Racing & Sports expert selections.
RACE 1 - Two key scratchings pave the way for GITALONG (1) to break through on his return from an eight-month break. Only raced once last prep and finished third as $1.80 favourite over 900m at Newcastle. Trialling extra well and looks set for a bright campaign for Team Hawkes. HOKUSAI (7) led but knocked up badly on a heavy track at her latest appearance at Ballarat in May. Has been well supported at both runs so there should be better things in store. Three trials in the past six weeks will have her forward enough. BRISKET (5) should be forgiven her first-up effort when she dropped out on a heavy track at Kembla. Speedy filly who probably leads out of gate one and will give backers a great sight. MATEO (3) is a first starter by Russian Revolution from a Stratum mare. Trialling in fine style for the Snowdens and looks a threat with the blinkers going straight on. Hard to make a case for the other three runners.
RACE 2 - MR SHOWMAN (9) found the frame for the first time last start when cut down late to finish second over 1150m at the Beaumont track. Finds a very shallow provincial maiden today and at the third run of the prep gets his chance to break the ice. LONG MEMORY (5) debuted over 1200m at Newcastle in September and failed to flatter. Three subsequent trials have been solid so expect a better performance this time. WARTHOG (10) settled off the speed and worked home fairly without threatening first-up over this course and distance. That was his first run since coming from Queensland so there is probably improvement in store. FIRE POWER (2) is a new acquisition for the Mitch Beer stable. Last raced when a tiring fourth as favourite over 1200m at Geelong in July. Capable of testing this field. AQUA (7) is also in the mix. GRACE OF TRISH (3) is coming of a very long lay-off and is pre-post favourite. Respect any positive market moves.
RACE 3 - NICCI'S GEM (3) returned from a six-month spell with a game second last start over this distance at Newcastle, leading until the shadow of the post. Should take a lot from that hit-out and on this tighter circuit she is sure to prove tough to catch. DJAPANA (7) was only beaten two lengths over 1200m at Kembla two starts ago in an encouraging performance. Forgive the latest effort on a heavy track - capable of playing a major role with the winkers going on. Locally trained ROYALE VELOUTE (9) is back from a 24-week break. Raced three times in the maiden prep, the last of which was the pick when she worked home well for a midfield finish over 1400m here. Went nicely in a recent trial and is a likely improver this time in work. LAST DITCH EFFORT (2) battled on evenly to fill a placing here recently over 1100m. Looking for this sort of journey at the third run of the campaign. AMBITIOUS CREEK (1) did nothing on debut six weeks ago in town. Worth another chance in a modest affair.
RACE 4 - LADY DEVINE (9) has only raced twice and been beaten around two lengths on each occasion, the latest an eye-catching fourth over 1300m at Goulburn. Will relish getting out to this distance and she shouldn't be a maiden for long. SPEYMALT (11) started favourite on her return from a spell last start but after settling back in a small field over 1200m at Gosford did not make a great impression. Showed ability last prep and the addition of blinkers today might spark sharp improvement. WILD CANARY (7) led and held on well for second over this course and distance two runs back. Failed when tested at 1900m last time but is a big chance to bounce back in this more suitable event. BLACKALL (2) has done nothing in two runs this prep but he has placed 2/3 at Hawkesbury so a better run at big odds would not surprise. OUTLANDER (5) is progressing nicely and can fill a top-three spot.
RACE 5 - Hard to rule any of these out. JACK DUGGAN (4) was having his first run for nine weeks when he worked home evenly to finish fourth last start over 1500m at this track. Fitter for that outing and should settle close to the speed in a race that lacks genuine tempo on paper. Sure to prove hard to beat. DONEGAL LIGHTS (7) progressed nicely last time out when second-up from a spell, finding one better over 1400m at Goulburn after looking a chance at the furlong. Placed 2/2 when third-up and 3/3 at this circuit so he has a pleasing profile. TIP TOP TIMING (8) comes off a four-week freshen-up following a modest performance over the mile at Gosford. Five-time winner at this distance so cannot be taken lightly. AUNT ROBERTA (2) resumes. Will be better for the run but her trial form has been encouraging. CALL ME LOUIS (3) turned in a good effort after racing wide without cover at Rosehill last start. Right in contention.
RACE 6 - COSMOS (11) is a progressive filly who broke her maiden status last start over 1300m at Newcastle, getting home by a neck after stalking the leading division into the lane. Nicely placed over this slightly longer trip and she is good enough to take this next step. SIR ARTIE (3) got a long way back at his most recent run over 1300m at Newcastle and failed to make an impression. Fitter for two runs back from a 70-week lay-off and he might be ready to produce at juicy odds. BEAUTY RISING (2) fresh from a two-month let-up is one to keep safe - she has contested far better races than this in her short career. ROMA AVENUE (1) started warm favourite but didn't run a strong mile at Gosford last time. Big chance back to a more suitable trip. ANDRONICUS (4) resumes. Has impressed at both runs to date. Synthetic hoof filler the niggling concern but undoubtedly talented.
RACE 7 - LALAGUNA (4) led and had to dig deep to just prevail last time out in a 1400m Class 1 at Kembla. Starting to put it together now and there is improvement to come at just the fourth run of the campaign. Ideally drawn so looks sure to prove tough to beat again. SPATS PAV BOWIE (7) scored by a big margin at Queanbeyan two back then didn't get a strong mile at Wyong most recently. Worth another chance back in the right race. CRYSTAL WATERS (8) didn't have the clearest passage in the run home when a close fourth first-up over 1300m at Kembla. Likely improver. SHAKA ROCK (11) is racing well and makes plenty of appeal dropping back to his preferred distance. EDMOND (1) is first-up from a seven-month spell and having his first run under Kim Waugh. Form in WA good enough to test this field.
RACE 8 - OUR LADY STARDUST (8) returns from a 30-week spell and has transferred to the yard of local trainer Garry Frazer. Good fresh performer who has only missed a placing once in five runs at 1100m. Deserves top billing after a couple of big chances came out this morning. CROWN GUINEA (10) raced wide but worked home well to just miss the frame at her most recent appearance over 1000m at Muswellbrook. Lightly raced mare well placed out to 1100m. Blinkers on might be the key to her success. OXFORD VISION (1) resumes. Yet to miss the placings in five runs at this distance and he has a win and a placing from three first-up appearances. Must be respected. ZENTI (4) hasn't been too far away in his two runs this prep, both over 1000m. This is his favourite trip so a big run will not surprise. Locally trained SOLOIST (6) is a gun first-up performer who can run a big race despite the seven-month absence.