Race 1 - 11:15AM ELITE SAND & SOIL HANDICAP Tips (1200 METRES)
6. MILITARY EXPERT is the way we're leaning, although most of these have a hope. He was heavily supported on debut, with King Of Sparta getting the better of that July 7 clash, but this colt really lifted late and they cleared away from Lucky Sun (runner-up to Sat winner - Verne). If Tommy Berry is able to get across, he's open to enough natural improvement to turn the tables.
2. King Of Sparta got the cash for us in that aforementioned race, a gelding that brought strong form lines from earlier in the year and the lead up trials suggested he'd improved. May be spotting them a start here, but off a good speed, he can win again.
7. Silent Impact is an interesting runner from the Waterhouse & Bott camp and although seemingly bred to be more a Classics type, won stylishly on debut over 1000m, albeit it was at Goulburn. Clearly has ability and interested to see he measures up.
12. Sir Crackle couldn't have been any more impressive at the trials ahead of his July 10 debut where he was wide throughout and didn't handle a heavy track. From barrier one (finds the box seat?) and on firmer ground, he could improve out of sight here.
Race 2 - 11:50AM TAB HIGHWAY CLASS 3 PLATE Tips (1500 METRES)
2. DREAM RUNNER is a talented galloper who saluted in a strong Class 2 last winter (safely held Brutality) and off a long spell, is building in this preparation nicely, finding the line well second-up over the seven furlongs on July 10. Rather confident that he's the best horse in this Highway, but I'm not in love with map from gate 12 despite JMac taking the reins.
11. Zoo Station saluted in a Class 2 Highway first-up before being set a task via the July 12 edition, where she still made very good inroads from the rear. Better gate and a firmer surface this Saturday are both big positives for this mare.
1. Bold And Wild may be able to take up the running under gun front-running hoop Josh Parr and while this gelding has clearly had his issues, the last start third behind Bring The Ransom in a midweek 72 does read extremely well for this.
8. Lord Avatar has been racing consistently on the country circuit and is hard fit, arriving here off a runner-up to Divine Eleven over the Grafton Carnival. a galloper that's at least midweek class. He draws for a nice midfield trail here.
Race 3 - 12:25PM BOWERMANS COMMERCIAL FURNITURE HANDICAP Tips (1500 METRES)
5. BLACK BOLT is a son of Savabeel and as is common with many of his progeny, we saw improvement from the two-year-old to the early three-year-old season with this gelding, who went back-to-back prior to a third behind the subsequent QLD Derby winner. Luckless on return at Hawkesbury, a senior hoop, firmer ground and a step to 1500m are all ticks for this second-up tilt.
7. Alvin The Bold won a weak Provincial Maiden before coming to town for a similar affair to this on July 10 where he was only narrowly defeated. McEvoy likely looks for the front and this three-year-old is much better suited on firmer ground.
6. Yiyi couldn't have been any more impressive when saluting first-up at Newcastle and as a progressive stayer from the Waller yard, this looks well within his reach. Both wins have come on genuinely heavy ground, which is the query.
has had every race shape work against her since returning from a freshen-up, but she continues to find the line without luck. For the roughie/exotic players, she's worth throwing into the numbers at a huge price ($34.00 @ Unibet Australia
Race 4 - 1:00PM HYLAND RACE COLOURS JULY SPRINT Tips (1100 METRES)
5. ALL TIME LEGEND will improve off whatever he does here first-up, however, that was also the case in the summer and he still bolted in fresh, albeit at 78 level. 1100m is a different beast despite a good lead up trial, but it's hard to ignore his record, which could be even better (should've won his last two). Becomes a spring contender with a big run against some handy opposition here.
1. Trumbull sat three-wide the trip when saluting in the Sydney Stakes first-up in the spring, but has disappointed in two subsequent efforts. This otherwise consistent gelding always trials well and that's again been the case ahead of this return.
3. Isaurian is the best short course sprinter in this field if right, but I'm just not sure where he's at. The rising seven-year-old has still been competitive, but there's been clearly issues (three starts in 18 months) and he was a little plain at Flemington on July 3.
6. Chat has a nice turn-of-foot, especially on firmer ground. A versatile galloper that's down in the weights, he's one that can sprint off any tempo, which could well come in handy via this small field.
Race 5 - 1:35PM SCHWEPPES HANDICAP Tips (2400 METRES)
1. HARPO MARX is improving with every start and on the seven-day back-up, has given his rivals a galloping lesson on July 10, smashing the clock in the process (around five and a half lengths faster for the last 600m than the next fastest). He looks too good for off season company, is arguably more effective on firmer ground and only goes up 1kg for staying in a BM78.
8. Commander Bell
won two in a row at the Provincials then wasn't well placed, performing well despite being poorly weighted in an 88 before a Grafton Cup tilt when outclassed. This is more suitable and he's capable of top three/four finish at a price ($27.00 @ Sportsbet
7. Smokin Romans couldn't salute at 70-78 level in Victoria before coming down in the weights and defeating Vegas Knight who is no slouch, but this is his hardest task to date. Respecting a dangerous jockey/trainer combo, albeit he's short enough at sub $4.
12. Poulton Le Sands
stepped from 1800m to 2400m on July 3 and was attempting to make ground in a tough spot. With that in mind, and considering No Compromise and Sound Of Cannons are in this line up, he's over the odds ($41.00 @ TopSport
Race 6 - 2:10PM CITY TATTERSALLS CLUB HANDICAP Tips (1200 METRES)
8. STARLA doesn't win out of turn, although the daughter of Snitzel is always thereabouts. At her fourth run over summer, she's finished second to subsequent Group Two winner Private Eye before being caught three-wide the trip on Feb 6. While this may not be good ground, it's firmer than what she's been on of late and a repeat of either of those efforts sees her go very close here.
1. Maddi Rocks is having her first start for John O'Shea and while she got costly last preparation, her form was certainly good enough for a 78 against her own sex. Considering she doesn't handle heavy ground, her most recent trial was quite good with the blinkers on.
10. Seleque looked just about a good thing on paper second-up after comfortably defeating Van Giz fresh, who won a 78 on July 10. While she had to settle for second, this filly was never comfortable in the run and may just have been a little flat second-up.
9. Turnstyle went off the boil after a big second-up win, but the blinkers went on and she bounced back with an all the way victory at Canterbury despite tiring late. If there's an on-speed bias, she's the one they will come for.
Race 7 - 2:45PM XXXX WINTER CHALLENGE Tips (1500 METRES)
2. COUNTOFMONTECRISTO was an eye-catcher in the June Stakes via his Australian debut and stepping to the 1400m on July 10 when a month between runs, was practically a non-factor on a very heavy surface. With James McDonald sticking and with barrier one at his disposal, I'm happy to ignore that most recent effort as he could well the one ready to peak for the Winter Challenge.
9. Cisco Bay was a strong fresh winner at 78 level and in an 88, Blondeau franked that form with a nice win last Saturday. He just left himself with too much to do second-up, but wasn't disgraced. Is down in the weights and more genuine than most of these.
8. True Detectiive has never been one of mine and although deep into his preparation now, is still racing consistently. On the 53kg minimum and pushing forward under Kerrin McEvoy, he'll give himself every chance.
5. Kirwan's Lane was fair in the Winter Championship Final, and wasn't beaten far in what's proved to be a fair form race with Furrion saluting last week. He beat Ellsberg (runner-up to Ayrton) in his one attempt over the Rosehill 1500m.
Race 8 - 3:25PM MIDWAY HANDICAP Tips (1500 METRES)
10. TOO GOOD TO BE TRU has each-way claims in the most open race on the card. After winning his first two this campaign, he sat three-wide the trip at Newcastle for second, getting that same result two starts later in the Grafton Guineas when simply outclassed by Tamilaide, but I'd back that winner to do a number on this lot. He should get a nice midfield run from barrier eight.
12. Artic Thunder was one we fancied last start back to 1250m off a freshen-up where he was heavily supported and produced a bizarre run, looking well beaten before picking up late. He drops down to 54.5kg here and Tommy Berry taking over is a big tick.
3. Fantastic Ruby hasn't finished outside the top two from six career outings, recording his third win second-up on June 26. There's improvement to come and while he's very honest, this gelding will likely be doing plenty of work from a wide draw.
1. Ashim is better suited up to 1500m now at his third Australian start and the 78 form behind Papal Warrior and Tycoonist two starts back reads very well for this. From gate three, a soft run will help offset the 59.5kg impost.
Race 9 - 4:05PM THE AGENCY REAL ESTATE HANDICAP Tips (1200 METRES)
1. LANCASTER BOMBER rattled off easily the best closing splits in his second-up affair on July 10 and that followed a good return behind Malkovich (subsequent Melbourne winner), beating Our Bellagio Miss in the process (won her next two). Barrier 11 is the main knock, but he has tactical versatility and with a pinch of luck from that gate, he could well peak on Saturday.
2. Smart Image hasn't been able to progress off the early promise that was on display, but he's talented and the Snowden yard have been avoiding the heavy tracks, hence the freshen-up. Aside from a slightly tardy getaway, the July 16 trial was superb.
4. Tycoonist brought up a much-deserved victory on July 3, having his hoof firmly on the till prior to that. There's more depth here and he's drawn out, but is more effective ridden with a sit anyway, so with cover, can launch off a good speed if need be.
9. Tony Be is the one I'd respect any money for, an ex-Kiwi having his first Australian start for Chris Waller. The 1200m appears too short, but JMac sticks from his most recent trial and both July heats have been super impressive to the eye.
Race 10 - 4:45PM QUAYCLEAN HANDICAP Tips (1300 METRES)
2. FROSTY ROCKS won two either side of a spell before attempting a Stradbroke Qualifier, but he didn't handle a firm Eagle Farm deck and then was tried at 1800m, a trip he doesn't get. The striking grey is much better suited bowling along out front as a sprinter/miler, and because of a missed run July 10, had another trial on July 16 where the handbrake was firmly applied late.
6. Ventura Ocean is an Australian Bloodstock import that is two from two Down Under, saluting in two modest Brisbane events over February and March, but his fighting qualities on each occasion were admirable. He's trialled twice ahead of this return.
11. Zakat is a hard one to catch although she's generally thereabouts and the Godolphin mare is adept in most conditions. The July 2 Canterbury trial was faultless and she's another to have missed a start with the two abandoned races on July 10.
12. Madam Legend will be further tested stepping to an 88 second-up, but she drops in the weights and this four-year-old is flying, recording a big fresh win. Kerrin McEvoy will be forced to work early from a horror draw, however.