Longford hosts its traditional Cup meeting on New Year’s Day with this year’s 7 race program granted full prizemoney and the strongest meeting seen here for many years. With the tight track, field sizes are limited to 8 runners except for the Cup which will see 10 go around. As of Saturday the track was rated a Soft 7 but with fine weather forecast this may improve considerably before the meeting begins and get to the better side of soft.
Race 1 Doug Towns Maiden (1200m)
Not a lot of pressure here and no clear leader. Crowbar has the speed to go forward and should be somewhere near the lead, while Shivida likely pushes on from his outside draw. Biscay Barb settled closer last time and can be on the speed with Carr on. In Bloom has blinkers on for the first time and that may help her race closer to the speed than usual. Gee Gee Mightymiss may kick up from the inside fresh. Few possibles to be near the lead but without obvious pressure the ones who end up there may be advantaged. However, should the emergencies Husson’s Kiss and Annie’s Shiraz get a start, they can add further pressure for the front.
Biscay Barb (1) has come back in good shape after having a brief let-up since his winter campaign. His last four runs have all had merit, and he has shown better early speed at his past couple of starts, so much so that he box seated last time over 1200m. Up to 1400m here with a good draw and Siggy Carr aboard so expect him to settle closer to the speed again which will be valuable around this circuit. Ran a good 3rd behind Della Terra last time and that form is good enough for this. Looks well placed.
Crowbar (2) is a temperamental type who showed speed last time when fancied behind Della Terra but he weakened on his run late. Better suited up to 1400m, a trip over which he ran a narrow 2nd behind Impulsive Lager at his previous start. Can be in the first couple and in well with Maher’s claim. Can improve to be one of the better chances in this.
Wyuna (8) is a filly with potential who was unwanted in betting first-up when 3rd behind Gee Gee Royal Miss over 1100m. Better suited up to the 1400m here but showed very little early speed first-up so will likely be well back in the run. It can be hard to run down the on-pacers on this track if they get a comfortable run so that is her biggest obstacle. Maybe the best horse in the race but will need some luck in the run. In with a hope.
In Bloom (5) is a well-bred filly who has been ok at her two runs back from a spell. Has been running on at all her career starts so the rise to 1400m looks a plus. Has blinkers on for the first time here so Clark may be able to land her closer to the speed. Shapes to get a good run and wasn’t too far behind a couple of the major chances here last time so she is in the mix.
Mag Wheels (6) has run well at both starts from a spell and was arguably unlucky not to win when 3rd behind Quiet Wonder at her most recent start. Stays down in the weights and being drawn out should suit. Should get back so will be at the mercy of the tempo but if the pressure goes on she can be finishing off well. Some hope.
Next best Gee Gee Mightymiss (4) (resumes after a spell, has some speed and a good draw so may get the right run to show up in the placings).
Quite a competitive race to kick off the day where as many as 5 of them are going well enough to be considered genuine winning hopes. Prefer to work with the on-pacers Biscay Barb (1) and Crowbar (2), with the former building nicely to a win and he should get the right run to get his chance here.
BACK (E/W) Biscay Barb for 3 units
Race 2 T A Bricknell Maiden (1400m)
The speed will be right on here. Silver Reset will be looking for the lead from the outside draw but Fashion Tycoon is likely to kick up and hold him out. Cheap Trick, Liffey Lad, Pop A Lefty and Argentic can all be near the lead so expect the pressure to be on.
Silver Reset (4) is a fast on-pacer who has run game 2nds at all three runs this prep. Goes to 1400m for the first time but this is the right track for him to attempt it. Looks to have competition for the lead but should at least get outside the lead and his short sprint will be suited by the short straight of this track. Has the right form, is trained on the track and gets his chance to break through.
Argentic (1) ran well first-up at his first run for the Brunton stable when he wasn’t too far away behind Taramaya after covering ground in the run. Pires goes on here and he may get a good trail behind the leaders if they go quick early. 1400m at this track second-up should be suitable and this doesn’t look any harder. Brings different form to this and should run well with the right run.
George’s Gambol (2) has run 3rd at all four runs this prep in some reasonable maidens so he has the form to be very competitive here. Arguably should have won two starts back when he ran into a dead end in the straight before running alright last time when unsuited by the tempo. The speed should be on to suit here but this can be a hard track to win at when back in the field. Has had plenty of chances but always runs well and if they carve up in front he’s the one to round them up from the back.
Cheap Trick (5) comes here off a handy 4th behind Gee Gee Rich Ruby where she finished alongside George’s Gambol. Was better suited by the tempo there than he was but looks better suited by this track this time and may kick up into a gun spot from the inside draw. Has had her chances but still has scope for improvement and should get every chance in the run. Expect her to be thereabouts.
Fashion Tycoon (6) has been easily handled at both runs for Adam Trinder but has showed a bit of improvement and has led the field up on both occasions. Leading them up here around this track is always a bonus and she was only a couple of lengths behind George’s Gambol and Cheap Trick last time. Needs to improve again and unlikely to get much peace in front with Silver Reset up outside her but may stick on into a place.
Next best Tilmosa (8) (handy 2nd first-up, extra trip suits but will find this harder and not as well suited around this track despite being trained here).
Silver Reset (4) looks well suited around this course and if he can cross to the fence he will be very hard to run down. Prefer to risk George’s Gambol (2) around this track and looking to Argentic (1) as the hardest to beat with the sit behind the leaders.
BACK (WIN) Silver Reset for 4 units
BACK (WIN) Argentic for 1 unit
Race 3 Queens Arms Hotel Benchmark 62 Handicap (1400m)
Looks genuine speed here but not necessarily great pressure once they find their positions. Cuban Missile and Dehughes look like fighting out the lead but Dehughes will probably win that battle if they want to go fast with Cuban Missile happy to take the sit. Schillie Billie will sit behind them with Danwish and Willby Rules the other on-pacers. Unless they declare it on up front it looks like those rolling on speed will get their chance. Emergencies Zipped Up and Spihro will land near the lead if they get a start but Sea Ruler would be the only emergency to provide genuine competition for the lead.
Cuban Missile (3) continues to race well without winning with his most recent effort a game 2nd behind the smart mare Genuine Art. Goes forward and makes his own luck which is ideal at this track and won’t find this any harder than what he has been contesting this prep. Should get the right run from a good draw and any sting out won’t hurt. The query with him is he has failed at all four runs over 1400m but he couldn’t be any fitter to attempt it. Looks like getting the right run to win here but the last bit will be the key.
Schillie Billie (8) has been racing very well since being ridden a bit quieter, with a strong 2nd behind subsequent winner Gallow Gate at Launceston followed up by a close-up 2nd behind handy 3yo Count Montagu in Hobart. Goes up in grade here but 1400m is her right trip and she has the right racing pattern for this track. Looks like getting every possible chance just behind the speed with the other on-pacers drawn outside her and she stays down in the weights. Expect her to be in the finish again.
Willby Rules (6) hasn’t shown up in 2 runs in from a spell but had excuses first-up when not too far away from The Master Speed before finding the 3yo Cup too hot. Count Montagu has come out of that race and won since beating Schillie Billie so the form ties in alright here and he will appreciate the step up to 1400m. The outside draw may be tricky but Pires goes on and he has winkers on for the first time so expect him to be ridden aggressively which may help him slot in. Expecting sharp improvement here and he has genuine winning claims.
Speckie (2) continues to race well in higher grade and wasn’t bad last time behind My Paige Three when unsuited by the tempo. Placings behind horses such as Siorca, Tshahitsi and Treasury Bond this year all read incredibly well for a race like this but he has 60kg, a poor winning strike rate and a racing pattern which needs luck at the best of times, let alone around a track like Longford. No pot on his class edge but he will need things run to suit to be able to round them up here.
Dehughes (4) resumes from a spell here after a good winter campaign where he relished his home track at Devonport to prove himself in this grade with some good front-running performances. Had one start here which saw him win his maiden by a big space over this trip on this day last year so he knows what to do. May cross the field from his wide draw and give them something to chase so can’t be underestimated.
Next best Golden Kiss (5) (returned in very nice style behind Classic Outlaw at Devonport, step up in trip suits but not sure this track does so will need luck from back in the field).
Best of the emergencies Spihro (11) (two runs back have been ok in better class races, tough on-pacer proven in better grade who can get the right run to win here should he gain a start).
Competitive race. Think the value may lie with the 3yo Willby Rules (6) who can improve out to this trip and being ridden near the lead but many of these have some winning hope.
BACK (E/W) Willby Rules for 2 units to win and 1 unit to place.
Race 4 Sues of Invermay Benchmark 72 Handicap (1400m)
Doesn’t look to be a genuine leader here so expect Watch Over Me and Dangerpet work across to take up the running ahead of Minute Repeater. This means the likes of Beaufort Lad, Follow My Dust and O’Reillys Geegee can settle a bit closer than they may otherwise have. Emergency Spihro will be in the mix to lead if he gains a start and would rate a winning chance as a result.
Watch Over Me (8) has been up a long time but shows no signs of slowing down, with her last start 2nd behind My Paige Three as honest as ever. Has been racing well now up to 1400m with a pair of close-up 3rds previous to her last run showing she is right up to this grade. Shapes like getting a great run on speed and if Clark can find the front against the fence she won’t have to deal with any issues of the mare wanting to lay in as she has done recently. Very well suited and clearly hardest to beat here.
Minute Repeater (2) gets a good drop in grade here after two reasonable runs behind Gee Gees Jet and Lord Da Vinci to kick off this prep for new trainer Yassy Nishitani. Hasn’t raced at this track but is trained here now. Hasn’t raced in this grade for a long time and gets down to 60kg with Steph Thornton’s claim. Has won 3 races over this trip and can land in a gun spot from the inside draw. Definite claims.
Beaufort Lad (3) continues to race well with his recent 3rd behind My Paige Three full of merit after being unsuited by the tempo and the drop back in trip. Stays at 1400m again as he gets deeper into his prep which doesn’t look ideal but he shouldn’t get too far back with not much pressure in the race. Has plenty of weight again but is trained on the track which is never a bad thing. Proven in this grade and his form ties in with the better chances in this. Should be in the mix again.
Follow My Dust (7) comes here first-up off the back off two trials and with Pires on you would expect him to be ready to go first-up. Generally races well fresh but at shorter trips than this. That said, he does race well over this distance and from a good draw he should land in the first half of the field. Proven in this grade and can show up with the right run.
O’Reillys Geegee (4) won well two starts back when ridden by Craig Newitt before finishing near the tail at his latest run. Has won 3 races over this trip and is proven in this grade. Comes up with a very tricky draw here which looks a major obstacle to his chances and a few of these have had his measure in the past. Prefer him on a place basis.
Next best Dangerpet (5) (wasn’t terrible first-up as covered a lot of ground in the run and was only beaten 5L, may roll forward into a good spot here and with a run under his belt he can improve).
Watch Over Me (8) has been knocking on the door and looks to have found her right race with a bit less pressure up front. Look to Minute Repeater (2) as the hardest to beat and Dangerpet (5) as the best roughie.
BACK (WIN) Watch Over Me for 8 units.
Race 5 Tasmanian Livestock Services Maiden (1800m)
Most of these can be near the lead so expect a genuinely run race where they all get their chance. Heaps Of Heart and Totally Wicked look most likely to take up the lead, but all of these can be looking to at least box seat with maybe the exception of On A String.
Totally Wicked (4) is racing consistently over the mile with three 2nds in a row before a close-up 7th in a blanket finish last start. Hasn’t raced over this trip yet but ready for it and can get into a good spot near the lead. Has had the measure of many of his rivals here at recent runs and looks well placed. Leading chance here.
Vivre Star (5) jumped sharply to the mile last time and was ridden back from the wide barrier in an on-pacers race so he had excuses and didn’t run too badly considering. From an inside draw and over the longer trip expect him to be much closer to the speed with Clark back on and his previous runs were all solid enough for a race like this. Gets to 1800m for the first time but bred to run it. Appears to get every opportunity here and one of the better hopes.
Intriguingly (7) found the 1400m a bit sharp last time behind Gee Gee Rich Ruby and looks much better suited here back up to the 1800m. In light with Steph Thornton’s claim and should get a good run from an inside draw. Has been up a long time but form ties in with Totally Wicked from two runs ago and she can handle any sting out. Should be around the mark again.
Heaps Of Heart (6) may take up the running here which is always a little bonus around this track. Found the pressure on speed too much last time in Hobart which followed a run down the track behind White Hawk where he got back further than he usually does. Previous two runs in Hobart over 1400m when allowed to roll on speed were quite good and enough to be competitive in a race like this. Goes to 1800m for the first time but bred to run it and should enjoy rolling along near the lead at a slower tempo. Genuine improver and can win at longer odds.
Northern Command (2) has his first run for the Peter Luttrell stable here after previously racing for Alana Fulton. Found his best form when he got to 2100m but 1800m should be pretty suitable off a bit of a freshen. That 50 day break is a bit of a query fitness wise but expect Luttrell to have had this race planned considering he is a local trainer. He is a one-paced type who may have trouble slotting in from the wide draw but at least it will give him the opportunity to work around the field into a forward position if desired. Can be in the finish if ready with the right run.
Next best Euro Express (1) (on-pacer suited at this track and form ties in with Totally Wicked from two runs back so not the worst).
Even race with not much between most of these and the better rides will probably win the race. Think Vivre Star (5) will improve sharply here and Heaps Of Heart (6) may prove value if he can find his earlier form from this prep, but no knock on the favourite Totally Wicked (4).
BACK (WIN) Vivre Star for 2 units
BACK (WIN) Heaps Of Heart for 1 unit
Race 6 Cressy Chaff Cutters Jim Osborne Longford Cup (1800m)
Last year’s winner Miss It And A Bit looks likely to find the front as she usually does and shouldn’t have too much competition despite many of these being able to race near the lead. Kanji is the one who may test her out for the lead but he was happy to take a sit last time. Demons Run from a better draw, Gladstone, Smoke ‘N’ Whisky, Zigold and Cheryl’s Horse can all look to settle near the lead which may result in some pressure up front and turn this into a genuine race.
Miss It And A Bit (4) won this race last year when leading all the way and shapes to get the same run again here. Back in the winner’s circle two starts back when an all-the-way winner over Valdez before finding the Tasmanian Stakes too hot last time. Improving track suits and doesn’t look to be too much pressure for the lead. This is as far as she wants but she looks hardest to beat in a good quality Cup.
Demons Run (3) is a classy stayer on the Cups path who has done enough at three runs over shorter trips. Draws an inside barrier here and Pires jumps on for the first time this prep so think we will see him settle much closer to the speed. Has only been beaten once past 1600m and will appreciate any genuine sting out of the track. Well weighted and primed to peak 4th up. Looks the main danger.
Gladstone (1) is a very honest on-pacer who placed at Flemington over 1400m three starts back to begin this campaign. Outclassed at WFA last time but only finished a length and a half behind Miss It And A Bit. Ready for this trip now and can take up a spot on the speed from the good draw. Has plenty of weight which looks the main negative but very honest and should be there for a long way.
Kanji (6) was very good first-up in the Golden Mile when beaten in a photo by Sound Bar before being a bit one-paced behind Geegees Baritone last time. Wants this longer trip and will appreciate a stronger tempo. If he is ridden aggressively he will be suited around this track and can run much more like his first-up run. Not hopeless.
Valdez (7) has been ticking over alright and put in his best run for the prep when 2nd last time behind Miss It And A Bit. Wants this trip and last time he got to this distance range he ran 2nd in the Distance Final behind Siorca in the winter. Gets down in the weights and will appreciate a genuine tempo. Needs things to go his way but capable if they do.
Next best Smoke ‘N’ Whisky (5) (ticking over ok, beat home Demons Run last time, gets to home track and big drop in weight, not the worst).
Good quality Longford Cup. Last year’s winner Miss It And A Bit (4) will take plenty of running down but think it is time for Demons Run (3) to get fair dinkum this prep on his way to the Cups.
BACK (E/W) Demons Run for 2 units
Race 7 Woolmers Estate Bicentennial Benchmark 62 Handicap (1800m)
Solomon’s Song and Gold Librettist come from wide draws to run to the lead here ahead of Sh’bourne Dylaca and Big Pegg. The rest of these generally race midfield or worse so once they find their positions here the on-pacers may get their chance to control the speed, making them hard to run down.
Solomon’s Song (3) is racing in good form, following a close 2nd behind The Master Speed with a good 3rd last time behind Speed Force and Olly’s A Star. Can go forward and make his own luck and could very well roll to the front here from his wide draw. In well with Steph Thornton’s claim and will appreciate the drop in grade. Failed only two tries beyond a mile in this state is the main query with him but he has placed over 2000m in Victoria. Finds a pretty suitable race and will take some beating.
Sh’bourne Dylaca (6) has had over a month off since a game 2nd behind Big Pegg over 2100m. Slight drop in trip looks suitable off that break and should still be fit enough after four 2100m runs in a row. Trained on the track so suggest this race has been a target for a while and has developed the early speed to find a good position just behind the leaders in this. Improving staying mare who has form that should measure up here and she may be a popular home town winner of the last.
Big Pegg (4) was very disappointing last start behind Milson but may have needed the run after a month’s break between races. Previous form was very solid including a win over Sh’bourne Dylaca and placings over 2100m. Won her only start over this course last year from back in the field which was full of merit so no worries around this course with Pires likely to have her closer to the lead this time around. Can improve with the run under her belt and she looks a genuine winning chance.
Olly’s A Star (1) is one of the best horses in this race and gets in light with Graham’s 4kg claim. He goes to 1800m for the first time but all three of his runs on the turf this prep have been very good. His major issue is his racing pattern as he has been getting back to last in his races and he will face a major ask circling this field. Has the right form but will need luck around this track.
Gold Librettist (2) found form once he got out to 2450m with a game on-pace win and has carried that form and racing style to a couple of good 2nds since over 2100m. Not sure dropping back to 1800m is what he is looking for but the fact he can race near the lead is beneficial at this track. Doesn’t appear to be well weighted against some of these but is a tough on-pacer in form and should be around the mark.
Next best New Vision (8) (racing very consistently but poor winning strike rate and hasn’t won for a long time, definite place claims).
Think the winner will come from the top three chances here. Lean to Sh’bourne Dylaca (6) with the home track advantage but no great confidence.
BACK (E/W) Sh’bourne Dylaca for 1 unit.