There are two meetings to watch on Friday night, with my focus at Melton and Albion Park. These are my best bets for their respective programs.
Best bet – Race 3, No. 2: Our Bella Lucia
She’s flying, this girl, and I’m confident she’ll win again. She got the lead last Wednesday at Bendigo from gate five and just kept running in an awesome display, clocking a slick 1.57-mile rate in the process. She’s drawn a good gate here, so I think she can lead and prove quite hard to run down.
Next-best bet – Race 9, No. 3: Argh Me Hearty
She’ll love getting back to this level after contesting the Super Series, where she was far from disgraced in the heat before down-the-track efforts in the semi-final and final. Her Melton record is of some concern, but she has good change-up speed and finds a winnable race.
Value bet – Race 1, No. 3: Fire Official
She has one of the worst strike rates I have ever seen, at 1/131, but she is a mare who races best when on speed, and she has the set-up here to do that. She should comfortably cross the pole horse, and from there she’ll either lead or get the box seat. Given her strike rate, it’s more a 1×3 bet, but at good odds she’s worth a speck.
Best bet – Race 3, No. 1: Stick Man
He’s short but should be winning. He’s a former Kiwi that had a good stint with Belinda McCarthy but is now with Ricky Thurlow. He resumes without a public trial but brings from both New Zealand and New South Wales some strong form lines. All things being equal, he’ll take this race out.
Next-best bet – Race 8, No. 2: Melton Beach
He has been a bit costly for punters in his short career to date but finds a lovely race here. Forgive and forget his last start – he just did way too much work to get on speed and tired late, beaten 30-plus metres. He draws to get the front here, and I think this is D-day for him.
Value bet – Race 2, No. 8: Dollarbill
I reckon he’s worth a throw at the stumps at a big price. He hasn’t been too bad in recent times, but he has been plagued by awkward draws. That should all change here given he’s drawn inside the second row and will follow out a fast beginner. At worst he’ll be three back, but more than likely he’ll get the leaders back, and from there he’ll be dangerous.