Racing at Launceston on Wednesday night sees the running of the first feature race of the season and the most prestigious sprint race in the state, the $100,000 Wordsmith Newmarket Handicap. With good weather forecast and the rail going out to the 3m position after racing in the True last week, we should see a firm, fair track which gives every horse their chance.
Race 1 6:35pm Electro Rewind Maiden (1400m)
Expect a genuine tempo here with Della Terra, Divine Strategy, Gee Gee Rich Ruby and Lads Curfew all likely to be racing near the lead. Blushing Pink and the emergency Gee Gees Talk Fest can take up a position also.
10. Divine Strategy: Was very good first-up behind Gemini and kept finding the line after handing up the lead as they went down the side. Step up to 1400m is unknown territory but looks to suit on that effort. Stays down in the weights with Wong’s claim and can get a good spot near the lead. Yet to miss a place in her 3 starts and looks one of the better chances again.
14. Gee Gee Rich Ruby: Ran well at her debut when 3rd behind Gemini, basically finishing alongside Divine Strategy after taking the lead mid-race. Goes to 1400m second-up which is a slight query but did have a couple of trials leading into debut run. Wide draw is awkward but has the speed to go forward and overcome it. Looks a horse with promise and should be right in the mix.
2. Impulsive Lager: One of few major chances here who has had the run over 1400m this prep. Was very good last time when 3rd behind Schillie Billie where he made up a stack of ground from well back and if he had got clear earlier down the side he may well have won. Should get a genuine tempo to chase here and looks clearly the best run-on chance.
13. Della Terra: Another filly going to 1400m for the first time and has the blinkers come off for the assignment. Has done enough at both runs over 1200m here so looks ready for the trip third-up. Gets Craig Newitt in the saddle and draws ideally for a comfortable run on speed. Has been very firm in betting at both runs and expect her to be one of the leading hopes again.
1. British: Has made ground from back in the field at both runs back from a spell, the most recent in a leader-dominated race won by Schillie Billie. Was no match for Impulsive Lager there but has the blinkers go on now and Raquel Clark takes the ride. All four runs over this course have been solid enough and nearing peak third-up. Needs to improve a length or two for this but has a bit going for him.
Next best Tough Vic (has shown ability but very disappointing last time, drawn well, maybe wants soft ground?) and Saalim (worked home well first-up in handy form race, has run well this course, improving type).
Competitive race to start the night. Some handy fillies and mares to fight it out on speed here and they all have good chances but prefer to go with Impulsive Lager (2), who was very good last time and has the run over this trip under his belt.
BACK (WIN) Impulsive Lager for 2 units
Race 2 7:10pm Riverview Hotel Class 3 Handicap (1400m)
Galeocerdo won well last time after running along at a strong tempo in front so may look to do the same again here despite the rise in distance. Count Da Vinci and Before All can go forward also but that looks the only regular speed, so while the tempo may be strong, the pressure on those near the lead looks limited.
4. Count Da Vinci: Was very impressive when landing some good bets first-up with an all-the-way win over Ty Dash and subsequent winner Black Hills here over 1200m. Showed plenty of early speed and a high cruising speed there and his NZ form suggests the step up to 1400m is even more suitable. He’s had 4 weeks to get over that effort and has the blinkers come off to go to the longer trip. From a good draw he can be ridden a little more conservatively early and while this is a step up in grade it does look a winnable race. Top chance to win again.
2. Son Of Faith: Was a tad disappointing last time but was still a solid 4th behind smart galloper Livermore here over 1200m. Goes to the 1400m for the first time and has blinkers on for the first time so wouldn’t be surprised to see him push forward into the box seat with the lack of numbers going forward. In well with McCarthy’s claim and should be ready to peak third-up off a short break. Trip is unknown but if he runs it strongly he looks a great hope.
3. Olly’s A Star: Resumes from a spell here without a trial so has a slight fitness query there. Loves racing at this track and has only missed a place once in five tries over this course. Proven in this grade having won over 1600m in C3 company last prep and all his firm track form is very solid. Suggest this is a bit of a target race for him so he looks a good chance and respect any solid market moves.
8. Cameo Kiss: Was an improved effort second-up here over 1200m and looks ready for the 1400m trip now. Has run close placings at both tries over this course previously and does have the ability to roll forward to find a good spot from her middle draw. Up slightly in grade but gets in on the minimum weight. Ideally wants some sting out of the track but can be in the finish with the right run.
9. Galeocerdo: Scored her first win over 1200m last time with a fast all-the-way win over smart mare Bella Venus. Was advantaged by an on-pace pattern there but was there to be beaten and kept fighting off her rivals. Out to 1400m for the first time is a genuine query but she may get her chance to run along in the lead again. Inclined to think it may be too far for her but respect her knockout chance if they leave her alone in front.
Next best Hushama (finished off well late last week behind Ocean Star, comes here on the quick back-up, in light with Thornton’s claim but terrible gate to deal with).
Hard to go past the impressive Count Da Vinci (4) who has had a break to get over his first-up victory and shapes to get a softer run just behind the speed here.
BACK (WIN) Count Da Vinci for 6 units
Race 3 7:45pm McCrimmon Insurance Benchmark 72 Handicap (1400m)
Looks enough pressure at the front end here to ensure a good tempo here. Maccy Fields, Meconsul and maybe Kool Kash can go forward looking to lead in front of the likes of Steel Moon, Underplay, Watch Over Me and O’Reillys Geegee. This should give all runners their chance.
2. Steel Moon: Ran his usual honest race here over 1200m last time when no match for Concentrate but he beat the rest comfortably. Draws ideally in gate 2 for a soft run behind the leaders and McCoull sticks with him. 1400m is still relatively unchartered territory but he did have excuses when beaten over 1350m at Devonport in BM82 grade as a short priced favourite. Has plenty of weight but rarely runs a bad race and looks one of the better hopes again.
12. Watch Over Me: Was heavily backed last time but was forced to race wide and finished up down the track behind Concentrate. Previous form had been very solid so that run can be forgiven. Draws much better here and stays down in the weights with Clark’s claim. Out to 1400m is a query but did run a couple of 2nds over 1350m at Devonport through the winter. Been up a long time but should get a good run on speed and if she has no issues at the trip she will take some beating.
3. Underplay: Had absolutely no luck fresh last time behind Concentrate so that run should be forgotten. Gets to 1400m second-up which may be a slight fitness query given he was never extended last time but he only had a short break following his impressive 1350m Devonport win back in August. Darmanin hops back on and he ran a good 5th behind Jerilderie Letter in top 3yo grade last season over this course. With more luck in running here he can go very close and may well go around over the odds.
6. Beaufort Lad: Rattled home from the back first-up when 5th behind Concentrate. Wasn’t too far behind Steel Moon there and looks much better suited out to 1400m. May settle a little closer from a better draw out to this trip but should still be enough speed on for him to win. Will be better suited again when he gets to the mile but expect him to be finishing hard and he will be hard to hold out if the pressure goes on up front.
8. Maccy Fields: Was able to dictate the tempo when winning over this course last time out in this grade. Doubt she will be able to do the same here and this does look a much harder BM72 than the field she beat there. She has been comfortably beaten in both meetings with Underplay so she may find a couple of these too good but she will go forward and make her own luck. Can be thereabouts.
Next best Geegees Baritone (nice run first-up when 4th behind Concentrate, suited up to 1400m, has to go back from outside draw) and Meconsul (not bad last time when 6th behind Concentrate, won only start this course, not sure where he ends up from awkward draw).
Even race with a number of horses proven in this grade. Going with Underplay (3) who can get a good run just behind the speed and didn’t get his chance to show his best last time. Happy to save on Beaufort Lad (6) if horses can run on.
BACK (WIN) Underplay for 3 units
BACK (WIN) Beaufort Lad for 1 unit
Race 4 8:20pm Frank Feeney 60th Maiden (1200m)
Plenty of pressure up front here with Millie Mateba, newcomer to the state Hellmuth and Carnaby Road all likely to look for the lead. Husson’s Kiss, Vivre Star, Scott Market and the emergency Quiet Wonder with blinkers on are all capable of kicking up from their inside draws to hold a position behind the leaders which could result in a strong tempo as the leaders look to cross.
6. Hellmuth: Has his first run for Graeme McCulloch here after missing a run last week as an emergency. Has done all his racing in provincial Victoria with John McArdle in what have been some decent maiden fields. Has the speed to lead but capable ridden with a sit so Clark has some options from the middle draw. Does look to have plenty of ability on his Victorian runs so he looks hard to beat here.
2. Leconte: A well bred gelding who also makes his Tasmanian debut here for Alana Fulton. Has had a long spell but trialled alright a fortnight ago at Longford so he should be just about ready to go. Was well backed two starts ago when finishing a close-up 3rd at Kyneton so he looks to have his share of ability. Can get a nice run back on the inside so be very respectful of strong market support.
12. Husson’s Kiss: Makes her debut for Prime Thoroughbreds and the Goggin & Meaburn stable here after five trials, including two this preparation. Comes up with the inside draw which may be a big advantage should they go fast as she can save all the ground. Trial form is alright but 1200m can be hard to win at first-up. Watch market but she looks to have winning claims.
4. Scott Market: Has run a couple of reasonable races at Hobart and now has a tongue tie applied for the first time. Draws beautifully here for McCoull and can get into a good spot just behind the speed. Getting out to 1200m looks suitable and he worked home well to finish in front of Millie Mateba last time. Lightly raced type who can be thereabouts here.
Next best Millie Mateba (honest mare with plenty of early speed but struggles to finish off and now out to 1200m for the first time), Vivre Star (resumes, has trialled, honest type from good draw, will be better over further) and Gee Gee Royal Miss (resumes, has trialled, 2yo form reasonable and placed against older horses, well drawn but this is tough).
The money was there for Hellmuth (6) last week before he didn’t get a run and he finds a pretty nice race to kick off in here. A watch on Leconte (2) who can run well if fancied.
BACK – Hellmuth for 4 units
Race 5 9:00pm Legal Solutions Benchmark 82 Handicap (1200m)
Big field of sprinters but not too much pressure at the front end. Valiant Warrior and Gee Gees Jet appeal as the likely leaders, with the likes of I’m Wesley, Sound Bar, Teriki and Silver Bolt looking to work across into a forward position from their wide draws. Emergency Step The Pedal and Minute Repeater may look to box seat from their inside draws also. All should get their chance here with the on-pacers hard to run down with the right run.
14. Teriki: Racing in excellent form, following a gutsy win here in fast time with a big sight in the Goodwood Handicap when only beaten half a length behind Hellova Street. Was advantaged leading there but that still looks like good form for this being the ‘Newmarket consolation’. Horror draw but has been handling wide draws well and it gives Clark the chance to work into a position rather than be buried back on the inside should she only be fair to begin. Has the right formlines and no weight so looks a leading chance.
15. I’m Wesley: Wasn’t bad when beaten by Wanaea over this course last time and may be better suited by a more genuine tempo here. Barrier looks ideal with most of the speed drawn outside him so he can sit in the box seat if desired. Gets a nice weight drop on his recent racing but this is his first try in this grade. Form lines up through Teriki and looks like getting the right run so he will take some beating.
13. Gee Gees Jet: Will appreciate getting onto firm ground here after racing on soft ground exclusively this prep. Best runs are on dry ground and his best form measures up around the leading chances here. Has the speed to overcome the wide draw and should get a pretty comfortable run near the lead. With a nice weight drop he looks a major hope in a competitive race.
2. Silver Bolt: Won five in a row last prep including three over this course where he beat horses the quality of Tshahitsi, Powercharged and Bideford. Was ok first-up in the Goodwood and looks better suited in this grade. Comes up with a nightmare barrier so hard to see how he won’t be 3 wide. Loves this track and firm conditions so hard to completely risk but does have the job ahead.
16. Step The Pedal: An emergency who is right in calculations should she get a start. Made a real jump last time in when working from C1 grade through to open mares grade, culminating in a win over Sh’bourne Spirit before a short, game campaign in Victoria. Better on soft ground but capable on dry and looks ready to go with two trials leading into this. Can get a great run from an inside draw and with no weight she is capable of showing up.
Next best Minute Repeater (resumes for new stable, very good fresh and well drawn), Geegees Soprano (loves this course, solid in Goodwood, Newitt on) and Vandemeer (very good fresh, likes firm ground and suited if the pressure goes on up front).
Hot race and very competitive. I’m Wesley (15) can improve with the run under his belt and looks to have drawn the best of the major chances. Step The Pedal (16) can show up also should she get a run. Realistically any of about 8 could be winning here however.
BACK (WIN) Step The Pedal for 2 units
Race 6 9:30pm Wordsmith Newmarket Handicap (1200m)
Gun field here but surprisingly not the extreme pressure at the front end on paper. Gee Gee Red Prince races near the lead from the inside draw but look for Hellova Street to burn across from his outside draw. Admiral and Lord Da Vinci also look to work across from wider out to box seat and Tshahitsi may kick up from his inside draw. Geegees Doublejay holds the key to the pressure – if he bombs the start again the on-pacers may get pretty comfortable runs, but if he’s out quickly he adds to the early speed and we could see it declared on up front with those drawn wide trying to get across.
2. Admiral: Makes his Tasmanian return this season after a disappointing first-up run at Caulfield in a messy race where he may not have handled the shifting ground. Arguably should have won this race last year with 59kg before going undefeated throughout the rest of the Tasmanian carnival in WFA company. Wide draw looks bad but can slot into a position just behind the speed without needing much luck. Has plenty of weight but loves this track and firm ground and looks as hard to beat as anything.
3. Hellova Street: The reigning champ, having won the past two Newmarkets, and comes here in great shape again having won the Goodwood Handicap in Hobart despite sitting three wide outside the lead throughout. Only goes up 1kg on his win last year and Dean Holland returns to ride him as he has done the past two years. Drawn wide but without great pressure he should be able to find a good spot near the lead and from there he will take plenty of running down.
7. Lord Da Vinci: Hasn’t done a thing wrong since joining the Scott Brunton stable, winning all four starts with a couple against genuine winning rivals here in Tshahitsi and Gee Gee Red Prince. This will be the first firm track he has encountered since arriving in the state but he has won on good ground in Victoria. Barrier draw looks his major obstacle but he has the speed to go forward and try and slot in. Should he do so, he’s going to take a power of beating.
5. Geegees Doublejay: Returned with an excellent 3rd in the Goodwood after blowing the start, making up good ground on an on-pace dominated track. Comes up with a perfect draw and is also very well weighted compared to his major rivals. His issue is the starting gates – he has bombed the start at 3 of his past 4 runs and he can’t afford to do so in a race of this nature. If he’s away with them, he’s another with a big chance in a hot race.
13. Tshahitsi: Was the unlucky runner of the Goodwood, working his way along the inside only to run into a dead end in the straight. He flashed home when he was out but it was all too late in an eye catching Newmarket trial. He stays down on the minimum here and draws for the softest of runs from gate 3. Up to 1200m is right up his alley, he is proven in fast run races and his form also measures up with Lord Da Vinci. Will need luck from the draw but if he gets clear at the right time he’s the one who will have done no work and can swamp them late.
Next best Gee Gee Red Prince (should get good run on speed from inside draw, ran favourite in the Goodwood, definite hope), Gee Gees Top Notch (flashed home in Goodwood against the pattern, not sure where she ends up in the run here but no weight and genuine claims if track suiting those running on) and Jerilderie Letter (classy 4yo, tough ask this first-up from outside draw but not impossible if he lands three wide with cover).
Super race with 8 genuine winning hopes. Going to risk Admiral (2) with the big weight and Geegees Doublejay (5) with his starting issues but no real knock on them. Leaves me with Lord Da Vinci (7), Hellova Street (3) and Tshahitsi (13) and will be working around all 3 for a result.
BACK (WIN) Lord Da Vinci for 4 units
BACK (WIN) Hellova Street for 3 units
BACK (WIN) Tshahitsi for 2 units
Race 7 10:05pm Cuccina Class 1 Handicap (1200m)
Our Caption can race forward again coming back to 1200m but there could be pressure applied from the wide draws through The Desperate and Under Milkwood. What An Option, Top Draw and Time Commands can be on speed. This should be run at a standard tempo.
10. Kepta: Gets back up to 1200m here after being beaten as a odds-on favourite in Hobart behind Galeocerdo. That race was run in very fast time and she did make decent ground against the pattern so the run was probably better than it looked. Should get a soft run in behind the speed here and this looks to be a pretty soft C1 at this stage of the season. Very hard to beat.
8. Our Caption: Comes back to 1200m here after just failing to see out the 1400m when she had every chance behind Black Hills. Won her maiden well over this course and looks like getting a good run on speed again for Newitt from a good barrier. Blinkers go back on to sharpen her up for the drop in trip and this is no harder. Should be in the mix again.
4. Time Commands: Has had a short break since a winter campaign racing at Devonport which brought about four placings from six runs but no wins. 1200m fresh should suit and she can go forward and take up a position on speed. Hasn’t raced on turf for a long time but considering she was placed at Moonee Valley earlier in her career it won’t be an issue. One of the better chances.
2. The Desperate: Resumes here and won a trial nicely a fortnight ago for new trainer Rowan Hamer. Won his maiden over this course albeit on heavy ground but his firm track form in Victoria reads alright. Drawn the outside but does have the speed to cross if he begins well. Watch betting at first run for new stable.
12. Top Draw: Resumes after a handy 2yo campaign where she took a liking to this track. Won her maiden here over 1100m and showed improvement at every run. First-up 1200m is a bit of an ask against the older horses but did trial well and can get a good run for Holland from a middle draw. Watch the betting here too – she can show up if fancied fresh.
Next best What An Option (first-up for Chester Roach, makes own luck on speed, won maiden at this track, hasn’t trialled so may need the run).
Kepta (10) looks perfectly placed here and looks one of the better bets of the night.
BACK (WIN) Kepta for 8 units
Race 8 10:35pm Rusty Jacks Maiden/Class 1 Handicap (1600m)
Not many genuine on-pacers here so expect No Alibi Needed and Somatra to roll to the lead from wide draws. Somatra broke them up last time but faded badly so expecting her to be ridden a bit more conservatively this time. Stem Cell, Totally Wicked and maybe the newcomer Where’s Scotty look like box seating from good draws, while Gee Gees Cool Gal and Life’s Quest can go forward if desired. Doubtful to be a strongly run race.
3. No Alibi Needed: Was a game win third-up in Hobart after being beautifully ridden in front by Pires to take advantage of the pattern. Tired late there but the job was done. Goes out to a mile now where he hasn’t had any success on the mainland from two tries but shapes to get a good run near the lead to give him every chance. Still relatively lightly raced so probably better placed to attempt the trip now and he should be in the finish again.
10. Zemiro: Bungled the start last time over 1400m before running home alright to finish 4th behind Black Hills in C1 grade. Ready for the mile now, has winkers on for the first time to try and switch her on a bit more and has run well under these conditions last prep without winning. Lack of pressure up front may be an issue as she likes to settle back in the field but if horses can run on she looks hard to hold out.
2. Littlerayov: Ran a really good 3rd in that same Black Hills race a fortnight ago when Darmanin was able to ride him a bit closer to the speed. Goes out to a mile here for the first time but racing like it will suit. Loses nothing with McCoull going on and versatility to race closer to the speed here may be a bonus. One of the leading hopes.
1. Life’s Quest: Showed a mile was no issue at all for him with a very strong 2nd last time in a brutally run race over this course behind Strathalbyn. That form should measure up well here but he showed two runs back if the pace is slacker he can overrace and ruin his chances. Darmanin has a job to do from the outside draw but he’s right in the mix and hard to hold out if he gets the right run.
6. Gee Gees Cool Gal: Continues to race honestly and will find this easier than her past few runs in handy C1 grade. Out to the mile is just about as far as she wants but she did place over this course at the end of her last prep behind Miss Choosey. Should get a cosy run from a good draw for Carr and her form ties in favourably with Life’s Quest. Still a slight query at this trip but she’s always somewhere in the finish.
Next best Geegees Lillybet (good last time behind Zipped Up, Strathalbyn won since off similar run, Newitt on, would prefer sting out) and Sir Marmaduke (very good two back, up to mile suits, can go forward if desired but does mix form).
Very even race to finish the night. Think the winkers may help to switch on Zemiro (10) and she appeals up to her right trip.
BACK (WIN) Zemiro for 2 units