Thoroughbred racing returns to Launceston under lights this Wednesday night with a quality eight race program featuring some promising gallopers returning to get ready for the carnival and another look at the new batch of 2yos. The rail returns to the True position after being out 6m last week and with good weather forecast a firm track can be expected.
R1 Hesketh McCrimmon 2yo Handicap (800m)
A mad dash over 800m for the 2yos and looks to be some speedy types who can vie for the lead. Gee Gee Cats showed in his win he has the speed to lead, but he will likely get pressure from outside with Il Regalo, Dothraki Princess and Derasa all capable of going fast early. Enzian and Pateena Arena are the other two who have shown some speed at the trials but are unlikely to be right there early.
1. Gee Gee Cats: The only horse with race experience here and showed himself to be very professional when leading all the way to win the first 2yo race of the season in Hobart. Has to carry 59kg for that win but shouldn’t be an issue over the really short trip. This looks a lot harder than his debut race off the trial form but he has the form on the board and is the one they have to beat.
7. Il Regalo: Won her only trial last week by a big seven length margin on her home track in Longford, showing very good speed out of the gates and she was never really let go in the straight. How much is there under pressure remains to be seen but the time was comparable with a number of trials for older horses on the day and her ability to jump and run will be half the battle here. Sure to have supporters and looks hard to beat.
5. Dothraki Princess: Comes here off one trial where she was beaten half a length by Gee Gee Cats on heavy ground. Showed plenty of speed there and had that horse covered for much of the trial which obviously lines up alright in this race. Well bred filly who looks a genuine winning hope on debut.
4. Derasa: Trialled very nicely at Devonport last week when easily accounting for Enzian over 800m and running a reasonable time for an early season 2yo. Looks a nice style of filly and with Raquel Clark aboard she looks the pick from the Campbell stable. Showed a bit when asked to click up late in her trial and she is another who has shown enough to be considered strongly here.
2. Geegee Blackprince: Was a scratching at the barriers for the first 2yo race of the season last week in Hobart. Beautiful type who is a half-brother to the champ Geegees Blackflash and did finish off well in his only trial. Gate 1 is unlikely to suit nor is the 800m trip against some speedy customers here but he can be finishing off late.
Next best Pateena Arena (bombed start in most recent trial, previous 2nd against older horses was alright and isn’t without some chance).
Potentially four smart 2yos to do battle here so expect a spirited betting race. Going to go around the one with race experience and go with Il Regalo off a speedy trial win and Dothraki Princess who arguably had the measure of Gee Gee Cats from the trials.
BACK (WIN) Dothraki Princess for 2 units
BACK (WIN) Il Regalo for 2 units
R2 7:20pm Longford Cup New Years Day Class 1 Handicap (1200m)
Big field and looks decent pressure with Gemini and Mel Loves Vodka looking for the lead from wider draws. Gee Gees Vicki and Sunset Party may look to kick up inside them, while Meteor Strike and Gotta Have Vibe will be working across from wider out also. Gallow Gate and maybe Steel Dan shouldn’t be too far away from their inside barriers.
2. Steel Dan: Showed plenty of ability at his first Tasmanian start a fortnight ago with a fast-finishing win in maiden grade over this course. Ran very good late sectionals for the night there coming off a slow tempo and should be fitter for that run being his first in 10 months. Goes to C1 grade which is always an ask but finds a pretty thin race with many of the main chances doing likewise. One of the better hopes.
5. Gemini: Another maiden winner from a fortnight ago over this course who ran faster overall time than Steel Dan but that was aided by a stronger tempo. Can go forward and make her own luck and should be just about spot on third-up from a spell. Up in grade but looks to have a bit of promise and can give a big sight.
1. Meteor Strike: Returns to this grade after disappointing in C2 company when sent out favourite. Led there which may not have suited and tuned up for this with a trial win last week over 1150m. Suggest he will be very fit for this and may be better suited stalking the speed from a wider draw. Class runner of the race and can bounce back.
3. Gallow Gate: Resumes from a spell which followed his breakthrough maiden win by 4 lengths over this course back in May. Has had one trial to prepare for this and has placed over 1200m first-up previously. Can box seat from the inside draw and rarely runs a bad race. Expect him to be right in the mix.
Next best Sunset Party (no weight, goes forward, not bad last few) and Mel Loves Vodka (not bad last time behind Amaword, no weight, goes forward, maybe not as well suited back to 1200m).
Tricky race with a number of these coming out of maiden grade. He has been proving costly but giving Meteor Strike (1) one more chance with the drop in grade and hopefully ridden a little quieter.
BACK (WIN) Meteor Strike for 2 units
R3 8:00pm Armidale Stud Maiden (1200m)
Expect plenty of pressure for the lead here with Classic Western, Pistol Jack and Miss Maneuver all wanting to be near the front. Mighty Hoffa has speed also, while the likes of Kaoru, Killin Falls, Kyogle Son, Kirby Jane and the debutant Husson’s Kiss can all look to get into a forward position. Those who settle off speed should get their chance.
5. Killin Falls: Resumed from a spell with a good 2nd behind Steel Dan over this course a fortnight ago. That followed a nice trial which suggested he had come on since a break from his first preparation. Draws well here and can be fitter for that first-up effort. Competitive race but wouldn’t have to improve too much to be hard to beat here.
8. Kygole Son: Has been gelded since a brief early 2yo campaign where he showed ability but still had plenty to learn. Trialled nicely at Devonport in prep for his return despite not running any time. Comes up with a tricky draw here but with good speed in the race they may string out a bit allowing him to slot in. Promising horse who can show up here so watch the market closely.
2. George’s Gambol: Resumes after a frustrating preparation which brought a number of placings but his maiden win avoided him. Usually races well at this track and has a 2nd behind Elegatano over this course to his credit. Does a bit wrong in his races but has the ability and won a trial easily leading into this. McCoull is a strong booking and if the penny has dropped he can be winning.
7. Pistol Jack: A speedy galloper who had a decent first preparation, culminating in a solid 2nd behind Hoffsetter over 1350m when the blinkers were applied. Won a trial leading into this and got out to 1400m pretty quick in his first prep so 1200m should be ok fresh. Plenty of pressure up front probably doesn’t suit him that well but if Clark can get him a nice run near the lead he can show up.
Next best Kaoru (fancied at last couple, things went awry last time, think this is a bit harder) and His Nibs (well-bred raw type, debut run ties in ok through George’s Gambol, probably needs this off long break but looks to have some ability).
Assuming Kyogle Son is going to run in the following race here. Going with Killin Falls (5) off a good first-up run and think that run may give him a key fitness edge over his main rivals.
BACK (WIN) Killin Falls for 4 units
Race 4 8:30pm Examiner 3yo Maiden (1100m)
All About Elouise and Bonjour Belle look the likely leaders here with the emergency Hellmuth capable of driving up from the inside draw if that’s how they want to ride him. Most of these will look to go forward, and with Kyogle Son and Gee Gees Rusty having wide draws to overcome and they may decide going forward is their only option. Another race to expect a strong tempo.
13. Hellmuth: May be unlikely to get a run here as a 3rd emergency but looks an excellent winning chance if he does. Has raced in provincial Victoria for John McArdle and acquitted himself quite well in some strong maiden company. Comes back to Graeme McCulloch, gets an ideal draw and Clark is a positive booking. Looks a horse with plenty of ability and no surprise to see him show up here if he gets a run.
11. Kygole Son: Has been gelded since a brief early 2yo campaign where he showed ability but still had plenty to learn. Trialled nicely at Devonport in prep for his return despite not running any time. Comes up with a tricky draw here but with good speed in the race they may string out a bit allowing him to slot in. Promising horse suited against his own age here and will take plenty of beating if the market support arrives for him.
1. Gee Gees Rusty: Resumes here after a solid 2yo preparation which included three 2nd placings, the most recent being behind the smart Hard Empire at Devonport. Had two runs over this course with a 2nd placing and a run which can be forgotten after striking all sorts of bad luck. Comes here with a trial under his belt and a good claim for Wong but has to deal with the outside draw. If he gets the right run he can win.
7. Bella Francesca: A half-sister to the Group 1 winner Palentino who has had three trials since an inconclusive debut run at Devonport. Looks to have her share of ability and is better suited out to 1100m. Wide draw might be suitable for Pires to work her forward into a position and she has plenty of gear changes for this. Watch the market and suggest she is the big improver here.
Next best Bonjour Belle (fast filly, finished off a bit better in her second prep, good form from her last run so in the mix) and Liffeybeau (on debut for M.S. Trinder, handy trial, Clark a positive booking, respect money for him).
Keen to back Hellmuth (13) should he get a run here but Kyogle Son (11) does look well placed otherwise. Should both not run here then look to Gee Gees Rusty (1) and watch the betting with Bella Francesca (7).
BACK (WIN) Kyogle Son for 3 units
R5 9:00pm LAFM Benchmark 62 Handicap (1600m)
Looks a much steadier tempo here with no genuine leader engaged. Zipped Up can go forward and find a spot near the lead while Sentry Duty and possibly Speed Force can take a position from inside barriers. Most of these tend to race in the second half of the field so those taking up a position look advantaged.
8. Speed Force: Has been very good at both starts back this prep over 1400m, the most recent being a narrow 2nd behind good 3yo Amaword. 1600m looks ideal third-up and with his turn of foot he looks suited settling closer to a steady tempo. This is a bit harder on paper than the C1 grade he has been racing in but don’t think it is overly difficult and he is a horse on the up. Looks hard to beat.
3. Zipped Up: Backed up a big maiden win on wet ground with an arguably better win last time here over this course on firm ground in C1 grade. Has the ability to go forward and also shows a nice turn of foot, both which should be advantages in a race like this. Has plenty of weight for a mare here but has more scope than most of these and no reason she can’t win again.
6. Sentry Duty: Has strung together a couple of placings in higher grade at this track at his past couple of runs and now looks ready to tackle the mile at his 5th run in from a spell. Gets in well with Maher’s claim and looks advantaged taking up a position on speed. Has form around some handy horses but finds a pretty thin race here so he appeals as one of the better chances.
12. New Vision: Can mix her form but her past three runs have all been good, with 2nd placings at her past couple. Placed over this course in this grade two starts ago and again ran well last time back to 1400m. Back to a mile looks perfect and Clark is a great booking with her claim bringing her in under the minimum. Looks well placed for another good showing.
Next best The Princeling (very inconsistent but in well with claim and both runs over this course have resulted in placings) and Princess Atilla (excuses last time, previous form solid around New Vision and may roll forward so
Think the two on the up, Speed Force (8) and Zipped Up (3), are the ones to work around here. Lean to Speed Force (8) who comes out of harder races and looks a horse with a future.
BACK (WIN) Speed Force for 8 units
R6 9:30pm Chilli FM Benchmark 72 Handicap (1400m)
Expect My Paige Three to roll to the front as she has been doing and she may not cop much pressure in doing so. Spihro may roll forward from wider out, while Wanaea and Hyperbole can take up a spot on speed. Those racing near the lead should get every chance on paper.
7. My Paige Three: Racing in excellent form, having won 3 of her past 4 with a nose defeat to subsequent multiple winner Magnasa the other start. All her runs this prep have been on wet ground or synthetic so strikes something different here on firm ground but ran a good 3rd in a hot race in her only start here on good ground last year. Should get a very comfortable run near the lead and is well weighted. Good chance in a strong race.
8. Speckie: Was heavily backed last time after a good first-up win and was only narrowly beaten when 3rd behind Wanaea here over 1200m. Up to 1400m looks ideal and he was well performed over this course in this grade last season without winning. Would ideally prefer a bit more pressure in front but is in light with Wong’s claim and has drawn out a bit to allow him to work into the race down the side. Hasn’t missed a place in his last 10 runs so expect him to be right in the finish again.
2. Hyperbole: Resumed with a gutsy win in good company in Hobart on soft ground. Has had three and a half weeks to get over that run but it may leave her a little vulnerable second-up at the 1400m, especially with the steadier of 59kg. That said, she does love this distance and likes firm ground. Can be in the first half of the field and looks one of the better hopes in a tough race.
3. Siorca: Comes here off a short let-up after a good winter campaign at Devonport which culminated in a win in the Distance Final which was as impressive as you will ever see. Has always promised plenty but often finds one better with just 4 wins for a horse of his quality. Probably settles back but with Clark on from an inside draw it would be no shock to see him take up a position fresh and he is right in the mix as always.
1. Player One: Resumes here without a trial after a promising but ultimately frustrating Cups campaign last season. Resumed over this course last season with a super narrow 2nd behind Jakcorijim before being placed at WFA over this course third-up behind Admiral so he is more than capable at this shorter trip. Very well weighted with Graham’s claim. Tempo may be against but if he gets the right cart into the race he could very easily finish over the top of them.
Next best Wanaea (good win last time, this is harder but can go forward) and Keukenhof (rarely runs a bad race and races well here, doesn’t win often).
My Paige Three (7) appeals off the likely tempo and gets her chance to dictate terms. Think there are as many as 6 genuine winning hopes however and if horses can make ground the Player One (1) does appeal as a knockout result.
BACK (WIN) Player One for 1 unit
R7 10:05pm Wordsmith Newmarket 16 November Class 2 Handicap (1400m)
Looks reasonable pressure here with Exclusive Saturday and Alilad capable of taking up the running. Secrets She Has won’t be far away, nor will Geegees Drummerboy or Turtles Nest from a good draw. Expecting a genuinely run race.
7. Secrets She Has: Has the blinkers go on for the first time here after a couple of solid 3rds over this distance at her past couple of runs. Likes this track and this is her right trip. Can take up a good spot near the lead from a good draw so if the blinkers switch her on she appeals as a strong winning chance.
3. Turtles Nest: Is racing consistently this prep and ready for 1400m now after four runs at 1200m and below. Draws to get a nice smother behind them and gets in light with Graham’s claim. May need luck and a cool ride from where he gets to in the run but if he gets it he is definitely a winning chance.
4. Hushama: Has had four weeks off since a good 4th behind Before All when unsuited by the tempo of the race. Kept up to the mark with a quiet trial and now gets out to 1400m for the first time. Gets a nice claim with Clark aboard and suited by pressure up front. If she can slot in from the wide draw and horses can run on she looks a genuine run-on chance.
10. Hoffsetter: Was very good fresh when getting up the inside to run 2nd behind Gee Gees Sun Valley here a fortnight ago. Up to 1400m looks pretty suitable but probably has to go right back from the outside draw. Hasn’t missed a top 2 finish at her past 6 runs so very consistent and still seems to be improving. If the pressure is on up front, then she will be hard to hold out late.
Next best Alilad (every chance in front last time but still ran well, some hope from a good draw).
Even race. Think the blinkers may bring out the best of Secrets She Has (7) and she can go close with a good run on speed. If the pressure goes on too much for her in front, then Hoffsetter (10) may be the one blousing them late.
BACK (WIN) Secrets She Has for 4 units
BACK (WIN) Hoffsetter for 2 units
R8 10:35pm Book your Christmas Function Maiden/Class 1 Handicap (2100m)
Many of these have shown the inclination to roll forward so this should be a genuinely run affair. King Shaka and Rialto Jess have been able to take up the lead in the past over this trip, but they may competition from Mac ‘N’ Muhcu or Northern Command rolling forward. Newcomers to the trip Sparkling Moon, Intriguingly and Union Boss all have the speed to be near the lead if desired and Sh’bourne Dylaca took up a position last time also. Expect a true staying test.
10. Intriguingly: Comes here off four 1600m runs so the fitness base should be there for her first try at the 2100m. Has run top 4 at all 5 runs in the state including four 3rds, with the most recent being a solid 3rd at this track in a fast run race behind Strathalbyn. That looks a great base to take into this off the quick back-up and David Pires takes the ride now. Looks really well placed.
2. Another Brother: Has found himself too far back at his past couple of runs here before working home solidly at the finish. First try at this staying trip but looks to be crying out for it and the run behind Strathalbyn should be a good base to attempt it off on the quick back-up. McCoull sticks with him again which is a good sign and should get plenty of pressure unfolding in front of him. Definite hope.
11. Sh’bourne Dylaca: Ran a reasonable race in higher grade over this course last time when 4th behind Remorse. Was able to take up a position closer to the lead than usual there and that run measures up well for a race like this. The runs over the trip may prove an advantage with a few of these stepping up to it for the first time so she appeals as one of the better chances.
8. Rialto Jess: Had four weeks between runs since a good 2nd behind Treat Me Right over this course. Goes forward and makes her own luck which can be a bonus in these weaker staying affairs but there must be a slight fitness query on her with that break between runs. Honest mare who rarely runs a bad race and should be around the mark again.
6. Mac ‘N’ Muhcu: Has the blinkers come off here as he steps to the 2100m for the first time. Has form at the shorter trips around Intriguingly and Another Brother which looks to measure up for this but instead comes off a very slowly run mile race a fortnight ago. Has had plenty of chances but recent efforts have been consistent enough and can forgive last run when buried back on inside. Has a hope if he runs the trip.
Next best Union Boss (another having first try this trip, run two starts ago very good for this, distance doubt but can win if he runs it).
Intriguingly (10) brings the right form and the right preparation here so appeals as the logical top pick. Another Brother (2) potentially has the most scope in the race so is worth saving on out to his right trip.
BACK (WIN) Intriguingly for 6 units
BACK (WIN) Another Brother for 2 units