Refreshed after a couple of weeks away from the racing circuit, I’m back in the saddle this weekend as the industry returns to the major tracks.
It’s important to take a deep breath after the Flemington carnival and recharge the batteries.
Racing is a 354-day-a-year industry, so it doesn’t hurt to give yourself a spell at times.
While I do enjoy the Sandown and Ballarat meetings, I feel like those are the best to give a miss from a punting perspective.
As we get ready to tick over into summer, I won’t be writing as many previews over the coming months, but I expect to maintain a regular presence in the lead-up to the big races in February, March and April.
Below I’ve taken a look at five races on the programs at Moonee Valley and Rosehill and given my thoughts.
Best of luck if you’re having a flutter.
Track Good 4 at time of writing. Rail in true position.
Race 5 at 3.20pm – $75,000 Benchmark 64 Handicap (1500m)
Former Kiwi galloper Talenti will start favourite here after an impressive first-up win here at the same distance a couple of weeks ago. That wasn’t much weaker than this race, so this runner has to be a serious chance.
However, the Michael Moroney-trained Bill The Bee is the better value. This four-year-old rarely runs a bad race and will be suited by the Moonee Valley track. An on-pace runner, Bill The Bee will go forward from the wide gate and likely lead, or sit outside the leader.
There’s not a lot of speed in the race, so I expect him to be right in the finish. A son of So You Think, who absolutely loved Moonee Valley, the Bee is great each-way value.
Suggested bet: Bill The Bee each-way.
Race 7 at 4.40pm – $125,000 Benchmark 84 Handicap (1600m)
It’s hard to go past favourite Sure Knee, who is a brilliant miler with five wins to her name. She was a soft winner at Flemington during the carnival and this is an easier race. However, she will be giving some horses a start.
I prefer Vanuatu from the Grahame Begg yard. She has a little bit more tactical speed and will be closer in running from barrier two. She was slightly disappointing last start at Sandown, but her run before that in the Group 3 Tesio Stakes at Moonee Valley was superb. A repeat of that run would have her winning.
Suggested bet: Vanuatu to win.
Race 8 at 5.20pm – $135,000 Benchmark 90 Handicap (2040m)
A very even race with several winning hopes. I’m leaning towards Sir Pippin from Chris Waller’s stable. This five-year-old has been knocking on the door for a while and gets a suitable race, jockey and barrier. He’ll also only carry 54kg, which looks ideal.
I thought his last-start run of Newcastle was full of merit and he’ll be suited with the extra step up in distance on Saturday. I expect Michael Walker to position Sir Pippin midfield and make a sustained run from the 600m mark, hitting the line nicely.
Suggested bet: Sir Pippin to win.
Track Soft 5 at time of writing. Rail in true position.
Race 6 at 4.20pm – $140,000 Listed ATC Cup (2000m)
A tricky race so I’ve gone with a horse that is reasonable odds and will make his own luck. The lightly-raced Taikomochi is going to lead or sit behind the leader from barrier one.
Beaten less than four lengths in a $1 million race last week, this six-year-old gelding will be fitter for the run and has a class edge on some of his rivals. He’s won over 2000m before and is proven in Group company, so I expect a really bold showing from this Waterhouse/Bott galloper.
Suggested bet: Taikomochi each-way.
Race 8 at 5.40pm – $140,000 Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m)
It’s hard to go past the favourite Handle The Truth, who absolutely loves Rosehill. From four starts he’s won three times at the track and comes into this race in hot form.
Last month he won the $1.3 million Kosciuszko at Randwick and then backed it up with a second placing in the Goulburn Cup. He’s a genuine 1200m horse, has drawn well and carries just 54.5kg with Nash Rawiller in the saddle.
Basically ticks all of my boxes so the $2.70 available at the moment is pretty good shopping.
Suggested bet: Handle The Truth to win.