Race 1 - 11:20AM ST JOHNS PARK BOWLING CLUB 2YO CLARENDON STAKES (1400M)
3. Basquiat ($5 equal favourite on TAB) was beaten fair and square at Warwick Farm on debut by North Star Lass but that filly went on to run fifth in the Percy Sykes Stakes at Group level while he comfortably held 11. Invasive ($17) that day too, who has gone on to run 1. Green Shadows ($6.50) and 4. Owen County ($10) to narrow margins since. The $1.9m colt has looked sharp in a tickover trial since and although jumping from 1100m to 1400m at his second start with five weeks between runs is hardly an ideally set-up, particularly on a wet track, he does look a two-year-old with some quality. The other positives here are that he has the tactical speed to use the barrier to park up just in behind the speed and of all of Chris Waller's runners, James McDonald rides this one.
Dangers: 5. Burgunder ($8.50) is out of an Oaks winner so it was no surprise to see him find a couple too sharp on debut at Hawkesbury over 1100m. After being left flatfooted when the sprint went on, he was raising a second effort through the line to come again. Don't mind the wide draw allowing Josh Parr to glide across in his own time. He'll need to turn the tables on 2. Master Showman ($9.50), but confident he can over an extra 300m. There was a lot to like about the way 4. Owen County knuckled down to win on debut over 1400m but he needed every metre of the trip. The knock is that he could be looking for further already. His pedigree suggests he'll be a Derby prospect as a three-year-old. Green Shadows scored a determined win at Goulburn on debut over 1300m at double-figure odds before backing that up at Eagle Farm last start on a good track.
How To Play It: Basquiat WIN
Race 2 - 11:55AM TAB HIGHWAY HANDICAP (1100M)
4. Extravagent Lad ($8.50) gets the nod in a very open Highway Handicap. The three-year-old has measured up in Highways in the past already, running third behind Markwell Dreamer in one at the backend of last preparation. He started a $5.50 chance that day too. He was left in front and run down late. He'll be the one doing the stalking this time with plenty of speed engaged right across the track. The wet track is fine and he comes to hand quickly. The Scott Collings-trained gelding resumes here without an official trial but he won first-up last preparation on a heavy track over 1100m, albeit in maiden grade. Just ticks a couple of boxes here that a lot of his rivals don't and would be surprised if he isn't somewhere in the finish at each-way odds.
Dangers: 8. Proverbial ($12) kept chasing to win at Scone last start, where Katgully Red ran third, a horse that has measured up in Highways in the past so that gives us an indication that she's up to this. It took her eight starts to break her maiden but she has now won her past two. There was a lot between her and 3. I'm Not Slew ($3.70 fav) when they clashed previously and Proverbial has the benefit of the run under her belt and a better draw. 12. Emerald Bay ($41) gets the blinkers back on. After putting on a bucking display last start at Mudgee she did a big job to finish as close as she did. 15. Overextend ($8.50) is still green but he is learning quickly on the job and will only continue to improve. 13. Brief Statement ($9) has just the five starts to her name and she hasn't done much wrong to date.
How To Play It: Extravagent Lad EACH-WAY
Race 3 - 12:30PM MIDWAY HANDICAP (1500M)
Be very forgiving of 16. Short Shorts' ($6.50) last start failure at Group level. The filly was deep-ended last start in the South Pacific, won by Vilana, after winning a Class 1 at Hawkesbury but she never got a chance to show her wares given she was posted deep throughout. She knocked up and tailed off, but she was entitled to, given the run she had in that company. Significantly, she jumped a well-backed $12 chance that day. The three-year-old comes back to BM72 company on her home track now, where she has already raced well on two occasions, and gets the winkers back on. The daughter of Iffraaj will need some luck finding a spot from the wide draw but there's a lot of speed engaged to there's every chance she pops into a three-wide running line. We'll know our fate after 300m.
Dangers: 7. Bluff 'N' Bluster ($23) got a pass mark first-up at Hawkesbury behind Game Theory but getting onto a heavy track second-up is right in his hitting zone. His pattern means he needs everything to go his way but the draw can see him park closer and he is dangerous at odds. 1. French Bonnet ($4 fav) just kept finding at Randwick last start in this same company . He rises 2.5kg and has a very tricky draw to overcome. However, that makes the task so much harder, not impossible mind you, but it'll take a big effort and a clever ride. 14. Achira ($17) won a Midway with 52kg three starts ago before she was tested in the Adrian Knox where she failed to stay 2000m. Thought she was entitled to do more at Canterbury last start but's she's nicely placed to bounce back.
How To Play It: Short Shorts WIN
Race 4 - 1:05PM BLAKES MARINE BENCHMARK 78 HANDICAP (1800M)
1. Kalapour ($6 into $2.50 fav) burst through the pack to score an impressive win at his first Australian start – that was at Hawkesbury over 1500m a couple of weeks ago. The lightly-raced Irish import has only had the five starts and he looks like a stayer that'll charge through the grades. He'll be allowed to balance up midfield from the draw. He hasn't raced on a heavy track but has skipped through soft ground in the past. Dylan Gibbons's 3kg claim sees him in with 59.5kg, which looks handy given he lumped 61kg first-up in this same grade. Gibbons rode the son of Ifraaj in his Gosford barrier trial prior to his Hawkesbury win. The majority of his most obvious threats look to be horses that finished well behind him last start so all being equal, he should win again.
Dangers: 11. Global Ausbred ($8) does bring a different form line and is a horse brimming with confidence at the moment. He jumped out of the ground at his fourth career start at Goulburn to break his maiden at double-figure odds before coming straight to town and winning by an even bigger margin. He worked in the middle stages to find the front but once he got there he never looked back, Appears to be on a sharp upward spiral and the way he ran through the line last start suggested that 1800m won't be a problem. He is bred to get a trip too. 4. Shibli ($12) has a similar margin to turn around but he found winning form third-up last preparation and maps nicely.
How To Play It: Kalapour WIN
Race 5 - 1:40PM LIVING TURF BENCHMARK 78 HANDICAP (1100M)
17. Sacrimony ($5) needs a couple of scratchings to guarantee his spot in the field but if he does, he fits in beautifully parking up in behind a genuine speed with the run under his belt. There's a case to be made that the Chris Waller-trained gelding should have won first-up after being locked away in the straight at Hawkesbury behind Norwegian Bliss. He would perhaps be better suited getting out to 1200m or 1300m second-up as opposed to staying at 1100m, but the heavy track holds no fears and he lands in a perfect spot. That negates those queries a touch. His form through his first racing preparation pegged him as a horse that could potentially go right on with it as he matures and his first run back only emphasised that further. If he can stay in touch with a couple of very speedy rivals, he possesses the finish to make his presence felt late.
Dangers: 8. Authentic Jewel ($4.80 fav) won three of her five starts last preparation and was only beaten once after finding the front, and that was in the Listed Gosford Guineas. She gets into a rhythm up top and runs her rivals ragged. Jay Ford has ridden her five times in the past for three wins and two placings. 2. Rainbow Connection ($11) progressed quickly in his first campaign, winning a midweek maiden on debut before placing a Listed and Group race at just starts three and four. Has been sidelined for a year since and maybe he'll need this first-up but he is a four-year-old worth following. 16. Billiondollarbaby ($6.50) was slow to recover after failing last start – that was back in August last year as an even-money favourite. Have liked the way she has trialled this time back and although she is 36 weeks between runs, she's a big watch.
How To Play It: Sacrimony WIN
Race 6 - 2:15PM HAWKESBURY XXXX GOLD RUSH (1100M)
Very nervous about 2. Malkovich ($2.70 to $2.25 fav) if the track comes up heavy. The speedster gets through soft ground okay but his two heavy track runs have been pretty plain. One of those was last start over the autumn carnival, albeit in the Group 1 Galaxy but he was entitled to do more having parked outside of the leader. He was the first horse beaten. The blinkers come off for the first time for the four-year-old and he has been freshened up since that failure. Typical of Malkovich, he has trialled like a rocket since then, winning his heat over 1050m at Randwick by a widening eight lengths. He was made to find the line too. He shouldn't have too much trouble finding the front in a race without another obvious leader, which sees him as the horse to beat, even with the query over the track rating.
Dangers: It was a welcome return to form from 8. Our Bellagio Miss ($16) first-up at Warwick Farm behind a smart one in Athelric. She was well held by the winner but she lumped 60kg and had never won first-up in the past so she can only improve off that. She skips a few grades but drops 7kg because of it and it might be a case of the right race at the right time. 1. Eleven Eleven ($5) tends to improve sharply second-up. He is yet to win in seven first-up runs and comes here with just one trial under his belt, albeit over 1200m. The class runner but he might need the hit out. It's a similar case for 6. Tycoonist ($4.80). He too typically runs to a pattern of needing the run first-up. The wet track is fine though and love the way he found the line in his one trial this time back.
How To Play It: Malkovich WIN
Race 7 - 2:50PM BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB GROUP HAWKESBURY GUINEAS (1400M)
1. Mr Mozart ($3 into $2.20 fav) has found career best form. It's coincided with two wet tracks and being ridden for speed. He stacked up his rivals in the Gr 2 Phar Lap two starts ago and just kept on running, leaving the subsequent Tulloch Stakes winner Character in his dust. That was his first exposure to heavy ground and he relished it. His last start win was even better. Despite being softened up throughout in the Doncaster Prelude by The Frontman, Mr Mozart rallied under pressure to hold off Our Playboy who won himself two weeks, franking the form line. The Team Hawkes-trained colt looks well in with 59kg given his high benchmark rating. He is nine points higher than the second highest. He wouldn't have been out of place in the All Aged Stakes had he made the field but this looks a nice consolation.
Dangers: 6. Loch Eagle ($5) gets a 1kg weight swing on 5. Vilana ($8) but he was left without any excuses having found the back of the winner in the run. He still ran well and Hugh Bowman jumps back on having ridden him first and second-up where he won so impressively. The map looks better for him than Vilana which is the case for him to turn the tables. Vilana has now won three of his past four and is a colt that keeps improving every time he steps out. He'd need to improve again to match it with the likes of Mr Mozart but he is trending the right way. The barrier is a touch sticky. Not sure what the intentions will be from out there but he has shown that he can win from in front and behind already. 11. Party For One ($13) gets the blinkers on for the first time and although Espiona was lengths too good last start, she was brave in defeat given she didn't find the right part of the track.
How To Play It: Mr Mozart WIN
Race 8 - 3:30PM PIONEER SERVICES HAWKESBURY CROWN (1300M)
10. Brookspire ($3.40 fav) fits in well here. The Chris Waller-trained mare comes to hand quickly, handles wet tracks and has the tactical speed to take up a forward spot. The four-year-old only won one of her four starts last campaign despite starting hard in the market on all four occasions but she never ran poorly. It was just circumstance and the speed and talent of Expat that brought her undone. Her overall record speaks for itself, winning four of her 12 starts and placing in a further four. Brookspire cruised to the line in her one barrier trial this time back suggesting she can at least return to the form of last campaign, which sees her as an early favourite. And rightly so. James McDonald does the steering and although it's a capacity field of mares, there are a lot of backmarkers engaged.
Dangers: 11. Fashchanel ($7.50) didn't find winning form until fifth and sixth-up last preparation but she went to the paddock on the back of two wins and resumes here with three trials under her belt. She has looked great in those trials too. She has only clashed with Brookspire once in the past, back in early 2021, and she beat her home. 7. Cliff's Art ($19) moved into the race first-up like she was going to fight out the finish but just peaked on her run the last 100m, as she was entitled to do. It was an encouraging return from the import given she had spent a year on the sidelines prior. Two lengths off Our Playboy reads well for this and there wasn't a lot between her and Art Cadeau on the line. 16. Exotic Ruby ($34) can run well at odds. She handles all conditions, won second-up last preparation and has already won at this track.
How To Play It: Brookspire WIN
Race 9 - 4:10PM RICHMOND CLUB HAWKESBURY GOLD CUP (1600M)
1. Olmedo ($19) found 1200m too sharp first-up at Newcastle in the Star Kingdom but he was only beaten two lengths by Gem Song before not getting much room in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes. The form guide reads 10th of 14 beaten nearly 10 lengths but he was chopped out for a run halfway down the straight and looked as though he might have had something to offer late. He wouldn't have won but a fast-finishing fifth in an All Aged all of a sudden reads very nicely back to a Group 3 out to the mile. Instead, he has been overlooked by the market. The French import is at the tail end of his career but there is no knock on his quality. He has raced at the highest level ever since debuting back in 2017. Maybe we saw a glimmer of that old form last start. Enough to warrant a speculator at the odds, anyways.
Dangers: 13. The Frontman ($11) was wide and working mid-race last start behind Our Playboy and knocked up to be well beaten. Forget that run. Liked what he did prior to that, giving a sight from in front before peaking on his run. Have mapped him to find a similar spot here and wouldn't be surprised to see him improve sharply. 11. Art Cadeau ($5.50 fav) was unlucky last start behind Our Playboy. He probably should have won. That was on the back of an encouraging return behind Gem Song over 1200m. The timing looks right to try the mile again. This looks to be a target race for 8. Kirwan's Lane ($6). It's his second-up record that jumps off the page. He poked home okay late at Randwick first-up but expect him to improve a couple of lengths off that. 6. Archedemus ($12) loves this track.
How To Play It: Olmedo WIN
Race 10 - 4:45PM VOIR GRAND CLASSIC BENCHMARK 78 HANDICAP (1300M)
Loved the way 7. Samoot ($6.50) put her rivals to the sword at Canterbury Park in her first Australian run before failing to back that up at Rosehill behind Emanate in Group 3 company. More was expected of her given that she jumped a $4.80 chance. The import moved into the race like she was going to really let down late but couldn't sustain her sprint. It was fleeting. The four-year-old has been freshened up since then, with six weeks between runs, and comes back to BM78 company. She's had a tickover trial at Newcastle since. Not overly enthused by barrier 1 for her given she is going to be buried back in the pack and needs luck getting out but if she gets the breaks and bounces back to her best, they'll do well to hold her out.
Dangers: The competition is getting that little bit harder each time 3. Norwegian Bliss ($3 into $2.60 fav) steps out but she just keeps on winning. Nathan Doyle has done a brilliant job placing her to date. She never looked comfortable at Hawkesbury first-up over 1100m, being niggled at to keep in touch, but she still did enough to remain undefeated. The wet is fine and she can make her own luck again. 5. Luvoir ($26) won first-up over this track and trip two preparations ago. He just found the competition too stiff last campaign, with the drop back to BM78 level more his go. Has trialled well ahead of his return and he looks a good knockout hope. Big watch on 8. Sibaaq ($10). Liked the way this import has trialled ahead of his Australian debut. Respect any market confidence.
How To Play It: Samoot WIN