The summer of racing twilight at Sandown continues with another entertaining cast of gallopers competing in eight races with the first race to start at 4pm. The fields are generally small but appear competitive.
Etah James is a mare, who has shown a ton of courage and a liking for the longer journeys. She makes her comeback from a six-week break in the Chandler MacLeod Handicap, where she is pitched against her own sex over 2100m.
The Matt Cumani-trained mare gets the hot apprentice Stephanie Thornton to ride today. Thornton’s 3kg claim will reduce her impost to a comfortable 58.5kg and she looks to have too much class on her opposition. Classy three-year-old Salsamor comes out of top class stakes racing in the spring to tackle older horses in a Sandown midweek in Mitavite Summer Challenge (Heat 3) over 1400m. He is on the 54.5kg limit and has a great fresh record.
The track is rated as a Good 3 (Monday) but there is rain forecast for Wednesday. The weather will be cool with a maximum of 22C forecast. The False Rail will be at seven metres after they raced at the three-metre position last Wednesday.
QUADDIES (races 5,6,7,8)
Skinny Play: 9 – 6,9 – 9,12 – 3,11
Wide Play: 1,9 – 6,8,9,10 – 4,7,9,12 – 3,11,13,14
BEST BET: R3 – 1. ETAH JAMES
Next Best Bet: R5 – 9. SALSAMOR
Best Roughie: R7 – 4. CITRUS WISH
No4 HIKAYA suspected to have got her tongue over the bit so draw a line through her last start last of five over 1200m at Ballarat on January 30. Her debut at Morphettville was encouraging with a good effort and respect here.
No3 GHEEDAA drifted out of the gate from $14 to $20 but sprung a surprise when running a strong third over 1100m in a maiden at Sale on January 21. Top jockey mark Zahra is her new pillion and looms as a strong chance.
No1 ALL TOO HANDY has been most handy maintaining a 100 per-cent strike rate for finishing in the placings. Latest she ran a worthy third over 1000m at Moonee Valley on February 2. She kept on working down the straight and is fit.
No5 MELVEEN copped a decent bump at her debut before finishing sixth over 1200m at Caulfield on February 3. Kinky Boom won the race and she is a top fancy for the Blue Diamond so there is form in the race. Keep in mind.
VALUE RUNNER: No1 ALL TOO HANDY
No3 HEAVENLY THOUGHT faces a small but competitive field in this maiden. The Darren Weir-trained colt is resuming from a 21-week spell, but was encouraging enough at debut campaign with a second fifth and fourth over 1600m to warrant fresh.
No5 THE ROUSEABOUT has shown ability at his two gate trials. Latest she kicked away to claim a fighting win over 990m at Cranbourne on February 5. He gets the in form Mark Zahra to ride at his race debut and would respect.
No7 WHOOMPH made a promising return from a 29-week spell with a good third over a 1200m maiden at Pakenham on February 1. Stephen Baster keeps the ride and would expect natural improvement.
No6 THUNDERZONE is a nicely bred three-year-old from the astute co-trainers of Team Hawkes returning to the track from a 23-week spell. He was turned out following his debut ninth over 1206m in a maiden at Benalla on September 4. He was backed late into $10 and ran a fair enough race to stick to at his return. Watch betting.
VALUE RUNNER: No6 THUNDERZONE
No1 ETAH JAMES (BEST BET) looms as the star bet on the eight-race card today. She is a terrific stayer with a great willpower and she is quite capable to win off a six-week break. She ran a top second over 2800m in the Listed Bagot Handicap at Flemington on January 1. She is back against her own sex here and with the in form apprentice Stephanie Thornton’s 3kg claim will have her weight reduced to a comfortable 58.5kg.
No2 ASHLEE MARIE is on a six-day back up after running second over 1600m last start. Can lead.
No3 STORMY SHORE was the one finishing the strongest over 1800m here last start.
No5 LILYMORN can rebound from a fair effort last start here over 1800m and is worth thought.
VALUE RUNNER: No5 LILYMORN
No4 HERMANITO will be hunting for back-to-back wins after breaking maiden status here in a 1400m maiden here on January 31. He was easy in the betting at $3 that day and has again drawn five and Brad Rawiller stays on top.
No6 ISLE OF CAPRI there were some excuses behind her seventh over 1800m against her own sex here on January 31. She gets a new jockey with Damien Oliver taking the reins and she drops in class here so that is a bonus.
No1 AURUM SPIRIT is a veteran galloper who has finished inside the money at his past two starts. Latest he was backed into $11 before finishing a strong third over 1600m here on January 31. Each-way.
No3 HOUSTON STREET gave an encouraging first-up run when finishing third over 1400m at Pakenham on January 25. He was backed into a hot $2.40 favourite and would have disappointed his backers, but can improve.
VALUE RUNNER: No1 AURUM SPIRIT
No9 SALSAMOR (NEXT BEST BET) is a top class three-year-old on the comeback. He is weighted on the limit on 54.5kg against older horses. His group placings in the Stutt Stakes and Valley Vase stand him out here. Stutt winner Showtime has returned with a Group 2 placing in Sydney and this bloke is running in a mid-week. He gets ace jockey Dwayne Dunn to guide from the widest gate in nine. He also boasts an outstanding fresh record.
No3 KING’S COMMAND has been consistent without winning this preparation and is an each-way chance.
No1 RUNSON was a good last-start winner at Caulfield and with Zac Spain’s 2kg claim will carry 60kg.
No6 EPIC MOMENT was narrowly beaten by Runson at Caulfield last start. Drops 1.5kg to 57kg today.
VALUE RUNNER: No9 SALSAMOR
No6 SPIRIT OF AQUADA received a big injection of confidence with a tear away 4 length maiden win over 1200m at Pakenham on January 25. He was heavily backed into a $1.45 favourite that day. Ben Thompson rides again and his 1.5kg claim drops his weight to 58kg.
No9 SIRIUS SUSPECT looms as one of the main dangers here following a great maiden win at Kyneton over 1200m on February 3. Goes up a kilo to 59kg and has a wide gate in 13, which is a setback.
No10 BOWERMAN is resuming from a 20-week spell and usually goes okay fresh with two starts for a second and a third. He is a son of champion sire Snitzel and he won his maiden over 1100m at Bendigo three starts ago.
No8 RESERVE STREET was an excellent debut winner at Pakenham before being elevated sharply in class to Flemington where he ran 12th over 1400m on September 27. He ran a nice second over 800m at Cranbourne in preparation for this.
VALUE RUNNER: No9 RESERVE STREET
No12 OUR CHIQUILLA ran a great second behind Weapon over 1300m at Geelong on January 28. Weapon came out and ran a top race in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes at Caulfield on the weekend. She has drawn well in gate seven.
No9 MONTASER comes here off a top third over 1400m at Flemington on January 13. He has only raced three times for a win and two thirds, so he has plenty of upside about him. He must cross from gate nine, but is worthy.
No11 CASTLETON was turned out for a long spell after breaking his maiden status in a 1600m maiden at Sale on September 16. He ran a nice second in a warm up trial over 1200m at Geelong on January 29. Makes appeal.
No4 CITRUS WISH (BEST ROUGHIE) was a brilliant winner over 1755m at Geelong two starts ago before finishing fifth of seven over 2050m at Moe on October 19. She has a good draw in five and her fresh record is okay.
VALUE RUNNER: No4 CITRUS WISH
No3 TROJAN STORM was a super winner over 1200m at Pakenham two starts ago when cruising in by 2 lengths. Last start ran a strong third over 1200m at Moonee Valley on January 26. Goes up 3kg to 60.5kg but is down in class.
No7 STREETSHAVENONAME had excused last start when was held up at the 300m and lost ground before finishing seventh over 1200m at Pakenham on February 1. If gains a clear run from gate six will be in the finish.
No14 SCOLIARO worked home very well to run a close fifth to Holy Blade over 1000m here on January 31. She gets Ethan Brown’s 2kg claim today to reduce her impost to 55.5kg and she has drawn on the inside in three.
No11 PATIENT has been nominated a few times but has been withdrawn. Comes to town with a smart win over 1200m at Mornington on New Year’s Day. She romped home by 4 lengths and she is down a kilo to 58.5kg today.
VALUE RUNNER: No11 PATIENT