatun: Resumed off a short break in good style at Launceston when third in this grade behind Toorak Affair and Fragment. That form reads very well for a race like this and she did place behind runaway winner Ty Dash on debut here over a shorter trip. Wants this distance second-up and should get a decent run off the speed from a middle draw. Would like some pressure up front but will be running home hard.
1. Mulley’s Idol: Dropped back to 900m second-up, put the winkers on and got the desired result with an impressive fast-finishing victory. Looks much better suited up to this trip but it is a bit of a jump from the 900m dash. Draws perfectly for Raquel Clark and has showed enough speed previously to suggest he may be able to box seat if he begins well. Much harder here and would ideally be coming off a longer race at the start prior but looks promising and has to be in the mix.
8. Miss Bluegrass: Hasn’t done a whole lot wrong this prep, getting back in her races but finishing off quite nicely considering. Gets to 1350m for the first time this prep at her fourth run in and worth noting she won her maiden at her fourth start over this course. Should get a perfect run for Carr from 2 and may be able to settle a little closer as she did from an inside draw when she won. Going the right way and a genuine winning chance in this.
5. Jerrazz: Was in the market when resuming but didn’t finish off behind Time Commands. Gets out to this trip second-up which is a little query at only her third career start but comes up with the inside draw and looks set to get a lovely run near the lead. Nicely bred and trained on the track so the surface shouldn’t hold any fears. Have to respect her on the run she may get.
Next best Gee Gee Pure Gold (7) (not hopeless last time, well bred filly who gets blinkers on now, may improve) and Slinky Malinky (10) (wasn’t bad in a fast race last time, better suited at this trip, may get a good run on speed and in light with Punch’s claim, can make a case for her).
Very tricky affair where a number of these can win with the right run. Going to play small on Miss Bluegrass (8) off the inside draw and Slinky Malinky (10) with the good run on speed.
BACK (WIN) Miss Bluegrass for 2 units
BACK (WIN) Slinky Malinky for 1 unit
Race 7 5:04pm Barry Diprose Transport Sheffield Cup (1650m)
Sound Bar and Kanji look the main chances to lead here but many of these can be right on the speed, namely Geegees Brightstar from the good draw, Red Eagle, Underplay up to the mile, The Master Speed, Treasury Bond, Jerilderie Letter, Private Currency and Zigold. That should result in enough pressure to ensure a genuinely run race but those back in the field will still have plenty of traffic to navigate.
1. Jerilderie Letter: The class runner of the field coming off an excellent third at WFA in the Tasmanian Stakes behind the champs Admiral and Hellova Street. Has the top weight here but is in pretty well considering and is versatile enough to slot in from a middle draw depending on the tempo. Both runs here on his home track have been very good and this is a clear drop in grade. Looks very well placed and whatever beats him will just about win.
9. Treasury Bond: Has come back in good style, following up a strong win first-up with a fast-finishing second behind Valiant Warrior where he missed the start and was unsuited by the tempo from there on. Both runs over this course last season were respectable in what was probably a season too early for him. Will appreciate the drop in weight and can get a good spot from a middle draw providing he doesn’t begin slowly again, which would spell disaster in a big field like this. Looks one of the dangers.
5. Siorca: Was all the rage last time in the Golden Mile after stringing together three impressive wins in a row but he was unable to pick up the leaders in what was an on-pace dominated race. Gets right down in the weights this time and with the bigger field he might get a more genuine tempo in front. Likes this track despite it not suiting his racing pattern and has the ability to rattle off fast sectionals late if given a cart into the race. Has winning claims.
2. Sound Bar: Was a very gutsy on-speed performance when he won the Golden Mile last time out. That was his second win from three tries over this course and he shapes to get a good run on speed again here from the inside draw. Isn’t in too well at the weights after that last start win and this is his toughest test but he is genuine, can take up a position and will fight on so he will be in the mix somewhere.
10. The Master Speed: A very good 3yo before losing his way in the winter, but he has returned in good style this preparation with two very strong wins at Launceston. Ran a close 3rd behind Jerilderie Letter in the Tasmanian Guineas so he has the hint of class to win a race like this and can take up a position near the lead from a good draw. In on the minimum weight helps too and while he didn’t do a lot on this surface in the winter, at least he has had a look at it and he had genuine excuses both times. He appeals as the horse on the up with a knockout hope.
Next best Magnasa (3) (outclassed in the Tasmanian Stakes last time, close-up 4th behind Sound Bar in the Golden Mile, likes this track and well weighted) and Kanji (12) (gutsy effort in front in the Golden Mile, can be fitter for that and give a sight again).
Jerilderie Letter (1) is the class runner here on his home track and looks too good for these.
BACK (WIN) Jerilderie Letter for 6 units