Race 1 - 12.20PM CANADIAN CLUB BENCHMARK 78 HANDICAP (2000 METRES)
10. Lyrical Gangster is a lightly-raced four-year-old with plenty of staying potential. The gelding comes through midweek form but he has upside that none of his rivals can match. At his past two starts he has clocked the fastest closing splits of the entire meeting at the end of 1800m.
One of those resulting in an unlikely win three weeks ago. He was still last and under heavy riding at the 300m mark but charged late to get the verdict on the line. The way he attacked and ran right through the line suggests he'll relish 2000m, and even further in time. The prospect of balancing up in the Kembla Grange straight also appeals with just 52.5kg on his back, given he jumps in grade. He doesn't possess much early speed but you'd think from barrier 1, and without a lot of pressure on paper, he'd be able to hold some kind of midfield position.
Dangers: 1. Touristic looks ready to win now after two runs back from an eight week freshen. He couldn't quite get Rise To It at Rosehill two weeks ago, giving the winner 6.5kg. No excuses now out to 2000m. The 61kg is a leveller. There has to also be a query over that Rosehill race given there was just three lengths from first to last and Made By Khan, who ran third, was subsequently beaten five lengths in the Taree Cup. 6. New Republic was only second up himself when fifth through the same race as Touristic. He loomed from last but peaked late. Draws to settle a pair closer. 4. Cruz Missile was only fair first up at Randwick when beaten a long way by Gringotts but a sprint home didn't suit, nor did the 1400m. His latest win in NZ came over 2100, that was in Listed company
How To Play It: Lyrical Gangster to win
Race 2 - 12.55PM TAB HIGHWAY HANDICAP (1400 METRES)
7. Our Orator didn't have much fall his way over 1400m last start. Here he is two weeks later in a near identical race, another Class 3 Highway Handicap, trading Rosehill for Kembla Grange. The better draw helps too. The four-year-old jumps on terms a fortnight ago but had to be dragged back from the wide gate. Dylan Gibbons was forced to ride for luck from back there and the splits didn't come when he needed them. There is a case to be made that he should have been fighting out the finish with The Dramatist. Want to trust that form line. We're not getting the $51 that was bet about Our Orator there but there is enough in the early price to justify an each way gamble that he can at least reproduce what he did at Rosehill. That would have him thereabouts.
Dangers: 2. Tribeca Star made a wide sustained run at Rosehill last start to win a Highway Handicap over 1200m. He also overcame a slow tempo up front. The win was much better than the margin suggests. Cops an extra 2.5kg but draws barrier 1 so won't have to spend a penny early and Nash Rawiller sticks. Just has to stretch to 1400m for the first time now. 5. Zouatica ran his rivals ragged in his two wins last campaign before jumping a $5 chance in a Highway won by Cliff House. Resumes over 1400m having trialled well behind Frosty Rocks ahead of his return. 13. Sammiballerina is well found but she wasn't beaten far by Tribecca Star last start and finished a close up third to Sharo Shock prior to that first up. 4. Unrelenting and 11. Associate for the exotics .
How To Play It: Our Orator each way
Race 3 - 1.30PM EVERGREEN TURF AUSTRALIA CG&E BENCHMARK 78 HANDICAP (1200 METRES)
13. Runwiththetide holds interest at double figure odds. The three-year-old is on the 11-day turnaround having raced without luck at Rosehill last start. That was in a midweek BM68 in a field of five but it should prove to be a strong form reference going forward with the winner Fleetwood running second to Gustosisimo the start prior. Gustosisimo beat the likes of 8. Contemporary and 3. With Your Blessing in what is a key form reference for this. Runwiththetide had to drag back second up, overraced when the speed came out of the race and was shuffled back to last in what turned into a sprint home. Thought his run in defeat was the equal to anything in the race. That was on the back of an impressive maiden win first up. Runwiththetide get in light, finds a race without a lot of pressure up front and is racing on his home track.
Dangers: With Your Blessing gets the blinkers now and the best win of his career to date came third up last campaign. Contemporary hit the line better than anything behind Gustosisimo but that's become a habit for the James Cummings-trained sprinter, without converting them into wins. There is also a third up pattern with him. Both career wins have come third up in his respective preparations. 7. Smashing Eagle has to stretch to 1200m again and he'd like more pressure in the race that what is promised on paper. However, we know he has a dynamic turn of foot when everything falls into place for him. 6. Plundering looked to peak on his run behind Gustosisimo and he was only first up.2. Cheerful Legend isn't without some claims either.
How To Play It: Runwiththetide each way
Race 4 - 2.05PM PFD FOOD SERVICES F&M BENCHMARK 78 HANDICAP (1200 METRES)
3. Miss Hellfire couldn't have done much more first up given how the race was run and won by Eagle Nest. The race was over after they'd gone 200m. Eagle Nest assumed control and slipped home in very fast time over the Rosehill 1100m. It was game over for anything else in the race. Miss Hellfire kept chasing to hold down third. That was having been well backed late too. She clocked the fastest last 600m and 200m splits of the meeting in defeat. The four-year-old mare also has a history of improving second up. Like the step out to 1200m and that she stays in fillies and mares company. The only knock is where she'll get to in the run. Looking at the potential speed in this race though, it mightn't prove to be any great disadvantage to settle in the second half. Want to be in her corner at the early price.
Dangers: Thought the run of 11. Leandra behind Salisano three weeks ago was at least as good as 8. Junqueira's. Yet there is a big discrepancy in their respective early prices. Leandra was only first up too and maps beautifully here. Looks to have returned better again. Junqueira has no shortage of talent but still does a few things wrong. 4. Dollar Magic brings the same Eagle Nest form line and barrier 1 gives Reece Jones options. 7. Shadows Of Love had to duck and weave into the clear to win a Midway last start, doing a good job to avoid a hard luck story. The barrier doesn't make this assignment as straightforward but expect her to at least hold that form. 9. Eye Pea Oh also comes into this a last start Midway winner and her first up Ballroom Bella form reference ties in with Junqueira and co.
How To Play It: Miss Hellfire to win
Race 5 - 2.40PM MIDWAY HANDICAP (1400 METRES)
3. Byron typically isn't far away in Midway Handicap company. He has lined up in five of them for a win and a narrow second. The six-year-old resumed over 1200m two weeks ago when fifth to Shadows Of Love. He rode the speed having settled outside of the leader and was softened up in the middle stages when the pressure increased. That left him vulnerable late. He still stuck on to be beat just 1.4 lengths at the finish. That gives him a great platform to improve from second up out to 1400m in the same grade. This week's Midway has plenty of runners but not too many natural leaders. Many in the market will settle in the back half and rattle home. That makes Byron dangerous at double figure odds. He'll look the winner at some point.
Dangers: 14. Miss Faberge draws to be giving away a big head start to her rivals but she looks well set up third up out to 1400m. Made a looping run to win at Gosford first up before looming at Rosehill last start before her sprint ended. Is going to need a clever ride from Rachel King to cuddle her up for long enough to explode late. The Robert and Luke Price-trained pair 7. Victory Lane and 13. All Machiavellian would have been targeted at this race on the home track. Victory Lane never got into the race from the wide draw in the Four Pillars. All Machiavellian hasn't been done any favours by the barrier draw but he'll be charging late. Like that BM78 form reference behind Felix Majestic last start. 11. Eau De Vie got the winning feeling back at Wyong last start. Respect 17. Shadows Of Love if she's here.
How To Play It: Byron each way
Race 6 - 3.20PM TRAFFIC LOGISTICS BENCHMARK 88 HANDICAP (1600 METRES)
5. Tazaral improved sharply in his second Australian preparation, as is often the case with imports. He came with a rush to win from last first up last campaign having drawn wide. He then backed that up with a win over 3. King Of The Castle. Just Fine put an end to his winning run but there is no shame in running second to that horse. The winner, who two starts later won the Metrop as an odds on favourite, smashed the clock that day too. That all jumps off the page when assessing the six-year-old's chances on Saturday. He is nine weeks between runs, trialling at Hakwebury since then. Ignore that he ran last beaten nearly 13 lengths. He didn't see which way the likes of Malkovich and Overpass went in that 1000m trial. Tazaral finally draws a barrier too. Don't expect him to be too far away in the run.
Dangers: 1. Loch Eagle has the advantage of being up and running. He ran out a dominant winner at Randwick last start. The race was set up perfectly for him, hence the even money quote, but he delivered. Nash Rawiller sticks. The barrier makes the task trickier. Tazaral's stablemate 9. Substantial, in the same colours, looks to be building towards another win. He got a mile back at Flemington last start from the wide gate but kept chasing. The mile suits now third up. 11. Deficit ran on behind Loch Eagle two weeks ago and was only first up. His second up form reads well. The wide gate doesn't help. King Of The Castle looks the other key hope, backing up from Newcastle. He drops back from 1850m to the mile.
How To Play It: Tazaral to win
Race 7 - 4.00PM THE ILLAWARRA MERCURY GONG (1600 METRES)
3. Osipenko was scratched from the Golden Eagle after he was found to be lame on race morning. It's never an ideal scenario charging into a favourite at their subsequent start after a setback but if this four-year-old rolls in Kembla Grange anywhere near his best, he should win this year's Gong. Look at his form this time back. He has only been beaten a couple of lengths by the likes of Fangirl, Mr Brightside and Alligator Blood in Group One weight for age contests. Forget his Turnbull Stakes failure but respect he was sent around single figure odds. What you have to weigh up is if there is enough juice in the price to take the punt given the set up of seven weeks between runs. Take confidence that Chris Waller has persisted with the preparation and how well he has trialled since. Blinkers first time.
Dangers: Not about to start knocking 1. Cepheus now given what he has done this preparation. Trainer Matt Dunn has made no secret of the fact that the seven-year-old thrives on racing. His lofty rating sees him carry 61kg. There is nowhere to hide for him now. Draws another soft gate. 8. Communist showed a glimmer of his old form in the Golden Eagle. He jumped $201 having done little in his three runs prior but he wasn't beaten far last start despite covering ground throughout. He should get a lovely run throughout in this. 9. Detonator Jack comes back from the 1800m of the Five Diamonds where he was beaten by the lack of tempo up front. He too gets the blinkers first time. 4. Surf Dancer will ride the speed and looks a big improver second up. Look for 11. Waterford and 13. Spangler late.
How To Play It: Osipenko to win
Race 8 - 4.40PM THE WARRA (1000 METRES)
8. Insurrection was posted three deep throughout first up over 1100m and that told at the finish, knocking up to run fourth. Don't think he'll have too much trouble turning the tables on those that beat him home given the more favourable set up that confronts him on Saturday. The speedy four-year-old draws to get first crack at finding the front. He was also beaten first up last campaign before winning three straight, impressing with sustained speed on each occasion. Zac Lloyd was in the saddle for all three of those wins and he jumps back on. It'll be interesting to see how much pressure comes from the likes of 7. Recommendation and 3. Malkovich in the early stages. It'll also be decisive to the chances of Insurrection. He is 4:2-2-0 over 1000m. Looks set to bounce back.
Dangers: Tim Clark and 6. Dragonstone will be hoping that the leaders carve each other up. Ran second to I Am Me and third to Buenos Noches before spelling. They are some serious sprinting form lines. Just has to cope with the 1000m. There was little between 12. Brudenell and Insurrection when the pair clashed back in July. Gets in with just 52.5kg and maps to get his chance. Not surprised the market has found him early. 4. Cannonball was okay at Flemington first up. He beat 2. Athelric last campaign before running third in the G1 Galaxy second up. That reads well for this. 10. Quick Tempo showed his versatility last start winning from outside of the leader. Wouldn't expect that here.
How To Play It: Insurrection to win
Race 9 - 5.20PM ELITE SAND & SOIL BENCHMARK 78 HANDICAP (1000 METRES)
5. Headwall is a sprinter loaded with raw talent. The Matt Smith-trained gelding was still a work in progress last preparation yet still delivering. There is still more to come. Headwall won second up last time in but bad luck saw him beaten either side of that performance. One of those was behind Airman. The key will be just angling into the clear when he needs it. The four-year-old has a devastating turn of foot. His starting price profile also jumps off the page when assessing his chances on Saturday. He is yet to start long than $4 in six career starts, jumping $2.70 or shorter in five of them. Has looked sharp in his trials with the now Queensland-based Blake Spriggs coming to Kembla Grange for just the one ride to maintain his association with the son of Dream Ahead.
Dangers: No denying that the recently gelded 3. Emperor was impressive first up, justifying being sent around an odds on favourite in Highway Handicap company, but punters are now being asked to butter up at a similar price in benchmark company. And from a sticky barrier. Hard to beat but well found. The one constant throughout 7. Mabel's career is how brilliant she is fresh. The mare only had one run last campaign and fell just short to Waverider Buoy. She also boasts and excellent 1000m record ( 8:5-2-0). 10. Acapella Sun never got into the race at Randwick first up with the first two upon settling fighting out the finish. Perhaps a little query staying at 1000m but she shouldn't be underestimated at double figure odds.
How To Play It: Headwall to win
Race 10 - 5.55PM ABAX CONTRACTING BENCHMARK 78 HANDICAP (1400 METRES)
6. Mars Mission came away from Rosehill last start with a hard luck story. Without any speed in the early and middle stages all of a sudden barrier 1 in the field of six started to look problematic. Once Atmosphere went with the leader and eventual winner Felix Majestic, the split never came for Mars Mission. It might have only been a small field but it was comparable to what Mars Mission faces on Saturday. It just has a longer tail. A bigger field should ensure a more genuinely run race. That shape of race saw Mars Mission run out a dominant winner the start prior, relishing the speed up front. The kicker for Mars Mission is his price. The son of Deep Field jumped hard in the market two weeks ago as equal favourite. Not sure what he has done wrong to justify now being close to double figure odds.
Dangers: Trainer John Thompson is bullish about how well 4. Crafty Eagle has returned. It's easy to forget that the gelding has only had nine starts. He was devastating when winning first up last campaign in Midway company. Has trialled well twice, maps well and like the intent of tackling 1400m first up. 8. Dream Hour was disappointing second up. Expected much more given how well he won first up. Three weeks between runs and Nash Rawiller jumps back on. Stablemate 10. Cloudland has been excellent in his two runs back. Drawn wide but he has enough speed to overcome that. 11. Fall For Cindy draws out too but is racing well. Hard to get a line on 5. Danaustar but he come well at Kyneton last start from in front.
How To Play It: Mars Mission each way