This Wednesday we head to Sandown Hillside yet again for another twilight meeting.
We’ve got an eight-race card in store, with the highest-rated race of the card being a Benchmark 78, in the last race. The rail is out twelve metres for the entire circuit, so watch for the backmarkers today, especially if there is a solid tempo throughout a race.
The bureau predicts a lovely Melbourne day, with a top of 28 degrees and sunny. Finish work early and head down to the track to have a punt.
The first on the program is a benchmark 64 handicap for the three-year-old fillies, over 1600 metres. It’s a pretty open race here, with a lot of different form lines coming into it, but the Maher trained LiveInTheFastLane looks the one to beat here.
She won well at Werribee two starts back to break her maiden against Spacex, were she showed a really nice turn of foot, and then backed up at Werribee last start over this trip where she was unlucky not to win. She was held up for nearly 250 metres and only went down by just under a length, so it’s plausible to say she would have won that race with any luck.
She should get a beautiful run in the race from barrier one, and with even luck she’ll be hard to hold out. Miss Daiquiri is next best. The Cumani trained Filly won impressively on debut at Werribee, by a margin of four lengths after leading all the way over 1100 metres. She came to the lakeside track last start, in a very similar grade to this, and had no luck whatsoever.
She got caught four deep without any cover, and for a filly in only her second start, she did well to only finish six lengths off them. She can get a better run today and give them something to chase. Threeood is the only other danger.
The Price yard clearly thinks something of this filly, after running it in good races as a two-year-old, and she should be ready to peak third up after a promising run at Pakenham. Not out of it.
Recommended bet: Can’t see much value on offer here, probably a race I’d be staying out of.
We’ve got a maiden for the three-year-olds in the second, over 1300 metres. Not sure what they’ll do from the barrier, but Duke Of Magnus looks very hard to beat here. He ran in a very good maiden behind Saccharo and Mawaard last preparation before being spelt, and then resumed with a good second behind Fast Stepping, who has won since, at Geelong.
He then went to the Valley and ran three wide the trip, and still only missed out by a quarter of a length. Those form lines are excellent for a race like this, and whether they go to the front or to the rear, he’ll be very hard to beat in this. Ritch Itch looks like the one I’ll be saving on in this.
He beat Halvorsen home on debut where he finished second at Cranbourne, and then was beaten by a length against Kaplumpich at the Valley. He over-raced at the Valley resuming and then travelled three wide on a heavy eight at Yarra Valley last start. I’m willing to forgive those two runs, and he should be ready to peak third up.
If he can find his best he’s the obvious danger.
Prepared to risk Sadente in this. She does have good form lines from last preparation, running behind the likes of Sikorsky, but she looks like a down and out stayer. If there’s a sprint to the line, I doubt she can go with them.
Recommended bet: going pretty big in this race with a win bet on #4 Duke of Magnus, with a saver on #7 Rich Itch.
Another maiden here in the third, over 1300 metres at set weights. This is possibly the worst field I’ve seen at Sandown for a mid-week city race, but there’s still a winner to be found. Judge O’Reilly probably represents the best value at the $5 quote.
He ran six lengths behind Age of Chivalry three starts back, and then backed that up with finishing five lengths off Pieropan and Ronan’s Rock the start after that. He finished half a length off them at Bendigo coming from last, and even though there looks to be no pace on up front, the swoopers should like the conditions today. Big chance.
Stockata is the obvious danger, but there’s not a chance that I could take him in the red. He’s bred well and he probably should have won at Pakenham on debut behind Makfi Amour, but in only his second race start, he hasn’t proven anything to me to justify the short quote.
Noir Jack is the blowout chance in a race that is set up for one.
He’s bred well and he’s trialled pretty well going into this race. Should get the gun run from barrier four and if he can adjust to the races he’ll be right in it.
Recommended bet: Again, a no bet race for mine. No value whatsoever.
A much better race here in the fourth, a Benchmark 70 for the fillies and Mares over 1400 metres. Pretty open race here and I expect there will be a pretty strong pace set up front with a few of the fancied runners having to cross from wide barriers, which sets it up for Ambitious Gem at brilliant each way odds.
She’s been relatively unlucky this preparation, since the run at Caulfield where she ran five deep to finish five lengths off Twitchy Frank. She won a Benchmark 64 race at this track over 1500 metres, and then was incredibly unlucky at the Lakeside track where she never got clean air.
She failed last start but she missed the kick in that race, and I’m willing to forgive her on that run. If Punch can switch her off during the run, she’ll produce an almighty sprint down the outside with the rail out twelve metres. Looks like great value. Dancing Tycoon is one of the main dangers.
She ticks a lot of boxes here. She was caught wide resuming and still finished second, and then she over raced over 1200 metres at the Valley last start.
She should be peaking third up, and she loves this distance, with a win and a third from two tries. With any luck getting across, she is one of the horses to beat. I’m pretty reluctant to jump off HereComesMyBaby off a poor run after being caught wide in a better race than this at Flemington last start.
She’ll get a better run today, and if she is at her best, she probably wins this race. She is hard to catch.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on #5 Ambitious Gem.
A Benchmark 64 handicap over 1300 metres is the next on the program, with a big field of thirteen being entered. No Drama Darci is the deserving favourite, and the three year old looks very hard to beat in this. His form lines have been terrific since his debut for a race like this.
He finished a length behind Notation in his second start before being spelled, and resumed with an amazing win at Pakenham over Gennikay to break his maiden. He just missed against Age of Chivalry last start at the Lakeside track, who went on to finish second in the CS Hayes Stakes a fortnight ago.
From barrier seven, Ben Melham should be able to dictate where he sits in the run and with even luck, he’ll be near impossible to beat. I’ve got Millie The Missile as the second pick. Her last two runs have been encouraging for a race like this.
She was unlucky at Caulfield when she got checked, and she battled on well at Geelong to finish under two lengths off them after having to sustain a long run.
Will be coming home strongly. Permissive Star was really good in his debut win at Benalla, but there’s not a chance I could take him at the current quote at $2.80. He’s bred really well, and he should have the speed to cross from the wide barrier and make his own luck, but I’d prefer to see at this grade first.
Recommended bet: Pretty big win bet on #7 No Drama Darci.
We’ve got another Benchmark 64 handicap, this time over the Caulfield Cup distance of 2400 metres. Definitely the most open race on the card, but I’m giving Nothin’ Leica High one more chance today.
He travelled three wide three starts ago and still managed to finish four lengths away from the inform Prince Ziggy, and then backed that up where he got a shocker of a ride from Martin Seidl. He would have undoubtedly been in the finish that day, and ran under four lengths away again after not seeing clear air the whole way down the straight.
He didn’t have any excuses last start, where he finished 0.2 of a length away from Vellaspride. The good news is there’s no Vellaspride in this race, and he draws well to storm all over the top of them.
Chouxting The Mob looks like the main threat. He worked home well two starts ago at Kyneton over 1850 metres to finish just under three lengths away, and then he went to Kyneton again, but this time he won by nearly three lengths over 1875 metres.
He’s proven he can run this distance, winning at his only try, and from barrier three he draws to do no work. With even luck he’ll be right in it at double figure odds. Bijou Belle winning wouldn’t surprise. She tried to lead all the way at this track last start, where she was beaten a length and a half by Vellaspride and Nothin’ Leica High.
From barrier two she maps to get the gun run on the speed, and she’ll make her own luck. Definitely not out of it.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #4 Nothin’ Leica High, with a saver on #6 Chouxting The Mob.
One of the better races on the program comes here in the seventh, a Benchmark 70 handicap over 1500 metres. Really open race and I think Gold Mag is the one to beat, however, I don’t think I could take the current quote of $2.90 from the wide gate.
His form lines are very impressive, finishing under a length behind Tin Hat, who went on to win the Manfred Stakes and then finishing a length and a half off the very talented duo of Bravo Tango and DeclarationOfHeart. There are a few queries though, such as the wide barrier and where Craig Williams will try and place him, and the fact he’s never been over 1300 metres.
He’s the best horse in the race, but there shapes to be a boilover. I’m going to spec Dinner Lake at the big odds. He does rise in grade here from the last start, but he’s had excuses each time he’s been at this level, so I’m willing to forgive them two runs.
He ran really well last start and if the race was that little bit further he probably nabs River Jewel on the line. He ticks a lot of boxes here, he gets better as his preparation progresses, and he seems to like this track.
He’ll get back and need the luck from barrier one, but I’m willing to have something on him. Diplomac Jack is the best of the rest. He’s been in tremendous form this preparation, winning two from three, including a brilliant win over the mile at this grade last start. He is drawn wide but he was going to go back anyways off a hot tempo.
If Declan Bates can get him a nice spot in the run, he’ll have plenty to give down the straight when it matters.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on #11 Dinner Lake.
The highest rated race of the day comes here in the last, a Benchmark 78 handicap over 1800 metres. Let’s just hope we don’t have to “get out” in the last. Very bullish about Mount Kilcoy’s chances in this race, out of the Patrick Payne Yard.
His form last preparation, finishing half a length behind Mr Money Bags and then beating Masculino, looks really good for a race like this.
He hasn’t found his best form this preparation, but he’s had excuses travelling wide in both of his runs this preparation, especially at Pakenham where he only missed by half a length. He gets better as his preparation goes along, and he should be ready to get back to his best third up. Barring bad luck, he looks hard to beat.
Humbolt Current is next best. The England import was running well back home, over 2000 metres in rating eighty races. His first Australian run was full of merit at Moonee Valley when he closed off nicely over the mile behind Paremuus Boy and Intueri. He’s probably looking for further now, but if Michael Walker can give him a good ride, he’ll be charging home late.
Zebrinz is the best roughie in this race. He narrowly missed in the Camperdown Cup against Here to There, and then missed by a length to Strategic Demand in The Great Western Cup. He closed off nicely over 2000 metres last start in the Colac Cup, and if they go hard in front he’ll be another one who is coming home strongly.
Could be a quaddie killer.
Recommended bet: Pretty big win bet on #10 Mount Kilcoy.
Best bet: Race 5 #7 No Drama Darci.
Second-best bet: Race 8 #10 Mount Kilcoy.
Best value: Race 4 #5 Ambitious Gem.