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Race-by-race preview for Randwick on Saturday

Selections based on a soft to heavy track.

Race 1 – 12:30PM FORUM GROUP KIRKHAM PLATE (1000 METRES)

1. Covert Ops impressed on debut in the Breeders’ Plate despite being nailed on the line by Dubious. Covert Ops ran along at a good clip early, which included a slick 9.97s between the 800 and 600m (Punters Intel). He did well to sustain that speed to the end, running a last 600m of 33.38s. That was the fourth quickest in the race despite speeding along in front. Covert Ops kicked at the 400m running a 10.80s but the felt the pinch slightly the last 200m running 11.59s, a length slower than Dubious. The overall time in this race was 3.5L quicker than Gimcrack won by Catch Me. Think the Breeder’s will be a pretty deep race. The rest of the field here are unraced, so largely unknown quantities but they’d want to be pretty smart to be beating him.

Danger: 6. Time To Reign

Beautifully placed: High Bridge is 
 favourite in the City Tatts Cup.

Beautifully placed: High Bridge is
favourite in the City Tatts Cup. Credit:AAP

is the half-brother to She Will Reign and he looked sharp in his one barrier trial, winning it well at Warwick Farm. He did everything right, beginning quickly, settling before finding something late. Whatever he does he’ll be compared to She Will Reign, but he is with Gary Portelli and Darby Racing so he’ll get the same chance to progress. In that same Warwick Farm trial was the fourth-placed 3. Bivouac. Ignore the margin. Loved how he worked through the line late when Tye Angland clicked him up. Always, always, pay respect to the Snowden two-year-olds so must mention 4. Recruiting To Win and 5. Sedona.

How to play it: Covert Ops WIN

Race 2 – 1:05PM DAILY PRESS HANDICAP (1600 METRES)

5. Ulusaba comes off a Wyong maiden win and lines up favourite here in town but he did bolt in and this isn’t a deep race. That last start was the first time he had been stretched out to the mile, which he clearly relished. And the track? It was a soft 7, so he ticked that box there too. The other thing in his favour is you know exactly where he’ll be in the run, bowling along out in front with Adam Hyeronimus looking to give his rivals the slip turning for home. First up at Hawkesbury the gelding was beaten over 1300m but there was a gap back to third. There’s every chance he’ll only have to beat three rivals, with Chris Waller suggesting that 3. Orcein will likely dodge the wet track.

Danger: 1. Quackerjack is the only runner in the field that isn’t a last-start winner but there is an argument to be made that his fourth in Listed company behind Mickey Blue Eyes and Gem Song supersedes them all. He led on that occasion, into a headwind, and although never really looked the winner, boxed away honestly. Back to this company he could give the race a shake. 2. California Concord has strung two together at the provincials but neither win was particularly convincing. Then there is the lone filly 4. Lucky Helmet for John O’Shea. She has also won two on the bounce, including a last start Wyong win on soft ground.

How to play it: Ulusaba WIN

Race 3 – 1:40PM TAB HIGHWAY HANDICAP (1100 METRES)

I have little doubt that the still untapped 7. Burning Crown is the best horse in the race, however, you’re going to have to take near even money to find out if he handles a wet track. I’m with him but suspect we’ll get better odds closer to jump. The three-year-old bolted in at Gunnedah on debut, running slick figures, which saw him sent around at Scone deep into the red. After half missing the kick and overracing from his midfield spot, the Helmet gelding still put his rivals to the sword over the final stages. Sue Grills, of course, trained Border Rebel and there is a quiet confidence around that this is the heir apparent for the Tamworth-based trainer. Greg Ryan is in town to ride him too.

Danger: 15. Handle The Truth hasn’t been sighted since winning a Highway Handicap back in early September. That was on a heavy track so the conditions won’t worry him here. Tipping the gap between runs was by design given how well the three-year-old goes fresh. Throw 8. Fly Forward into your multiples at monster odds. Has raced without luck all preparation and will appreciate 53.5kg having lumped 61kg+ at his last two efforts. Handles wet too. 14. Doctor On Ice is the Matt Dunn runner I want to keep very safe. When the stable send one down first up, it means they are ready to go.

How to play it: Burning Crown WIN

Race 4 – 2:15PM CITY TATTERSALLS CLUB CUP (2400 METRES)

Chris Waller’s import 4. High Bridge looks mighty hard to beat in this staying feature on the strength of his fourth in the G1 Metrop last start. He was crunched that day too, to start $5. He is easy to find here at the even money but he should too good for these. His two wins prior to his Metrop effort were in midweek company but they were outstanding. The eight-year-old was previously trained as a hurdler so the turn of foot he displayed caught a few punters off guard. We know what he is about now and he looks beautifully placed to get back into the winners’ circle before popping down to Melbourne to play a part over the spring carnival. There looks good speed in this engaged too, which only enhances his already strong claims.

Danger: 3. Invictus Prince hasn’t been able to recapture the magic that saw him run a bottler behind Winx first up but he hasn’t been too bad all things considered. He looked desperate for 2000m and finally got that last start but missed the kick before having his momentum halted in the straight. On a heavy track, the impact of that is accentuated further. He obviously bounced off that run well as Matt Smith is backing him up seven days later. Doubt the trip will be a problem off his overseas form. 2. Big Blue is also on the quick turnaround from last week, having won the St Leger, but back in trip on a drier track look negatives. He’ll also have 7. Cosmologist and 8. Social Element for company.

How to play it: High Bridge WIN

Race 5 – 2:50PM KOGAROO HANDICAP (1600 METRES) 

2. Abdon is bursting to win another race. It was the stable’s intention to be more forward last start but the six-year-old was slowly away and settled out the back. Like the way he found the line though, running second to Zourkhan, clearly relishing being able to get his toe into the ground. Fourth up now he has no excuses fitness-wise and with another wet track all but assured, he’ll be somewhere in the money again. Tommy Berry sticks with him and will have to have his wits about him from the wide draw but it’ll give him the chance to take off when he needs to. It’s been a long, long time between drinks for Abdon (805 days) but he won’t get a better chance to break through. Someone will just have to show him where the winner's  stall is.

Danger: 10. Merovee was an emphatic winner at Rosehill last start at the midweeks and it might be the win that finally kick-starts the career of this blue blood four-year-old. He has 53kg, strikes another wet track and tackles the mile. No excuses for him either. 5. All Too Soon had her chance in the G3 Angst Stakes last start but finishing 2.1L away from I Am Serious reads well for a race like this. The wet track helps her claims as suspect she might want 2000m again now. 6. Live And Free is hard in the market but didn’t fire a shot first up. He looked very promising as a staying three-year-old and is certainly capable of better but it’s hard to come into him off his fresh run.

How to play it: Abdon EACH WAY

Race 6 – 3:30PM SOUTHERN CROSS GROUP BRIAN CROWLEY STAKES (1200 METRES)

7. Roosevelt’s wet track win at Warwick Farm last start was as impressive as you’ll see and for that reason alone I’m siding with the Godolphin colt. As far as he is concerned, let it rain. The wetter the better. That’s not to discredit the three-year-old’s ability on top of the ground though, as first up he ran fifth at Caulfield beaten only 2.1L by Written By, who has since won again and will line up in the G1 Coolmore next time out as one of the race favourites. Back to that Warwick Farm win on a heavy 10, Punters Intel reveals Roosevelt ran his last two splits in 11.65s and 11.97s. That’s humming on a track that wet! James McDonald did course a wide path finding fresh ground, but even still, it was one hell of a win.

Danger: 6. Diplomatico was outstanding winning first up on the Kensington track. It was the win of a group horse. He raced keenly in the early stages, which forced Brenton Avdulla’s hand into sliding forward but was never losing given how sweetly he travelled into the straight before exploding clear late. The query is the wet track. He has only had two starts but both have been on good tracks. Having a rifle through his siblings, they haven’t been particularly fond of wet tracks either. There is no denying his talent though. 8. The Tenor looks the best at odds. He comes off a Gosford Class 2 win but he had panels on them and ran third to Plague Stone in the Rosebud Prelude back in July and cost himself finishing closer by ducking in late.

How to play it: Roosevelt WIN

Race 7 – 4:10PM ICD PROPERTY NIVISON (1200 METRES)

There is plenty to like about Godolphin’s filly 9. Resin in the Nivison. The four-year-old mare was very good first up at Rosehill chasing home her stablemate Soothing as well as Maximus, who has since franked the form by winning himself. Resin, who displays the same guts and determination as her mum Beaded, then dropped back to the midweeks and towelled up her rivals. She was far too good there despite racing against the boys and lumping 59kg. She drops down to 54kg and we know she loves wet tracks. I’d expect Rachel King to be positive from the gates to put her right there and with a fitness edge over a few of her key rivals, should be in the money. Would be surprised if she doesn’t finish top three.

Danger: 2. Pecans has been a revelation for Joe Pride. She beat Ghisoni first up last preparation taking out the G3 Godolphin Crown at Hawkesbury. Don’t read too much into her trials, that’s just her. The mare goes on all surfaces too. Barrier 1 might be a touch sticky for her. Josh Parr will probably have to punch up in an attempt to lead. 3. Eckstien got her winning groove back last start in Melbourne but this is harder. 5. Epidemic pulled up lame from her Melbourne run but has trialled nicely since and is unbeaten on wet tracks. Would elevate 10. Dyslexic to top pick if it were dry. She’s a very good mare and trialled brilliantly behind subsequent Reginald Allen winner I Like It Easy.

How to play it: Resin EACH WAY

Race 8 – 4:55PM CLUBSNSW HANDICAP (1200 METRES)

Like how this race sets up for 2. Firsthand. There is plenty of speed engaged with 10. Noble Joey carving across from the wide draw while 3. Crafty Cop and 9. Isorich will be right there too. Firsthand will be cuddled up on the inside and with the breaks in the straight, can slip home over the top of his rivals. His first up run was excellent over an unsuitable 1000m trip behind Tactical Advantage and the wet track plays into the six-year-old’s hands too, boasting as perfect record on soft decks (2 from 2). The Hawkes-trained galloper has also done some of his best work at Randwick in the past.

Danger: All three of Crafty Cop’s career wins have been when he has led. He has drawn to lead Isorich and Noble Joey if they want to push the button. He took a sit first up but was keen in the middle stages. The wet track will be fine. Let him run RT! 6. Maximus was the winner of that race but Crafty Cop meets him 2.5kg better off. That said, the Snowden camp clearly have the horse flying. 5. New Universe is a tease but a win wouldn’t surprise here. The wet is a tick, fresh is a tick and he did start $4 equal favourite with Flow just two starts back (where he ran third beaten 0.4L).

How to play it: Firsthand WIN

Race 9 – 5:35PM JEM COMPUTER SYSTEMS HANDICAP (1400 METRES)

5. Right Or Wrong is presented with an ideal set up in the last at Randwick getting out to 1400m for the first time this campaign and will relish the cut out of the track. His record on soft tracks reads 4: 3-1-0. Since being transferred to Maher and Eustace this seven-year-old hasn’t run a bad race. His two runs in Sydney have been excellent with a second to Trekking the first of them. Last start he ended up out the back from barrier one before diving through late to nab second, beaten by Maximus. He is a horse that has shown in the past he certainly can take up a spot so imagine Jason Collett will be instructed to have him travelling comfortably midfield. From there he’ll be close enough if good enough. Surprised he isn’t favourite.

Danger: 15. Mahalangur resumed a winner at Warwick Farm and although the depth from that BM70 win is questionable, not dissimilar to Merovee earlier in the day, it might be the win he needed to kick-start his career again after losing his way last preparation. 4. Don’t Give A Damn was bogged down in The Kosciuszko. He’ll improve on a drier track. 2. Karavali is probably only winning chance if the track is a genuine heavy but expect her to sprint well fresh. 10. Conarchie will be in front doing what he does best while 13. Beau Geste’s first up ninth was better than it reads.

How to play it: Right Or Wrong WIN

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