WIDDEN STUD SHOWCASE BENCHMARK 66 HANDICAP Tips (Race 2)
Muswellbrook Next Best Bet - Race 2 No. 1 Eva's Deel
Trainer Kody Nestor is striking at 20% this year (nine winners) and will be looking to build on that early on the Muswellbrook program with this daughter of Dundeel, who looks well suited by the step up to the 1750m now third-up from a spell.
Very unlucky in a few Highway attempts last campaign, Eva's Deel got a much-deserved victory on December 5 over 1800m before being spelled and has been hard to fault in two performances this preparation, but is clearly in need of the extra distance after her fourth-place finish in a Country Championships Qualifier.
Apprentice Liam Blanch now gets the reins and along with taking an important 2kg off with his claim, he was aboard this mare back in October when managing to settle her handy, a tactic he'll likely need to adopt again given she has drawn barrier one and there isn't a stack of speed in this field.
BHP MT ARTHUR COAL WAYNE HARRIS SHOWCASE HANDICAP Tips (Race 4)
Muswellbrook Best Bet - Race 4 No. 1 Two Big Fari
Rumours of a recent virus with this gelding certainly isn't what we want to hear, but he has trialled up twice in readiness for his return and even with the big weight, is clearly the class galloper in this line-up, bringing strong form lines from his last preparation.
A seven-time winner from 12 career starts, Two Big Fari has been a very genuine performer over the journey and following a competitive showing in last year's Country Championships Final, returned with a big win over the Grafton Carnival, racing three-wide throughout with 59kg and still recorded a soft victory
After finding the Kosciuszko a little slick fresh in the spring, the five-year-old was only beaten two lengths in a Benchmark 88 in town before saluting in a Benchmark 78, defeating Great News, who won either side of that, including a dominant first-up victory recently which resulted in her becoming the early favourite for the Provincial Championships Final.
WARREN TURNER ELECTRICAL SHOWCASE CLASS 2 HANDICAP Tips (Race 5)
Muswellbrook Value Bet - Race 5 No. 3 Ready To Roam
An ex-Queensland runner that is now under the care of Damian Lane, he was reeled in by the useful Depth That Varies first-up for the new yard, a sprinter that's rated above anything in this line-up and second-up, contested a Benchmark 64 at Provincial level.
While the seventh-place finish from a field of eight doesn't read well, he had excuses given how strongly that 1100m Gosford event was run, with Beach Baby pushing forward and hassling both Ready To Roam and Khitaamy, resulting in all three of those runners understandably dropping out.
This gelding was generally ridden a little colder so with the blinkers coming off and a senior hoop now on, they may just elect for a little more of a sit on this occasion while coming back to a Country Class 2 Handicap, this is about the weakest grade he's ever contested as a galloper that mostly competed in Brisbane,
HUNTER THOROUGHBRED BREEDERS ASSOCIATION MUSWELLBROOK GOLD CUP SHOWCASE Tips (Race 8)
Muswellbrook Feature Tip - Race 8 No. 5 Itz Lily
A mare that was very consistent in Sydney throughout last autumn and winter, she just couldn't crack it for a win but off a spell and returning in December, went back-to-back, taking out the $150,000 Provincial Summer Series in her most recent victory before a Magic Millions tilt.
Although she was beaten in quite a strong Gold Coast field behind Paradee and co, Itz Lily was going from a pair of wet track outings to a Good 4, which she does handle but looks to have really found her sweet spot on soft and heavy surfaces, which she'll get in the 2021 Muswellbrook Cup (track currently a Heavy 9).
Her two trials leading into this Country feature have been faultless but the tactics from barrier one is where this could very well be won and lost, so we're looking for jockey Alysha Collett to at least give her a chance early and have her midfield at worst, if not trailing a little closer from that inside gate.