Launceston takes centre stage on Wednesday night for the second thoroughbred race meeting in two days. With reasonable weather the track looks set to race around the Soft 5 mark and it played very well under similar conditions last week. The rail goes out to the 6m position which can start to suit the on-pacers but if the sting is out of the track the inside can chop up as the night goes on to even things up, so watch how the pattern plays through the night.
Race 1 6:45pm Doug Towns Maiden (1200m)
Big field and plenty of pressure on paper. Look to Della Terra, Tremotino and Carnaby Road to vie for the early lead. Many of these can be in the first few, namely the newcomer to the state Lucky Option, Banca Dream, Owens, Westerly Haze, Quiet Wonder, Kyogle Son, Kaoru and the emergency Oxford Road. This pressure should give all their chance.
12. Della Terra: Was heavily supported when resuming here a fortnight ago and he was only narrowly beaten when picked off on the line by Jansz. Should be fitter for the 1200m with that run under his belt and the blinkers go on for the first time. Drawn to find a good position near the lead but will find some pressure up the front. Appeals as the clear top pick.
1. Banca Dream: A promising run on debut here over 1200m when fourth behind Our Caption. Had plenty of market support but was forced to race wide after being hampered at the start. His effort to stick on was very solid and Clark stays in the saddle here. Middle draw should suit and with more luck at the start he can be right in the firing line. Suggest he is the big improver and the main danger to the favourite.
11. Lucky Option: A newcomer to the Scott Brunton stable after having one run for Darren Weir, which was a third on Boxing Day 2015 at Penshurst. Hard to know what to make of that form and curious why a 6yo mare has only had the one run, but when produced at the trials last week she won under a hold from the promising Scrutineer. Drawn inside and with Pires on she is a definite market watch.
8. Tremotino: A speedy type who stuck on well last time with the blinkers on after getting in a bumping duel in the straight. Up to 1200m is a slight query but on better ground it shouldn’t be much tougher than that run on heavy ground. Stays down in the weights with Thornton’s claim and debut run at this track was alright in decent 3yo company. Should be around the mark.
9. Trusted Warrior: A nice style of 3yo who resumes here after a narrow second in the Sires Produce behind Hard Empire back in the autumn. Now with Crook & Miller, he blew the cobwebs out in a recent trial and looks suited by the 1200m trip fresh. Will get back and need luck from an inside draw but looks to have a touch of quality and can be running on late.
Next best Kyogle Son (3yo resuming from long spell after showing enough in two early season 2yo races, comfortable trial win, Maskiell booked and has been gelded, big watch on betting).
Bit of depth to the first race here but happy to work around Della Terra (12) and Banca Dream (1) as the main chances. Lean to Banca Dream (1) who is likely to be a better price and can improve sharply second-up with more luck in running. Watch the market on Lucky Option (11) and Kyogle Son (17) predominantly.
BACK (E/W) Banca Dream for 3 units
Race 2 7:20pm Rod Thirkell-Johnston Benchmark 72 Handicap (1200m)
Another big field with plenty of pressure. Think the lead will be fought out by Classic Outlaw, Meconsul, Concrete Johnny and Bella Venus, with the likes of Steel Moon, Underplay, Gee Gees Style and Watch Over Me looking to be right on their hammer.
6. Steel Moon: Got back onto the turf last time after an extensive Devonport preparation and ran his usual solid race when a close-up 3rd behind smart mare Hyperbole. Both runs at this track have been very good, namely 2nds behind good horses Issawi and Lord Da Vinci. Draws ideally and can get the right run for McCoull. Has been up a long time but never runs a bad race and looks one of the better hopes again.
7. Underplay: Appears to be a Devonport track specialist however his trainer has declared he is a better horse on the turf. Had a let-up since a good Devonport preparation which brought 2 wins and 3 placings in 5 runs, including a most impressive win over 1350m at his most recent run. Gets a nice claim for Maskiell and a suitable middle draw to be in the box seat. Placed over this course behind Partenza and well up to this grade. Genuine chance.
13. Watch Over Me: Has gone to a new level recently and was devastating when winning last time out over this course, running slick time in the process. Stays down in the weights with Clark’s claim and while this is her toughest test her form reads alright in quality C3 races. The wide barrier looks a major obstacle with the likelihood of a high pressure race but if she can get the right run she is one of the leading hopes.
12. Concentrate: Did a good job last time when only beaten a length by Teriki in an unsuitably run 1100m. Think he did enough there to suggest he is not just a Devonport specialist and Darmanin gets back on top. Inside draw may not be ideal as he’ll be back and looking to circle the field but if he can stay in touch he should be suited by the pressure up front and he’s the swooper with the knockout chance late.
14. Bella Venus: Likely to run at Hobart on Tuesday but is a major player if she comes here instead. Last run was very game behind Teriki and she generally races very well at this track. Drawn out maybe some query but she can work forward and is capable of running well when sitting on a strong tempo. In light and up to this grade so she has a winning chance.
Next best Meconsul (returned to form last time, placed at WFA over this course behind Admiral, likes this track and can be right there from good draw, heat will be on Graham early) and Beaufort Lad (promising stayer with no form to speak of over sprint trips for a race like this but last 1200m run was good 2nd behind Caffeine Hit on wet ground, set a big task here but respect his talent).
Hot race this. Really like the top four chances but going to go with the two who fare best from the draw in Steel Moon (6) and Underplay (7).
BACK (WIN) Steel Moon for 2 units
BACK (WIN) Underplay for 2 units
Race 3 8:00pm Members Maiden (1400m)
Speed comes from out wide with newcomer to the state Schillie Billie and Cousin White Foot looking the likely leaders. Blushing Pink and Lads Curfew can roll forward while McCoull on Tough Vic has a decision from the outside draw whether to try going forward again or riding quieter early.
6. Tough Vic: Srprisingly went forward over this trip last time but disappointed when fourth behind Saint’s Quest. Was well supported there after a good first-up effort and this time he has McCoull in the saddle and the blinkers on. Wide draw gives them a decision to make again – are they spooked by his last run and go back or do they go forward again? One of the leading chances in this but hard to know what to make of his most recent effort.
7. Argillite: Likely to run in Hobart on Tuesday but is suitably placed should she take her place here instead. Debut fourth was good enough in a strong maiden behind Amaword, where the placegetters Khatun and Gemini have both won since. Looks suited by the step up to the 1400m and can race a bit closer to the speed with Carr on from an inside draw. Genuine chance if she runs here.
10. Schillie Billie: A newcomer to the Graeme McCulloch stable who brings good quality Victorian provincial form to the table. Nicely bred mare who can go forward in her races and has placed three times over this 1400m trip. Is only four weeks between runs coming back from the mile so should be just about fit enough and Darmanin is a positive booking. Looks up to this and worth following positive market support for her.
2. Impulsive Lager: Has run home nicely in unsuitably run races at his two starts this preparation, the latest a good second behind Our Caption. Up to the 1400m suits as he was an excellent 2nd behind What An Option at his only previous try over this course. From a middle draw he might not have to get quite so far back and he should be cherry ripe now third-up. Ticks a few boxes and should be one of the hardest to hold out late.
1. British: Was well in the market when resuming and ran home well enough for fifth behind Amaword considering the rail was in the 9m position. Was a similar run to Argillite there so that form obviously ties in well here. From the outside draw he probably has to go back again but worth noting he has finished top 4 in all three runs over this course. Honest type who will be running on as he usually does but may need luck in running to be winning.
Next best Crowbar (nice return for a narrow 3rd behind Jansz, step up in trip looks suitable, in the mix) and Catalyst Fire (showed enough on debut behind Jansz, suited at longer trip and Pires jumps on).
Even race. Tough Vic (6) is sure to have supporters and will run well, but lean to the Victorian Schillie Billie (10) with the booking of Darmanin and the ability to roll forward, especially if she receives market support.
BACK (WIN) Schillie Billie for 2 units
Race 4 8:30pm Membership Benefits Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m)
Miss It And A Bit should be able to take up her customary role in the lead without too much trouble, with Miss Choosey coming across with her to settle 2nd. Little pressure from the rest so the on-pacers get their chance to dictate.
2. Miss It And A Bit: Resumed here a fortnight ago with a game 2nd behind Snippetee Bee over 1400m in BM82 grade. Usually races in higher grade and has a great record over this distance, having won 5 of his 19 starts, and ran some excellent 2nds here behind Powercharged and Admiral (since upgraded to winning in the George Adams) over 1600m in the autumn. Sherry Barr rides her very well and she gets her chance to dictate from the front. Looks very hard to beat.
1. Magnasa: Was able to roll forward last week in the small field which resulted in a narrow but game win over 1400m. Ready for the 1600m and looks suited coming here on the quick back-up. Maskiell takes the ride to provide a bit of weight relief but with the lack of pressure on the favourite out in front he’ll need to look to go forward again. Promising horse who can rattle off good splits late and is the danger if he is in touch with the leader.
4. Charcol: Was a game winner last time on wet ground in Hobart over this trip and does look better suited over the mile rather than up over the staying trips. This looks a bit harder but his ability to race near the speed will be vital with Miss It And A Bit dictating. Firmer ground shouldn’t be an issue and he is a winner at this track. Should get the right run to have his chance but needs to go up a cog again against the top two.
3. Shiralee: Was well supported last time behind Magnasa but was left with too much to do behind the slow tempo and had to settle for 4th. Blinkers come off now getting out to the mile where he generally races well but he may again run into trouble with the leaders getting every chance out in front. If the pressure goes on and he can get a nice cart into the race he is capable of picking them up late but he does look vulnerable to the tempo again.
6. Gwemrae: Comes back from racing over 2100m which doesn’t seem ideal at this stage of her preparation but Brunton is very capable of freshening them up from the staying trips down at the beach. Hasn’t been racing as kind as she might over the longer trip so she may be better suited with more tempo on at the mile, and her runs this prep over shorter trips at Devonport were all very solid. Probably needs the pressure to go on up front to pick them up late but expect her to run home into the finish somewhere.
Hard to go past Miss It And A Bit (2) who can dictate terms here and be hard to run down. Respect for Magnasa (1) as the main danger.
BACK (WIN) Miss It And A Bit for 6 units
BACK (WIN) Magnasa for 2 units
Race 5 9:00pm Al Turner Maiden/Class 1 Handicap (1600m)
Not a heap of genuine speed engaged here so wouldn’t be surprised to see Somatra run along like it did last start. Bush Mayhem, Sparkling Moon, Slinky Malinky and Intriguingly can push forward to be near the lead but don’t expect there to be any great pressure.
2. Strathalbyn: Ran home well for 4th behind Zipped Up last week over this course when forced to make his run wide and unsuited by the steady tempo up front. Is ready to win but again draws wide and there doesn’t look to be much tempo on paper so may encounter similar issues to last start. Should be spot on for this and if he can get into the right spot in the run he will take some beating but genuine queries that will be the case.
11. Intriguingly: Racing well on wet ground but doesn’t have much exposed form on the firmer surface. Showing ability to race forward albeit in smaller fields, but being able to go forward here from a wide gate would be an advantage. Gets in light with Thornton’s claim and does look well placed if she can lob into the first 4 in the run. Looks one of the better hopes.
3. Another Brother: Was a bit disappointing a fortnight ago when unable to make up the ground behind Khatun and had to settle for 4th. Was a big betting drifter there and now looks better suited back to the mile, a trip over which he ran 3rd behind Island Tiger on heavy ground at his previous run. McCoull sticks with him and he doesn’t have to go right back from the draw. Expect improvement and he has form around the better chances so he is right in the mix.
6. Slinky Malinky: Generally races in tougher company than this over the shorter trips and is ticking over quite nicely, with her last run being a solid 4th behind Amaword last week over 1400m. Disappointed at this trip in the autumn but did win her maiden over 1580m in Victoria. Has the blinkers on and can take up a position on speed which should be an advantage in this field. Brings different and arguably stronger form to this so if she can run the trip out she has definite winning claims.
1. Life’s Quest: Another coming through the stronger C1 races at shorter trips and had been racing quite well before failing behind Amaword here last week. Overraced there which can explain his poor finish but he won’t want to do that again off a muddling tempo at this longer trip. First run over 1600m is a query but if Darmanin can get him to settle he has the right form to win a race like this.
Next best Berroco (should be better for a run over this trip last time, form ties in through Intriguingly, genuine hope) and Somatra (better last time when allowed to run along in front, suited by extra trip and may get chance to run along in the lead again).
Very hard race and not keen to get too involved. Forced to play, think Slinky Malinky (6) and Life’s Quest (1) are going well enough in harder company and can run well here.
BACK (WIN) Slinky Malinky for 1 unit
BACK (WIN) Life’s Quest for 1 unit
Race 6 9:30pm Become a Member of the Club Class 3 Handicap (1200m)
Expect Cuban Missile and Fill Ya Boots to come across from wider draws to take up the running here. Elegatano can box seat from a good draw, while The Captain, Kentucky Bound, Antah and the emergency Doubtful Folly can be thereabouts in the run. Might be hard for the backmarkers to swamp these with every chance given up front.
6. Elegatano: Resumes here with a trial under his belt after showing great improvement at his latest preparation. Was a very strong winner first-up over 1200m in maiden grade last time in so resuming at this trip shouldn’t be an issue. Most recent 4th in BM72 grade was good enough to suggest he is up to this grade and he will appreciate getting in on the minimum with Maskiell’s claim. With the pressure coming from wide out his inside draw might not be ideal but with the right camp behind them and luck in running he appeals as one of the hardest to beat.
1. Antah: A very promising galloper who resumes here without a trial but considering his latest run was a win over 1880m and he started his last prep without a trial it shouldn’t be an issue. Ran consecutive 2nds in 3yo grade behind Gee Gee Red Prince over the sprint trips to begin his last prep and this doesn’t look any harder than that form. Has plenty of weight and might get buried away from the inside gate but class horse of the race and will be right in the finish with luck in running.
5. The Captain: Likely to run in Hobart on Tuesday but looks a good chance if saved to run here instead. Ran a close 3rd behind Elegatano here in the autumn which obviously ties in nicely here and has the ability to put himself in the box seat from a middle draw. Back onto firmer ground is a bonus and he should be in the mix again.
2. Son Of Faith: Had absolutely no luck last time out over this course in BM62 grade when he couldn’t get clear in the straight so that run can be forgiven. Was very well supported there so suggest he’s ready to produce and his form over this course last season was very good. Gets in as light as he ever has with McCarthy’s claim but has an outside draw to contend with. If he gets cover in the run and into the clear at the right time he is a definite winning hope.
11. Fill Ya Boots: Is coming through easier races but her last run in C3 grade over this course was good behind runaway winner Watch Over Me. May not have been ideally suited staying near the fence there which gave her run merit and should be cherry ripe here third-up. Drawn out but has the speed to come across into a good spot near the lead and gets in on the minimum weight. Toughest test but gets her chance to show up.
Next best Cuban Missile (decent on-pace effort last time when 3rd behind Watch Over Me, can lead here with no weight and has a hope) and Kentucky Bound (unbeaten fresh, trialling very nicely, ran a good 3rd behind Partenza and Underplay over this course last prep) but in a wide open leg of the quaddie concede winning chances to Livermore, Tycoon Gypsy and Aquila Reale.
Super race with many promising types engaged. Happy to go with Elegatano (6) who has always shown great promise and should be ready to fire here fresh, but respect to Antah (1) and Son Of Faith (2) who can be backed if they get to silly odds.
BACK (WIN) Elegatano for 4 units
Race 7 10:05pm Get Well Greg Mansfield Benchmark 62 Handicap (1400m)
Enough natural speed here to ensure a genuine tempo, with Steel Brom, Before All and Gee Gees Blondie all capable of running along in or near the lead. The stayers Solomon’s Song and Ultimate Doom won’t be far away, while Turtles Nest and Dillon Hall can roll into a spot from their wider draws.
9. Steel Brom: Was a strong winner over this course two starts back in C3 company before finding the mile a bit beyond her last time on a strong tempo. Back to the 1400m suits and she has the blinkers popped back on. Suited running along on a good tempo at this trip and should get the race run to suit. No surprise to see her bounce back here and she looks one of the better chances in an even race.
4. Gee Gees Blondie: Goes out to the 1400m for the first time after an acceptable effort last time at 1220m when she may have stacked them up just a little too much in front. Drawn out shouldn’t matter too much as she has the speed to roll forward and gets an important claim from Wong to get in with a reasonable weight. Obvious query at this trip but ready for it being deep into her prep and she is well up to this grade. Looks pretty well placed if she runs the 1400m right out.
7. Turtles Nest: Down to run at Hobart Tuesday but is ticking over nicely for a race like this should they choose to come here. Hasn’t done much wrong at all three runs and looks a much better horse having had a break after his tough 3yo prep. Placed behind Box Of Frogs over this trip on Launceston Cup day so the step up in trip won’t be a problem and he can come across with Gee Gees Blondie to land on speed. Definite chance.
5. Solomon’s Song: Metropolitan placed in Victoria over this distance so this trip looks ok off a slight let-up. Raced well at Devonport earlier this prep over the shorter trips before finding the longer races a bit beyond him. Has plenty of weight here but Pires stays with him and he finds one of the easier races he has contested in quite a while. Watch betting but suggest he is a major chance if he is ready to go.
3. Ultimate Doom: A tough one-paced staying type who comes here off a short break and under similar circumstances last time he ran 2nd to Private Currency over 1400m, albeit on wet ground. Takes some riding early to get into his favourite position near the lead so inside draw may get messy if he is not well away. Handles firmer ground alright but that might not bring the others back to him like he may need at this trip. Tricky horse to line up but does seem up to this grade.
Next best Downwind (ticking along ok but this distance has tested in the past) and Into The Night (won well in easier grade two back, forgive last run over unsuitable trip).
Another competitive race. Steel Brom (9) is much better suited coming back to 1400m and she can make her own luck on speed. Going with her in a tricky race.
BACK (WIN) Steel Brom for 2 units
Race 8 10:35pm John Taylor Class 1 Handicap (1400m)
Our Caption looked likely to roll to the lead here however connections have informed stewards she will be ridden back as she is up in distance, which throws the likely tempo into disarray. Jansz, Lyndspur, Marbel Duke and Please Dance look most likely to take up a forward position but none of these really appeal as on-pace types. Maybe Sir Marmaduke can take it up as he has done over longer trips but his last start was much better ridden back. Could get messy!
2. Black Hills: Racing in excellent form without winning as he often has too much to do from getting right back in the field in the run. Last time out he flashed home for 3rd behind Count Da Vinci in a very strong C1 over 1200m and will find this much easier. Goes to 1400m for the first time but has placed at 1350m at both tries and did have early speed earlier in his career so maybe the slower tempo will prove beneficial for him. Racing very well and will be hard to beat.
10. Zemiro: Has run well at both starts back from a spell in C5 company and makes the big drop back in class to a C1 here. Step up to 1400m is ideal and gets in light with Clark’s claim. Won his maiden by a big space over this course last season in a race of moderate tempo and may get a similar tempo here. Has strong claims.
8. Jansz: Got up in the last stride here a fortnight ago in 3yo maiden company but has always shaped as a filly looking to get out to 1400m and beyond. Stays down in the weights with Thornton’s claim and did show tactical speed early in this prep so she may be able to take up a position. Will find this a bit harder but on the up. Has a chance.
4. Our Caption: Finally broke through in good style last start, enjoying every chance on speed over 1200m. Goes to 1400m for the first time here with the blinkers off, but after looking like getting a good run on speed connections have announced the plan to ride back. Not sure where she’ll end up as a result and that signals some doubt from the stable at the trip but if she runs it out strongly she can be in the finish.
3. Lyndspur: Resumes here at 1400m with a trial under her belt. Got out to the Oaks trip as a 3yo and looks a staying type in the making so may be able to handle this trip first-up but it is still an ask. Mixed her form a bit in her first preparation but does have the ability to roll forward which could be a bonus here. Inclined to risk but wary of any positive betting support.
Next best Marbel Duke (blinkers go on and placed only run at 1400m so can improve here and may find a good spot on speed).
Plenty of respect for Black Hills (2) who is going very well, but think this is the race for Zemiro (10).
BACK (WIN) Zemiro for 6 units