Group racing returns as some babies and big guns hit Rosehill to mark their territory in the lead-up to autumn carnival.
The highlight is obviously Anamoe. He was stiff (my wallet agrees) to not win a Cox Plate and returns over a sprint trip in the feature Group 2 Expressway Stakes.
The two-year-olds starting to check their Slipper credentials are the other major interest across the card.
Race 1 – 11 Shen Gui
Current odds: $10
The day kicks off with a standard big field in the Highway. Banju has been the most dominant of recent Highway winners. In the first of his consecutive wins, Shen Gui was only a length off (four lengths better than second next time). That is solid for this. Lord Desanimaux and King’s Trust are Highway mainstays who look the dangers.
Race 2 – 8 Zambezi River
Current odds: $4.20
Some big money comes to the races here as the two-year-old boys go at it. Great Barrier Reef is the big man on campus. He cost a bomb and makes his debut after a big trial win. They want in in the Slipper. I’m going with Zambezi River. That horse is another million-dollar baby who has the benefit of race-day experience. He settles closer with Tim Clark aboard and gets it done.
Race 3 – 1 Ebhaar
Current odds: $2.70
Ebhaar was strong when challenged at her only start. I like that Team Snowden put her away after that, obviously with bigger targets in mind. There’s a bit of Coolangatta form around some of the others. I’d have Drisana as the pick of that bunch.
Race 4 – 3 Metro Legend
Current odds: $8
There doesn’t look to be much speed on in this. Metro Legend can use the nice draw to be handy and give himself every advantage. It’s a similar deal with Kanazawa, who has run on well in its two recent fourths. I am happy to take on And We Danced again at under $3. She was okay last start but needs to produce.
Race 5 – 10 Nicktock
Current odds: $16
Thought Nicktock is a good bet in the Midway, he’s been all around it without winning this preparation. His close second in the same class at the start of December is spot on for this. Military Expert has drawn the car park but is first up off high-end three-year-old form. It is the same story for Achiro. They could blow it up if wound up.
Race 6 – 7 Casino Kid
Current odds: $3.60
Casino Kid bolted in last start against the pattern last time. Two thousand metres looks perfect and if he unleashes again late, he should get over the top of them. Just Business at $17 is a show although he will get back too. He has My Demetra’s measure but she will get the favours from in front.
Race 7 – 6 Anamoe
Current odds: $1.80
As much as I love Anamoe, I’m not overly keen to jump in at odds-on considering he has bigger fish to fry around carnival time. At the same time, his opponents aren’t our top-liners, so if James McDonald puts him in a good spot, he should still be too good for them. Forbidden Love is maybe the threat after a good trial, but will need the favours.
Race 8 – 4 Yiyi
Current odds: $2.60
This is a good little race. Yiyi looks cherry ripe after a big finish first up. The 1500 metres is perfect, Barrier 1 and ‘J-Mac’ as well. He looks a bet even at the shorts. I am wary of Canasta, particularly if there’s on-speed favours. He’s been very honest recently and is knocking on the door. Maybe Kingsheir is next best. O’mudgee is the blow out.
Race 9 – 9 Tamerlane
Current odds: $6
I am risking a very good favourite and going around Rule of Law. Tamerlane comes back to 1200 metres for this and he’s in well, carrying just 53.5 kilos. Rule of Law should push forward (McDonald again!). Our boy gets a nice trail behind and the weight gets him through.
Race 10 – 1 Al Mah Haha
Current odds: $13
The key to Al Mah Haha is the good track. He won a high-standard Goulburn Cup on dry, has since failed on soft and heavy but gets it his way again this time. At 78 level, he’s overs. The McDonald quaddie finishes with Above and Beyond, who is another improver on the surface, while Crosscheck is a big watch for the flying Gary Moore yard.
Good luck and good punting.