Capable sprinter Sundance will be looking to perform a smash and grab raid when he contests the Summer Sprint (Race 7) over 1000m at Warwick Farm this Saturday.
A winner of two of his three starts this preparation, the gelding eased to victory over the same trip on the Sunny Coast on Boxing Day with jockey Jeff Lloyd never really forced into top gear.
With Lloyd remaining in Brisbane to chase the riches at the upcoming Gold Coast carnival, trainer Toby Edmonds has booked Michael Dee for the ride with the Kiwi-born jockey also forced to familiarise himself on his first trip to the track.
A natural leader, we were expecting Dee to hustle Sundance out of the gates from his handy draw in three and give the local brigade something to get past.
Favourite Mr Manhattan enters this race off the back of a fairly anonymous run behind stablemate Kuro in the Starlight Stakes at Listed level.
Trained on the track by Joe Pride, the chestnut is unbeaten in two tries over this journey on his home surface.
In his most recent ride back in October, he took advantage of a small field to power past Fine Mist at his first run back from a seven-month layoff.
In at Unibet headquarters, where we're hoping for a better start to 2017 after the punters had far the better of us over the Christmas period, our Sydney traders felt he had come up under the odds here and we’ll be looking to take him on come Saturday.
We’re also interested in the performance of Dal Cielo (pictured above), a Group 1 winner back in New Zealand who will be making just his second start for the Kris Lees camp.
Having jumped awkwardly and cost himself a couple of lengths, the horse really hit the line hard behind Our Renaissance in the Skellatar at Muswellbrook and obviously has plenty of ability.
However, we’re probably expecting him to be more suited over a little more ground and expect that a couple of these might be a bit too nippy for him over this trip.
Winter Stakes winner Oxford Poet makes his first run since September and has been asked to carry the top weight of 61kgs under handicap conditions.
While he generally races well fresh and has had the benefit of a couple of useful trials, we think that Blake Shinn will have plenty of work to do from the extreme outside alley and felt that other horses represented better value in the market.
Cosmic Cameo can really mix his form but, like the favourite, has also won on his last two goes over this journey at ‘The Farm’.
With Deanne Panya able to claim he will carry just 50kgs and should be able to race on the speed from the favourable draw.
2. Cosmic Cameo
3. Mr Manhattan
4. Dal Cielo
Indeed, Edmonds may be set for a fruitful afternoon with impressive juvenile Houtzen looking to guarantee herself a start in next week’s Magic Millions event with success in the First National Real Estate Handicap (Race 2) over 1100m on the Gold Coast.
A four length winner over Garrard on debut, Houtzen lies right on the cusp of the order of entry for the Millions and with a number of other gallopers trying to force their way in, her trainer wasn’t prepared to take the chance she would miss out.
She’s come up at prohibitive odds for this race but with the track currently rated a Heavy 8 and further rain predicted up north, there must be a little bit of doubt surrounding how she will adapt to the conditions.
David van Dyke’s Umawinner was slated to make her first start in the McLachlan Stakes last weekend but had to be scratched after playing up at the gates.
She looks a filly with some measure of ability based on her Sunshine Coast trial and it’s interesting to note we struck some smart wagers on her for the Millions midweek from a couple of savvy clients.
Down south, Saturday’s Caulfield card features two heats of the Swettenham Stud Summer Championships (Race 7) with imported galloper Plein Ciel (pictured above) aiming to continue on his merry way.
Connections of the German bred bay, who name translates as ‘Full Sky’ in French, must be on cloud nine at present given the manner in which he has toyed with his rivals at each of his three Australian starts to date and he has come up a firm favourite for this 1800m event.
With jockey Ben Allen able to claim 2kgs he looks well placed and we’re expecting the punters to come out in full force in support of him come race day.
His main opposition is expected to come from Cindy Alderson’s Rewarding Effort, who steps out beyond a mile for the first time having won with something to spare on Christmas Eve.
In greyhound action, with temperatures expected to soar close to 40C in Melbourne over the weekend, stewards have moved the Silver Chief Final (Race 8) back a day and it will now be contested as part of a Sunday twilight meeting at The Meadows.
The final over 525m should be a ripper with recent Brisbane Cup winner Thirty Talks looking to make it seven wins on the bounce after an enthralling victory in last weekend’s semi-final round.
Coming from third on the home corner, the Tony Brett-trained superstar dived between runners to score in 30.07 and his chances were boosted after drawing the coveted rails for the final.
However, the shock defeat of Ando’s Mac in Tuesday’s Gosford Gold Cup suggests a ‘put in, take out’ mentality may be fraught with danger and we are expecting second pick Lightning Frank to serve it up to the favourite.
Mathew Wright’s charge won unchallenged in a slick 29.66 last week and despite an awkward draw in five it’s worth noting that he won his Christmas Eve heat from that trap and also landed the prize on debut the only other time he has been placed there.
Neither of the other two semi winners, Matt Machine and Reefton Treasure, were able to ping the lids in the semis and having lobbed in boxes four and seven respectively, we're fearful they may strike trouble on the first corner and are keen to take them on.
He’s Loaded gave a good sight in his semi and, at the prices, looks far better value to repeat Midwinter’s shock win in this race 12 months ago.
Best bet: Magicaz (Sydney, Race 3, No.3)
Value: Themis (Brisbane, Race 8, No.16)
Lay: Brockhoff (Adelaide, Race 7, No.2)
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