Racing & Sports expert selections.
RACE 1 - VELVET HAZE (8) was slowly away then hunted up to lead and hung on tenaciously to score a narrow win last start over this trip at Grafton. Goes to a harder race today but she is flying and gets in beautifully with the claim. Can get the job done again. LITTLE PROPHET (6) is another mare in form. Beat Dark Euro two back then tried hard but couldn't reel in Aheadofhistime last time out over 1450m at Kempsey. Distance specialist who should be highly competitive again. CASIRINA (2) is racing well without winning, including a close third to Aheadofhistime at Kempsey three weeks ago. Sure to be about the mark again. AHEADOFHISTIME (1) defeated some of today's key rivals last time. Inexperienced rider aboard but gate one helps. Must be respected. DARK EURO (4) has been narrowly beaten at his last couple and will be peaking at the fourth run back from a spell.
RACE 2 - MY MATE COBBER (3) led and just failed to hang on over 1500m at Muswellbrook two runs back. Struggled at Newcastle last time but back in a moderate country maiden he is a great chance to finally break through. SONOFDEC (6) was unwanted in betting but caught the eye late on debut last time out over 1200m at Newcastle. Won't find this as hard so over a longer trip with the run under the belt he is a serious contender. NOTABADSMILE (9) comes off a two-month layoff for a new stable. Wasn't beaten far a couple of times at the provincials during the winter. One to keep tabs on with the blinkers applied. SINGLE SHOT (4) might have been a run short when he was beaten under a length at Kempsey recently. Nicely drawn and good enough to test this line-up. RIDE LIKE A GIRL (12) ran a better race at Taree last time out and can play a role with luck from an awkward gate.
RACE 3 - YAREAKH (5) has returned in good order this prep. Made up many lengths to finish fifth when resuming over 1300m then attacked the line strongly again last time but just missed over 1250m at Taree. Nicely in after the claim and needs this trip. The testing material. LUNARTIE (2) made it three top-two finishes from as many starts when beaten under a length over 1200m at Quirindi a fortnight ago. Will be hard to toss getting out to this distance for the first time. TWOSRET (9) has worked home fairly at his two runs this time in work. Up to a more suitable trip and the blinkers go back on so she looks ready to find peak form. CARDSHARP (4) was an impressive maiden winner at Ballina last start and is ready to take this step up in class. KAIHOKO (7) opened his account when resuming at Grafton recently. This is tougher but he is progressive.
RACE 4 - SPIELE (3) won a similar race to this at Ballina on 15 August. Has raced just twice since then in better company and not made an impact. Second-up from an eight-week break today and the blinkers go on for the first time. Looks ready to recapture her best form. SHADES OF FRISCO (7) scored over this trip at Taree two back then looked to have every chance last time out at Kempsey when back in distance but she failed to finish off. Returns to her right trip today and can make amends. CRASH'N'BASH (10) has contested a couple of sprints since returning from a spell and the efforts have been moderate. Placed 2/2 at this stage of the campaign and today's trip is more to her liking. Sure to improve. STAR OF YAMBA (6) continues to race well despite a seemingly endless campaign. Good effort last time in a better race than this at Taree. In the mix. UNCAGED (2) has his share of weight but his last start win at Kempsey was game.
RACE 5 - TALMA I LOVE HER (8) looks ready to peak after three runs back from a spell. Loomed up to win on the corner but found one better last start over 1400m at Taree after drawing very wide. Went close over a similar trip to this at Kempsey two back. Gets a perfect stall today so no excuses. ELECTRIC EVIE (3) took up the leader's mantle last time out and just failed to hold on at the end of 1300m at Ballina. Has only raced three times so expect there is still more to come. MASTER'N'COMMANDER (5) ran a better race at his most recent outing when just edged out over 1250m at Kempsey. Heading the right way and with luck from a tricky gate he is a winning hope. WORKING CAPITAL (1) raced wide without cover at Kempsey last start so forgive the run. Placed two in a row before that over 1000m at Taree. In the mix with even luck. CUISENAIRE (10) has been about the mark all prep so with the light weight from gate one he is a definite contender.
RACE 6 - MAWSONS EXPEDITION (7) led but found one better in an encouraging debut over this distance at Grafton a month ago. Has been brought along quietly and is sure to take a lot from that experience. Looks the goods. THE EXTREME CAT (5) is the obvious threat first-up from a 31-week spell. Transferred to the Nathan Doyle stable over the break. Opened last prep with a second in a Kyneton maiden. Trialled well at Wyong recently and seems ready to run a forward race. SCOTLAND (4) last appeared when an eye-catching second over 1300m here four months ago. Consistent gelding who has been in the money at all four runs at Coffs, his home track. Sure to play a big role. RATHORAN (8) is a Shalaa debutant from the Jake Hull yard. Won his latest trial at Wyong so he appears above average. MISS DARTMOUTH (10) improved sharply last time out at just her second appearance. Keep her very safe.
RACE 7 - MR TABASCO (2) got a mile out of his ground last start and failed to make an impression over 1250m at Taree. Finished just 0.3 lengths from the winner in a comparable race to this three starts back carrying 1kg more - a repeat of that effort puts him right in the finish. BABAYKA (5) worked hard to travel in the leading pair before tiring late and finishing fourth last time out over 1175m at Grafton. Draws a better gate today and is sure to take plenty of catching. LOCKUP THE KITTENS (11) was beaten less than a length when resuming over 1006m at Grafton a fortnight ago. Twice a winner from three second-up runs and loves this trip so he can improve sharply. IMPRINTED (1) has been very good at both runs this prep. Unbeaten at Coffs so leave him out at your peril. LA BOQUERIA (4) was a little disappointing first-up at Kempsey but can improve stepping up in trip.
RACE 8 - SNOW FALCON (9) progressed nicely last start at the second run of the prep, stalking the pace then digging deep to register a narrow victory over this distance at Ballina, defeating some of today's key rivals. Looks well in under today's scale so another win is on the cards at decent odds. PRETTY SHAMROCK (14) is back from a 32-week spell. Met with plenty of support through last prep and delivered once, winning her maiden over this trip at Grafton. Eligible for easier races but at the weights she makes plenty of appeal. ELOHEH (11) continued her fine form this prep with a close second behind Snow Falcon over this journey at Ballina recently. Awkward gate to contend with but she should press forward and run another bold race. INTOXEL (6) didn't lead as expected and finished a couple of lengths behind Snow Falcon at Ballina. Rarely runs a bad race so she is a nice each-way option. PIXIE HALLOW (3) impressed first-up here at this trip and is ready for the step up in grade.