Race 1 - 12:35PM NZB AIRFREIGHT MAX LEES CLASSIC (900 METRES)
2. Market Magic was impressive in his one trial win. The Capitalist colt was given a dig to hold a spot in the early stages before responding nicely when asked to switch off heels in the straight and quicken. He'll have taken plenty of benefit from that hit out. The overall time was sharp as was the time home. Like the way Market Magic ran right through the line, even though you'd expect that over a 737m dash. Tim Clark got a feel for the horse there too and he rides on debut. Training duo Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott appear to have a conveyor belt of smart youngsters at the moment and this two-year-old could be the latest. Deserved favourite.
Dangers: Cylinder ran second in this race on debut last year and Godolphin are well represented again here. 1. Gram, a full brother to Zulfiqar, who was an all the way winner over 1000m on debut at Flemington, has caught the eye in his two trials. The barrier mightn't be too bad, allowing the action to unfold in front of him before getting the last look. His stablemate 4. Efharisto is a half-sister to Vilana and Savatiano. She showed sharp improvement in her second trial. The overall heat time was slow but she trucked through the line. 5. Erno's Cube has the benefit of race experience. Overracing was said to have contributed to her Gimcrack failure. Has trialled well since. 9. Triple Yes split the Godolphin pair in her one trial.
How to play it: Market Magic to win
Race 2 - 1:10PM KARAKA 2024 MIDWAY BENCHMARK 72 HANDICAP (1600 METRES)
5. Resistible had to work early to find the front at Rosehill last start in the Four Pillars. She managed to back off in the middle stages but the damage was done by that point. The four-year-old felt the pinch late but still boxed away to run fourth, not beaten far. The daughter of Snitzel was also only second up, jumping from 1200m to 1500m. First up she contested a deep race at Newcastle over the sprint trip, a race that has produced three subsequent winners. Resistible looks perfectly set up for the mile third up and drawn lower in a race with less speed looks a nice scenario for her to win again. Shouldn't have any excuses.
Dangers: 4. Cosmic Field dashed home over the top to win at Newcastle last start, bouncing back to winning form. The talented gelding showed Nathan Doyle enough in his first campaign to deep end him in the G3 Carbone Club. He couldn't pick his feet up in the heavy conditions. He responded well to a quieter ride last start. The gamble with 9. Let Me Reign is whether she still has the speed in her legs to sprint over the mile having won out to 2000m in the past. Finished alongside Hokkaido last start who franked that form line on Wednesday. 2. Toesonthenose covered ground in the Four Pillars. Finds Nash Rawiller. 11. Street Candi could sneak into a place, getting in light and making her own luck.
How to play it: Resistible to win
Race 3 - 1:45PM TAB HIGHWAY HANDICAP (1600 METRES)
7. Sharp Shock didn't get a lot of room last start at Randwick. He was never going to figure in the finish from where he settled in the run but he should have finished closer than 2.5L. That was in a benchmark race behind Ningaloo Star. Prior to that he was strong late behind Bandi's Boy. That proven to be a strong form reference with last week's Highway trifecta all coming through that 1200m race at Randwick. The gamble for Sharp Shock is the step straight out to the mile. Three starts ago he won over 1100m at Scone. His pedigree suggests the trip will be fine. There is enough in the early price to take the punt. Reece Jones appears to have the key to him.
Dangers: 2. Rematch reeled off a big close to beat a subsequent winner in Let's Try at Newcastle. That saw him start a prohibitive $1.28 at Muswellbrook where he was beaten. Just. That was a rare miss for the training duo of Paul Messara and Leah Gavranich. Of the 11 favourites they've saddled up together, eight have won. 13. Captain Underpants has to come back from 1800m but he put near five lengths on his rivals at the Sunshine Coast last start and the runner up has since won. 17. Discreet Lady has overachieved in Highway company at big odds in the past. Suspect she'll do that again on Saturday. 10. Devocean didn't have much luck last start.
How to play it: Sharp Shock to win
Race 4 - 2:20PM NZB INSURANCE F&M BENCHMARK 78 HANDICAP (1400 METRES)
Here we go again with 5. Lekvarte. The early price is too tempting. The grey mare fires fresh and has an excellent record at Newcastle. First up over 1400m is another tick, she has trialled well twice ahead of her return and she'll get a dry track. That's a lot of positives for a horse at double figure odds. The five-year-old resumed in a very similar race to this last campaign and ran exceptionally well, coming from last to run fifth on heavy ground. She'd been hopeless on heavy tracks prior to that. Like the booking of Josh Parr who is riding with confidence and getting his timing spot on. That's critical with this mare given her turn of foot.
Dangers: 3. Portray had her chance at Randwick last start riding the speed at Randwick over 1400m, run down late by Gringotts. Back to fillies and mares company now fourth up and Nash jumps on. Nash jumps off 1. Zoe's Promise. Thought she did enough first up over 1300m. Her two previous wins have been over the mile. Might need one more but she had three trials prior to resuming. 4. Fall For Cindy went to the line with Portray before boxing on well behind I'mintowin in her start since. She too is well placed back to her own sex. 6. Hide Your Heart is chasing four straight wins. This is harder again but respect that she is playing at home.
How to play it: Lekvarte each way
Race 5 - 2:55PM ALF KNEEBONE TRANS-TASMAN TROPHY BENCHMARK 88 HANDICAP (1850 METRES)
12. I'mintowin was just as impressive on the clock as he was to the eye on his Australian debut at Rosehill a fortnight ago. The former Kiwi went straight to the front, ran along and just kept on running. He was there to be beaten late. Hokkaido has since franked the form. Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott have wasted no time getting the son of Contributer out in trip, jumping from 1500m to 1850m. He also goes from BM78 grade into an 88 but there is plenty of room to move with his rating. He profiles as a horse that'll have no trouble skipping through the grades. Will roll across from the draw and own this race again from in front.
Dangers: 6. Pervade just took a few runs to settle into life in Australia. It's all clicking now. The French import caught the eye at Warwick Farm third up before going one better at Randwick last start. He was given a perfect ride but he maps beautifully again here. Won out to 2100m overseas. 2. King Of The Castle and 4. Camaguey are both on the quick turnaround from the Big Dance, where they both ran well. There was nothing between them at the finish. The barrier gods have been kinder to King Of The Castle. 1. Aramayo continues to drop weight which sees him well placed in this company after the claim.
How to play it: I'mintowin to win
Race 6 - 3:30PM NEW ZEALAND BLOODSTOCK THE BEAUFORD (2300 METRES)
4. Torrens won the first running of the Beauford two years ago. He trounced his rivals having led. The seven-year-old is a rocks or diamonds style of horse. If he doesn't win he just about runs last. However, there's an easy case to be made that he brings the strongest form line coming into this. He didn't get a lot of luck in the St Leger five weeks ago behind Land Legend who broke the track record. He ran fourth. Second and third were Cleveland and Kalapour who both won their subsequent starts in Melbourne. Even Raging Bull, beaten 10 lengths, came out to run 5. Stroke Of Luck to a narrow margin. Torrens isn't the profile of horse you'd want to be taking short odds about but that's not an issue on Saturday.
Dangers: Want to give 9. Canberra Legend another chance after having genuine excuses in the Rosehill Gold Cup but just not sure what to make of that race. There was two lengths from first to seventh. 2. Stockman was on the hammer of the trifecta on a good track. 3. Sky Lab had a hard luck story to tell and perhaps should have won. Canberra Legend drew wide and couldn't find cover. That prompted an early move to settle outside of the leader. They didn't go quick out in front but the damage was done. Sky Lab was four weeks between runs going into Rosehill but had freshened up nicely. Imagine that this has been a target race on his home track. 1. Numerian has a bit on these class wise and jumped a $3.90 chance in the Craven Plate last start. No knock Stroke Of Luck or even 11. Andalus.
How to play it: Torrens to win
Race 7 - 4:05PM NEW ZEALAND BLOODSTOCK 3YO SPRING STAKES [GROUP 3] (1600 METRES)
1. Kintyre is well placed under the set weight conditions of this race. He has been mixing it with best three-year-old milers in Sydney over the carnival. He was beaten less than a length by Raf Attack and Tom Kitten in the Gloaming Stakes two starts ago. He then found himself posted three deep the trip in the Spring Champion Stakes, which told at the finish. He has had three weeks to freshen up from that, coming back to the mile. Over 1300m and 1400m he was matching motors with his talented stablemate Encap. The son of Hallowed Crown has been up for a long time now but because he doesn't steal any headlines, we're getting a tempting price about his chances.
Dangers: 4. Sly Boots came from last to win his maiden at the midweeks two starts ago. Staying at 1300m then told at the finish second up. He took a while to get himself organised before coming again through the line. That lays a nice platform for the mile third up. 9. Until Valhalla brings midweek maiden form to the table herself but she looks to be a filly going places. Bred to relish the mile and like how she kept finding having led over 1400m last start. 3. Invincible Spy has been beating up on lesser opposition in his two provincial wins to date. Keen to see where he fits in though.
How to play it: Kintyre to win
Race 8 - 4:45PM THE NEWCASTLE HERALD HUNTER (1300 METRES)
1. Mazu has a depth to his form lines none of his rivals can match. It's a near identical preparation to that of Lost And Running, the winner of this race two years ago. The preparation has been a disaster for Mazu so far but he by far gets the best set up on Saturday he's had all spring. First up he gave away an impossible start from the wide draw, was a late scratching from the Premiere and found trouble in the Everest. That perhaps caught up to him in the Giga Kick Stakes. He had his chance but was only 2L off some of the best sprinters in the country. Mazu looked great in a trial since then with Nash Rawiller getting a feel for the five-year-old. No excuses now.
Dangers: Joe Pride's front runner 6. Coal Crusher was an all-the-way winner at this meeting over this trip 12 months ago. That was in the BM88 though. Has form through the right races this time back and we know exactly where he'll be in the run. Blinkers again. 17. Military Expert sets up well first up over 1400m on a dry track. Draws soft, carries the minimum and won his recent trial impressively. Blinkers first time and resumes a gelding. 11. Far Too Easy will just need some luck angling off the fence at the right time. He was outstanding in the Kosciuszko, chasing a hot speed up front. 3. King Of Sparta wasn't suited by a lack of pressure in the Sydney Stakes. He'll rattle home late.
How to play it: Mazu to win
Race 9 - 5:20PM NZB KURT FEARNLEY LEGEND MILE BENCHMARK 78 HANDICAP (1600 METRES)
11. Tavi Time should have won first up. It wasn't a pretty watch. The four-year-old found himself in a horrible position after copping a squeeze in the early stages. Instead of being in behind the leaders he was out the back pegged away on the fence. He went to the line with the hand break on yet still wasn't beaten far. That was first up after a 32 weeks break so he was always going to improve off that too, despite having had three trials prior. The record of this Tavistock gelding speaks for itself. Six starts for three wins and it should read four wins. Coming into this with a rating of 69 there is still a lot of room to move through the grades. Stick with him.
Dangers: 8. Sweet Mercy burst through the pack to win the Four Pillars two weeks ago. That's what she is capable of when she runs up to her best. Can't see why she won't hold that form now fourth up out to the mile. 1. Manbehindthemoney might need the run first up but he ran well fresh last time in and liked what he did thereafter in his first Australian preparation. Maps to get a soft run and found the line in his most recent trial. 3. Rogue Bear looks to be building towards anther win. Was no match for his stablemate Loch Eagle last start but he comes back to BM78 company.
How to play it: Tavi Time to win
Race 10 - 5:55PM 2024 TAB KARAKA MILLIONS BENCHMARK 94 HANDICAP (1300 METRES)
1. Much Much Better was a brave all the way winner at Randwick four weeks ago. Looks well placed out to 1300m now for the flying Sara Ryan stable. Wouldn't say this is any harder than last start despite it being a BM94. That sees the free-striding grey well in after the claim of apprentice hoop Anna Roper. It was Roper who rode him last start, and that was her first ride aboard Much Much Better. Now he has found his best form, expect the sprinter to hold it. It was earlier in his career but he has raced well at this track in the past too. He'll roll forward to take up the running again and look the winner at some point. Would be surprised if he isn't in the finish.
Dangers: 6. Phearson paired off with Grebeni to fight out the finish in the Goulburn Cup last start. There was three lengths back to Another One in third. That was on the back of a complete forget first up. He got chopped out for a run behind Airman. 4. Fender was only fair in the Barn Dance but it was always going to be tricky from the draw. He also lumped 61kg. This sets up much better from barrier 1. 7. Capo Strada comes here a last start winner, gets some weight relief and maps perfectly. 8. Ka Bling can bounce back without surprising while would respect any market confidence for 12. Ita first up.
How to play it: Much Much Better to win
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