Race 1 - 1:15PM TAB HIGHWAY PLATE Tips (1500 METRES)
With a Metropolitan rating of 87, I doubt there is a better weighted/placed galloper in the country on Saturday than 1. AL MAH HAHA who now finds himself in a Set Weights, Class 3 Highway after a fair effort behind a dominant Order Again on January 2.
Following a win over a Stakes-class Chat in the Goulburn Cup, the son of Al Maher competed in The Gong prior to a very competitive showing in the Group Two Villiers, form lines his opposition here could only dream of. He doesn't exactly win out of turn, but is an obvious selection here and should start shorter.
9. Proven Class has been a regular Highway participant over the spring and now summer, with an October win and now two placing's, including a narrow defeat to Banger last start with a two length space to third. She's at least a top three hope again.
Two at longer prices that can improve third-up include 7. Baileys (Scratched)
who was set an impossible task second-up but is going well and the form has been okay around him along with 13. Dancing Dollar ($21.00 @ Palmerbet)
who covered more ground than the early settlers in the Magic Millions Country Cup but won fresh, and draws kinder here.
Race 2 - 1:50PM WIDDEN STAKES (1100 METRES)
With five first starters who haven't exactly trialled the house down and three of the raced-brigade being first-up, this is a very tough two-year-old race to sort out but from a good map, 2. VIANELLO is arguably one of the safer options.
This Godolphin filly was a slick winner at Newcastle on debut prior to her Randwick attempt on Boxing Day, where although she still closed off well, had every chance and due to a freshen-up, has had a nice tick over trial. With face fitness over her rivals and expected take close position from a low draw, there's enough in her favour.
The favourite 1. Mallory has the Enthaar debut form, making some ground for second in that Gimcrack Stakes but was well beaten as a 20/1 chance and is now $2.40-ish off an okay trial? Somewhat looks the obvious but too short for mine in a race with many question marks around it and barrier two is maybe a little sticky (has shown no early speed to date)
3. Total Babe was a $7 chance in that same race, beaten a further half a length back into third and beat the Wyong 2yo Magic Millions winner in an early January trial. She's expected to take the lead while 8. Zentime is arguably pick of the un-raced having improved out of sight in two January trials since a September heat when well held.
Race 3 - 2:25PM CANONBURY STAKES Tips (1100 METRES)
By I Am Invincible and of out of a half-sister to dual Group One winner Russian Revolution is the superbly bred debutant 9. HOME AFFAIRS who led throughout for a professional win in a January 15 heat which was just shaded for the fastest 900m trial that morning.
An $875,000 yearling purchase and stepping out at Group Two level, they'll be looking to strike early with this Coolmore-owned colt who has the services of James McDonald in this Group Three, which is as good of a lead as any, given he had sat on all three Waller runners in the field, which includes a city winner.
While he appears likely to improve in another preparation, I've really liked the look of 8. Giannis in his two public trials, working every bit as well as Stay Inside via the latest and that runner was an impressive winner last Saturday. One to keep an eye on going forward if it's not to be this week.
4. Zethus backed-up an eye-catching trial to place behind Golden Slipper fancy Remarque on January 16. He'll likely get back again, however and one bringing a nice second on debut behind the subsequent Gold Coast 2yo Magic Millions winner Shaquero is 3. Construct (Scatched). Solid in two trials leading in into this but hasn't exactly been a vintage out of the gates on either occasion.
Race 4 - 3:00PM ANZ BLOODSTOCK NEWS HANDICAP Tips (2000 METRES)
A run-of-the-mill and typically competitive Benchmark 78 staying affair which sees lightly raced import 8. GREAT HOUSE as favourite following a fair debut over the mile at Flemington when third behind a fit and in-form pair that filled the quinella.
While this is a little harder, the 4.5kg drop in the weights is quite significant and with the son of Galileo saluting over 12 furlongs at start two in Europe, the extra 400m here is a big plus. Impossible to predict where his ceiling is but does seem to have more upside than a lot of well exposed opposition in this line-up.
3. Harpo Marx is racing very consistently and is the in-form runner of this event. While the wide gate is no knock with his racing pattern, the predicted rain on Friday is a concern (won a Soft 7 but didn't quite let down on a Heavy 8 two starts back).
Respect the back-up, drop in grade and blinkers for 7. California Longshot (Scratched) who although is limited, this race is within his grasp and the Nash Rawiller booking is a big tick. The leader looks to be 1. Vadiyann who went too hard when reeled in a fortnight back but if rated a little softer, is the one they'll have to catch.
Race 5 - 3:40PM ROSEHILL BOWLING CLUB HANDICAP (1400 METRES)
Dropping in grade third-up and now rising to 1400m looks the perfect recipe for 6. MARSANNAY to be peaking now. The son of Snitzel was three-wide and ran into third via the Gosford Guineas first-up with Malkovich and The Face being subsequent city winners from that event.
He fared no better second-up, racing three-wide once more but stuck on gamely for third. That form reads very well for this, especially around The Astrologist (90-rater), who had a kinder run and was very competitive the following Saturday in the Magic Millions Cup. With Tim Clark aboard, expect the handlebars to be down early and for this colt to look for the lead.
While the winning strike rate is poor, another that is well placed third-up is 5. Derbari who went from Heavy ground to Good second-up, which was the wrong set-up in a slowly run affair with 60kg, albeit it was only a Provincial 68. Any further rain is a plus for him.
1. Starla (Scratched) is becoming a professional placegetter but this is the easiest event she's seen in a while. Wet track maybe the knock for her and an improved showing at big odds could come from 2. Matowatakpe (Scratched). He did plenty of work fresh before being completely unsuited dropping to 1100m second-up. Seven furlongs is a tick and he handles any conditions.
Race 6 - 4:20PM SCHWEPPES HANDICAP Tips (1400 METRES)
At 32.82, 4. STARSPANGLED RODEO (Scratched) rattled off the fastest last 600m of the January 16 Rosehill program which did follow two strong trials and given he was a little tardy away, which isn't common for him, the lightly raced six-year-old couldn't have performed any better fresh.
The main query is the likelihood of a wet track as he did fail badly (twice) on Heavy ground last winter, but providing it's not bottomless (soft track form was fine in New Zealand) then he gets his chance in an open race from a better map this week (should just trail the leaders from gate two).
9. Moana Jewel sparked a first-up surprise with an easy win at Warwick Farm and although this is tougher, Vulpine did frank the form from that event. Her record in this grade isn't flash but the conditions suit and she will get a soft run. Is once again a decent quote.
Neither 6. Charretera (seemingly looking for this trip now and well in after the claim) or 3. Juventus (Scratched) (blinkers and Bowman back on) are easy to catch but they are generally thereabouts at this level and both are top three chances again on Saturday.
Race 7 - 5:00PM IRON JACK EXPRESSWAY STAKES (1200 METRES)
While we get a very good look towards the late summer/early autumn features, it's a very tough contest to sort out with many of these being aimed towards longer trips/bigger targets, so on the look for some value, we'll lean the way of 7. MIZZY at a double figure quote.
Following a hat-trick of Group victories, the daughter of Zoustar strung together a pair of thirds in the Silver and Golden Eagle (2019) before a long spell, with just the one outing in 2020 via the Group Two Sheraco last September. Although she failed, there were excuses (slow post-race recovery) and both trials leading into this return have been faultless.
If there's track downgrades, that suits 2. Star Of The Seas the most despite the poor draw. A first-up winner last autumn on a Soft 7, he had some excellent early spring form last time in (seconds to Verry Elleegant & Kolding). Prepared to forgive the back-end of that preparation as he was poorly placed twice before going to the paddock.
Most eyes will be on the resuming 9. Ole Kirk (Scratched) who clearly has bigger fish to fry later in the campaign (only one trial leading in) while this is the first time against older rivals and have to include 5. Savatiano who should settle in the first two early. Personally, I've always found her a little hard to catch but with good fresh stats and a favourable map, she's a main hope.
Race 8 - 5:40PM SKY RACING ACTIVE HANDICAP Tips (1500 METRES)
Honestly, I'm not in the fan club for the majority of this field, but one that has opened up over the odds is the Chris Waller-trained 4. YONKERS who although eventually got over the staying journeys last spring, has sprinted well in all the first-up runs in Australia which includes a Heavy 9 win last February.
The five-year-old arguably should've won the August 22 return last campaign, where he encountered some traffic in the run home after settling well back in a big field and will naturally be closer this time around with less runners. He's had two January trials, compared to just one hit-out last winter and is a big price in a winnable race.
The best mapped horse is clearly 1. Frosty Rocks who is also better suited with the drop in trip and the prospects of wet ground is a tick. Should comfortably lead and isn't badly in after the 2kg claim, but this is an afterthought following a Magic Millions tilt and is coming off four runs in a five-week space, including an interstate trip. Is there any petrol left?
2. Mount Popa (Scratched) will likely be the best horse from this race come then end of his autumn campaign, but first-up/1500m off a very soft trial? May win on class but will improve off whatever he does and although 10. Brutality was a little plain last week, the blinkers go on and a return to softer footing is a plus.
Race 9 - 6:15PM 50 YEARS ATC MEMBERS RECOGNITION HANDICAP Tips (1200 METRES)
Given 7. MASKED CRUSADER (Scratched) funded the Christmas parties for bookmakers Australia-wide last year after three losses as an odds-on favourite, I thought they may have been a little more generous with the opening price but they've again been spooked by an excellent lead-up trial (only heat to break 34 seconds for the last 600m on January 15).
Touted as a future Group One winner after going unbeaten in two impressive victories to start his career, the son of Toronado faces an okay Benchmark 88 here and Tommy Berry has barrier five at his disposal, which gives him options early. Can't touch him currently but suspect there'll be a better price available closer to the jump.
After being beaten just over three lengths combined in two efforts at Listed and Group level, 1. Southern Lad is massive odds considering the drop in grade here. Has trialled up okay since the New Year's Day run down the Flemington straight and drawn-out isn't an issue on a wet surface if they go too hard up front.
It's a waste of time trying to work out the enigmatic 3. Big Parade. On a good day, he's certainly capable enough and a fresh runner looking to hit the line late will be 8. Thermosphere. With just the one trial (compared to two last campaign when runner-up fresh) this looks more a starting point but her class should be respected as a dual Group winner resuming at benchmark level.
ROSEHILL QUADDIE TIPS: