Punters will be looking to kick off to a flying start for the New Year at Flemington today with an action-packed eight race card.
The traditional Standish Handicap (1200m) and Bagot Handicap (2800m) are the main two features on the program.
Some of the fields are big with many chances but the track should play fair with the false rail at six metres and the track anticipated to be a Good 4. The weather is perfect for a good day of racing.
Premier trainer Darren Weir and leading Melbourne premiership jockey Damian Lane team up and should again be respected as they proved a formidable combination over the spring.
QUADDIES (races 5,6,7,8)
Skinny Play: 4,7 – 4,9 – 3,7,8 – 6,13
Wide Play: 1,4,7,9 – 2,4,9,11 – 3,6,7,8 – 6,8,13,16
BEST BET: R7 – 6. ETAH JAMES
Next Best Bet: R8 – 13. SO FAR SOKOOL
Best Roughie: R8 – 3. JESTER HALO
No4 GRACEFUL STAR looks an open affair here with many chances but this filly has the benefit of a race start finishing a sound fourth over 1000m against her own sex at Moonee Valley on December 8. She had to change course in the straight when held up and finished on strongly enough to warrant.
No2 CROSSING THE ABBEY made her debut at this track when finishing fourth in the Maribrynong Trial (1000m) here October 7. She was backed from $31 into $21 that time and then spelled. The effort of running down the straight is an advantage and with top jockey Craig Williams to ride rates well.
No1 CARNINA has changed stables from Mark Newman to Busuttin and Young since finishing midfield when running fifth over 1100m at Rosehill on December 9. The daughter of All Too Hard had been riding high with two wins at her prior trials and would respect here.
No5 KHULAASA will wear a lugging bit at her debut. She hails from the reigning premier two-year-old stable and though she has not been seen in public at a trial would keep her very safe. She has drawn ideally on the rail at her debut and gets the talented Damien Oliver to ride.
VALUE RUNNER: No5 KHULAASA
No2 WISE HERO looks close to breaking through with two strong seconds to his credit at his two starts this campaign. Latest he was backed into a $3.20 favourite when finishing runner-up to Murphy’s Reward over 1000m at Moonee Valley on December 23. Beaten a lip and gets Stephanie Thornton’s 3kg claim to drop his weight to 56.5kg.
No7 CREATIVITY has won three times and been placed twice at past five starts. Latest was heavily backed into a hot $2.60- favourite when striding away to a half-length win against her own sex at Caulfield on December 16. She goes up 2kg to 56kg but ace jockey Damian Lane keeps the reins.
No8 EMBECEE LIL has carved a nice record at Morphettville and now comes here with a last-start fourth over 1250m at Morhettville on December 16. She has been a model of consistency landing in the money at her past five starts at home. Adelaide’s premier rider Jamie Kah has come across to guide and keep safe.
No9 INDIAN THUNDER is a three-year-old who posted a smart win over 1250m at Morphettville on December 16. He was heavily backed into a $2.10 favourite that time. The son of Manhattan Rain gets a nice alley in seven and stable jockey Dean Yendall keeps the ride. Drops 6kg to 54kg here.
VALUE RUNNER: No9 INDIAN THUNDER
No1 ARTICUS ran a cracking second in the Werribee Cup (2000m) on December 10 at his last start. He was backed from $18 into $12 that day and ran home hard in the straight to miss the major prize by centimetres. He only rises a half-kilo to 60kg and stable jockey John Allen stays on top.
No2 SECOND BULLET kept on plugging away to the wire when finishing fifth to Articus in the Werribee Cup (2000m) on December 10. He will carry the same weight on 58kg but gets a change in rider with Damian Lane replacing Craig Williams on the son of Encosta De Lago.
No3 SHOREHAM showed plenty of dash to post a clever win over 1700m at Caulfield last start on December 16. He carried 57kg that day with apprentice Ben Thompson’s 1.5kg claim. Thompson rides here and is on a mere 53kg for his rise in class and distance. Has good prospects.
No7 STRAIGHT JACKET is chasing a hat-trick with good wins at Bordertown and Moonee Valley at past two starts. Latest he beat Multitude in a head-bobbing finish over 2040m at Moonee Valley on December 23. He has no weight with Tahlia Hope’s 3kg claim reducing his weight to a mere 51kg.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 STRAIGHT JACKET
No4 LAST WEEK was a hot $2.25 favourite and won in style by a length over 2040m at Moonee Valley on December 15. Apprentice Ethan Brown’s 1.5kg claim reduces his weight down to 58kg. The Darren Weir-trained gelding has finished in the first two places at his past three starts. Strong chance.
No15 CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE gives premier trainer Darren Weir a strong hand in this race. He won well over 2000m at Mornington at his last start on December 13. The three-year-old drops to 5.5kg today and gets ace jockey Damian Lane to steer from barrier eight. He is unbeaten at the distance.
No9 RAINDROPS ON ROSES was forced to dig very deep to score a narrow win over 2000m against her own sex at Mornington on December 13. She carried 56.5kg that day and gets the same weight here, but her alley is awkward in gate 13. She has an excellent third-up record of a win and a third at two starts.
No8 SHENANDOAH ran a good third to Shoreham over 1700m at Caulfield last start on December 16. That made it consecutive thirds and she will carry 55kg today with Zac Spain’s 2kg allowance. She is from the leading stable of Busuttin and Young and makes her case in spite of her alley in 13.
VALUE RUNNER: No9 RAINDROPS ON ROSES
No6 SILENT GENERAL won two on end at Echuca and Sandown before having colours lowered when finishing a fighting second over 1600m at Moonee Valley on December 15. Was heavily backed from $5 into $3.90 last time and expect strong support today with John Allen to ride.
No3 BEDFORD was caught in a dogfight and showed grit to claw to a narrow win over 1600m at Bendigo on December 6. He carried 59.5kg that day and drops to 56kg here. Mark Zahra is the new pillion and he has drawn to get a soft transit in four. Looms as one of the main dangers.
No1 TENAPPY LADIES is also entered for Sandown on Saturday. This stallion comes here with strong form after posting a .75 length win over 1600m at Moonee Valley on December 15. He carried 55.5kg that time with Stephanie Thornton’s claim. Thornton rides again and he will run with 58kg on his back today.
No9 SHROUDED IN MIST is from the top Adelaide stable of Tony McEvoy and crossed the border for a raid here following his emphatic 4.5 length maiden win at Morphettville on December 15. Rises in class today but has ace Adelaide rider Jamie Kah to guide and is on the limit on 54kg.
VALUE RUNNER: No9 SHROUDED IN MIST
No11 TOY BOY has shone bright as a star and was heavily backed into a $1.90 favourite before claiming his third win at his seventh start over 1200m at Mornington on December 13. He carried 56.5kg and drops to the limit on 54kg with talented rider Nikita Beriman replacing Ryan Maloney here.
No9 MISS WONDERLAND was forced to work hard before claiming her third win at her sixth start over 1000m against her own sex at Sandown on December 2. She has been kept fresh for this encounter and drops 1.5kg to the limit on 54kg. Top female rider Linda Meech keeps the reins.
No2 TSHAHITSI has won at 11 of his 24 starts and is resuming from a 25-week spell. He went out on a big high with a strong win in the Winter Championship (1600m) here on July 8. He has a rock solid first-up record of six starts for two wins and a third. Carries 1.5kg more on 59.5kg here than last start.
No4 CHAMOIS ROAD has finished in the first two places at four of his past five starts. At his last start he ran a gallant second as a $2.20 favourite over 1400m at Morphettville on December 16. He carried 59kg with the 2kg claim He drops to 54.5kg today and gets Group 1 winning rider Michael Dee.
VALUE RUNNER: No4 CHAMOIS ROAD
No6 ETAH JAMES (BEST BET) has been a star for the Cumani stable landing five wins from his seven starts. The son Raise The Flag claimed an imposing 1.75 length win over 2420m at Caulfield on December 16. He drops 2.5kg today down to the limit on 54kg and top jockey Linda Meech keeps the ride. Looks set to claim his fourth straight win and first here at his debut at Flemington.
No9 BINT EL BEDU has two wins and a third to Etah James from past four starts. Looks a chance again.
No7 MY PSYCHIATRIST was a $2.90 favourite when running second over2400m at Caulfield last time.
No8 PARTHESIA the combination of trainer Darren Weir and jockey Damian Lane have proven powerful. Watch.
VALUE RUNNER: No8 PARTHESIA
No13 SO FAR SOKOOL (NEXT BEST BET) ran a close second in a Listed race at Sandown on November 18 before bursting through for a convincing win over 1514m at Moonee Valley on December 15. She was heavily backed into a red hot $1.60 favourite and with leading apprentice Ben Allen to ride and from barrier eight looks to have excellent claims today against her own sex. Carries only half a kilo more on 58.5kg.
No8 SOHO RUBY has been right on the ball at her two starts this preparation and she has an outstanding third-up record.
No6 HECTOPASCAL won very well at Sandown last start and with the 2kg claim will carry 58.5kg.
No3 JESTER HALO (BEST ROUGHIE) form on country tracks has been faultless with two straight wins. Must rank here.
VALUE RUNNER: No3 JESTER HALO