The Leg Up - Albany Cup Day Edition

Race Day Preview - Thursday 4 May 2017


The Great Southern season finale gets under way with the first division of the 1240-metre maiden and this looks the right race for Bunbury visitor MAREGA to break through. We have followed this three-year-old's progress closely as he appears to have a bit of ability, and we liked the way he returned to form with a fast-finishing fourth at Pinjarra last start. Endured an interrupted start to his preparation, however, he has finally got some continuity with his racing and appears to have a class edge on his rivals. With even luck in running MAREGA should be winning. Honest customer TRUE POWER has placed second in this grade at his past two starts, racing outside the leader on April 16 before leading them up here last Thursday. Likely to roll forward from his outside gate and should give himself every chance from an on-pace position. TEMPLAR'S CROSS drops back in distance after running on well, against the pattern of the day, over 1512 metres here last Thursday. May find a couple a little too sharp over the six furlongs, however, he's race fit, in form and has to be included in your exotic bets, while MESSIAH has shown up at the trials and was in the market at his only start to date when previously trained at Ascot by Stan Bates. He could run a cheeky race first up for Roy Rogers.

Tips: 5-1-4-6 (*amended after Final Scratchings)
Suggested Bet: (5) MAREGA to win.

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There is a few more winning chances in this second division of the 1240-metre maiden, although we did mark consistent local VITAL BOOM clearly on top. The Neil Lee-trained three-year-old was run off his feet when returning from a six-week freshen over 1050 metres on Albany Cup Day and found the 1100 metres too short here last Thursday, making up good late ground along the cutaway rail after getting back to last in a slowly run affair. Should be ready to produce a peak performance stepping up to the six furlongs, on the seven-day back up, and VITAL BOOM gets his chance. Former $170,000 yearling LOVEJOY is next best and looks set to enjoy the run of the race from her low draw. Was sent back to the trials after playing up in the gates and being scratched late on Albany Cup Day, but she looked sharp enough in that 1000-metre heat last Thursday and was given a green light to return to the races. Going to get the right run in transit and if LOVEJOY is on her best behaviour she should give her supporters a run for their money. BATTALION HILL showed plenty in two summer outings when last in work and will no doubt attract attention first up in this, however, we didn't think much of his recent Lark Hill trial performance and he's going to need to improve significantly to win this. FRANKLY SCARLETT was heavily supported to start favorite at his Great Southern debut on Albany Cup Day and ran on well to finish less than a length from the winner, and we have him rated fourth, narrowly ahead of MIGHTY CHANCE, who was particularly unlucky at Narrogin last start.

Tips: 6-9-7-3
Suggested Bet: (6) VITAL BOOM to win.

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While we have been burned a few times this season by over-rating maiden victories, we simply couldn't go past dominant Albany Cup Day debut winner LADY STINGRAY as she takes on more seasoned opposition in this Class Two Handicap. The Roy Rogers-trained three-year-old showed up at the April 6 trials here and followed up with a dominant 1050-metre display, jumping straight to the front and clearing out in the straight to win by almost four lengths. Did lay out noticeably on that occasion, however, a lugging bit has been added to her gear and the form out of that two-and-three-year-old maiden has stood up well since through MONGOLIAN WARLORD and Vital Boom. LADY STINGRAY looks set to jump and run again, and we found it difficult to envisage any of her rivals getting over the top of her late. The only horse capable appears to be smart three-year-old BABBLE, who has simply had no luck at his two starts back from a six-week freshen. Apprentice Randy Tan should have a handle on him now and if he's able to stay out of trouble, then BABBLE has the motor to charge home and make things interesting. ACE'S WISH appears well placed by astute South West-based horseman Bruce Watkins and he looked sharp in a recent Lark Hill trial, placing third against reasonable opposition. Going to enjoy the right run in transit and he's a lock for your exotic bets, while STORMY PLANET has been racing well across the provincial circuit for Team Giadresco and she hasn't been far away at the finish in two starts over the six furlongs in the past.

Tips: 7-1-5-2 (*amended after Final Scratchings)
Suggested Bet: (7) LADY STINGRAY to win.

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The Steve Wolfe stable followed up their four winners on Albany Cup Day by saddling up a treble here last Thursday, and the camp appears to have a mortgage on this Sky Racing Provincial Championship Series Heat with exciting four-year-old CAPTIVATED POINT. The stylish son of Demerit has dominated his rivals over this journey at each of his two starts back from a 24-week spell, settling on the leader's back first up before leading them up from barrier one in this grade last time. We were impressed by how well he performed second up off the 10-day break last start, as there was a danger of a flat run considering how fast he went first up, and that effort was a sign of a horse with considerable depth. CAPTIVATED POINT should again control the race from an on-pace position and we feel as though he's simply going to be far too sharp for his opposition. FRIAR'S GIFT is back in the Great Southern after competing well at Pinjarra and York since a dominant Class Two victory over this distance here three back. Is coming out of a fast 1200-metre event at York and if there's any chinks in the armour of CAPTIVATED POINT then FRIAR'S GIFT is more than capable of cashing in. FORCE ELEMENT has hit a purple patch of form following up his narrow defeat at huge odds on Albany Cup Day with an equally narrow victory here last Thursday. On the quick back-up and can figure again especially considering the sweet run he should get jumping from a low draw, while YOU'RE A RUM'IN is a stablemate of our on-top selection and is a four-year-old with more than his share of ability. Racing for the first time in 47 days and we expect him to drift back in running and work home into the top-four.

Tips: 3-1-7-5
Suggested Bet: (3) CAPTIVATED POINT to win.

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Very tricky 'open sprint' here and we found it difficult to pinpoint a winner, eventually settling on HOSTWIN PEGASUS. The Peter Western-trained five-year-old has done a tremendous job in the Great Southern this season and it appears as though he's going to get the perfect run in transit, and will no doubt appreciate dropping 5kg after carrying 60.5kg here last Thursday. That was his first run in five weeks, so he was entitled to be a little under-cooked for that assignment, however, he should be close to his best on the seven-day back up. The 1240 metres is an obvious query, however, he shouldn't have to spend a penny in running and he's going to look the winner at some stage in the straight. HOSTWIN PEGASUS each way. Topweight BIG CAROLINE is a talented mare and we liked the way she worked home in a red-hot recent Lark Hill trial, stretching out nicely against some high-class opposition. Appears likely to get back from her mid draw and apprentice Casey Hunter is riding her for the first time, but BIG CAROLINE has some class about her and we expect her to be running on powerfully late. On-pacer NATURALISTE was well supported late in betting at Ascot last Saturday, but dropped out alarmingly in the straight after working forward from barrier 11 to race outside the leader. We're happy to put a line through that performance, as it was out of character and his previous Fitzpatrick Plate performance was arguably a personal best. Loves racing here over this distance and NATURALISTE is capable of bouncing back quickly, while TIGER PETE quickened nicely in this grade last Thursday and if the old fella can hold that form he'll go close in this.

Tips: 7-1-6-3
Suggested Bet: (7) HOSTWIN PEGASUS each way.

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Last start Albany Cup Day winner JESTER ROCK again looks the horse to beat, despite beginning to work his way up in the weights after two victories in this company from his past four starts. Was well ridden by Peter Hall last start and cashed in with a driving short neck victory over 1500 metres and he should again enjoy a comfortable run in transit jumping from a low draw. 59.5kg makes things interesting, however, JESTER ROCK does have a class edge on most of these. OUR BUDDY BOY appears to be the major danger and will appreciate being reunited by Glenn Smith, who rides this fellow particularly well. Likely to roll forward to assume his preferred role as pacemaker and he's going to be hard to get past again. NORTHPACE met with support in betting in a similar assignment to this here last Thursday, chasing home the smart Mr Pago and finishing alongside OUR BUDDY BOY. Is capable of leading this but will more than likely land outside OUR BUDDY BOY and from there NORTHPACE should be able to play a major part in the finish, especially with only 54kg on his back, while former eastern stater DR SYKES edges out FIREMAN FREDDY for fourth. DR SYKES has boxed on after racing three-wide without cover at his past two Pinjarra outings and that form reads well for this assignment.

Tips: 1-4-3-9
Suggested Bet: (1) JESTER ROCK each way.

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Wide open Class Two Handicap here and we initially found at least six winning chances, eventually rating South West visitor SAINT STEPHEN on top. Team Giadresco's four-year-old can find trouble in running, with excuses in most of his last five appearances, but he looks well placed in this assignment and is due for a change of luck. Should have finished several lengths closer last start and he is coming out of two fast Narrogin races, which suggests he should be cherry ripe to produce a peak performance in this. ZIPLINE has been racing consistently without winning of late and has not saluted now for 957 days. Continues to be well supported in betting, despite the drought, and he's expected to have plenty of admirers again. We were keen on the chances of VINO BENETEAU on Albany Cup Day and while he was only beaten two lengths, he didn't quite hit the line like he had at his previous two outings. Performing consistently though and he can't be left out of calculations, while we're locking in fast-finisher MOTORVATOR (who should've finished closer at Ascot last start) for fourth just shading AGROUND and LORD KRONOS.

Tips: 2-5-4-3
Suggested Bet: (2) SAINT STEPHEN each way.

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This is another even race and best of luck if you're attempting to 'get out' as nothing really stands out for us, although it was hard to ignore SPEED 'N' REEF after his game third placing at big odds in the Narrogin Cup. That was a big effort at his third run back from a 34-week spell and while this fellow is no doubt being set for another North West country cups campaign, he only has to hold that Narrogin Cup form to be very hard to beat back in this 60-plus rated handicap. Honest five-year-old KOSTYAZILCH rarely runs a bad race and he worked home well from a long way back in the field to chase home GALINBA BLAST over 2070 metres on Albany Cup Day. Should be able to drop in and enjoy a smooth passage in transit and KOSTYAZILCH is a lock for your exotic bets. 10-year-old marvel GALINBA BLAST has rarely raced better and he followed up his Albany Cup Day victory with a solid Narrogin Cup performance. Finished only 1-1/2 lengths behind SPEED 'N' REEF on that occasion and GALINBA BLAST is expected to make his presence felt again, while SASSENACH was outclassed in the Albany Cup but looks much better suited dropping back to this grade and we wouldn't be surprised to see him go close to winning.

Tips: 3-2-1-4
Suggested Bet: (3) SPEED 'N' REEF each way.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Albany Racing Club.