MANNING Valley Race Club will conduct a seven event TAB card today at the Bushland Drive track, with the first race at 12.40pm
Track likely Soft 6 with the rail out 4m from 1000m to the winning post so an even pattern early before late trend wider and further off the speed.
Race 1 at 12.40pm De Bortoli Wines Maiden Handicap (1000m) - minimum weight 55kg and apprentices can claim:
The maiden sprinters get a very competitive and open meeting underway. Improving 2YO Wyong filly 8. The Neon Knight (Jeff Englebrecht/Robert Thompson, 57kg) is ready to win on the quick back-up at fifth run this prep. Comes through superior form-lines for a race like this, latest finishing hard at Scone behind highly-rated youngster Married To The Mob.
Main dangers: Big watch on Cessnock 3YO gelding 2. Rubick's Command (Rubick x Taylor's Command by Commands) who debuts off a strong and forward heavy track trial at Muswellbrook; while 5YO Port Macquarie debutant 1. Lord John Grey has also trialled well in rain-affected ground.
Likely tempo: Strong
My betting attack: The Neon Knight to win
Race 2 at 1.15pm Tooheys extra Dry Maiden Plate (1600m) - wet weights and apprentices can claim:
Out to the mile now in a more tricky affair. Like the value about Newcastle 3YO 4. Gameman (Nathan Doyle/Koby Jennings, 59kg) resuming again for only his third start. Worked home nicely at Scone in a deeper maiden in mid March, and returns over the same trip, with blinkers going on. Has trialled quietly behind some talented ones.
Main dangers: Capable home track 3YO 2. Dunoon is the clear threat at third start from a nice draw and back on preferred soft ground. Port Macquarie 3YO 3 Flying Mojo has consistently worked home in handy maidens this prep, and the wetter the better. Watch for further improvement from Newcastle 3YO 6 Omaka; while Port 4YO 5 Honovi is still searching for a first win after 17 runs and goes up sharply in weight, but is hard fit and has found the line nicely in his last few.
Likely tempo: Solid
My betting attack: Gameman to win and quinella 2 and 4
Race 3 at 1.50pm Super Dry 3.5 Maiden Plate (1250m) - set weights and apprentices can claim:
Keen on Newcastle 3YO 8 Syncline (Kris Lees/Andrew Gibbons, 59kg) resuming as a gelding off a long break, with blinkers on for the first time. Looked sharp winning the second of two trials, and should relish these conditions. Was scratched from Scone on Friday to be saved for this.
Main dangers: Rival Newcastle 3YO 5 New York Nick charged home second-up in the heavy at Muswellbrook, and this looks a little easier. Local 4YO 4 Hashtag Viking likes to roll forward, and can give some cheek back in distance. Has had four fair runs back from a long break, but this isn't strong, and will find a nice forward position. Include 6YO local mare 9 Celia La Paloma which produced a best run in a while at Grafton, although doesn't want it too soft; while Wyong mare 10. Schengen has also been up for a while, and comes off a tidy closing run in a handy maiden at Scone.
Likely tempo: Good
My betting attack: Syncline to Win
Race 4 at 2.25pm Iron Jack Class 1 Handicap (1250m) - minimum weight 55kg and apprentices can claim:
Good quality tussle for this grade, with plenty of chances. Progressive 3YO Wyong gelding 3. Fantasy Eagle (Allan Denham/Rory Hutchings, 59.5kg) can break through at only fourth start in his first prep. Finished hard to win his maiden in heavy ground at Port before again doing his best work late here. Peaking time!
Main dangers: Home track 4YO gelding 1 Flash Palace comes out of that same race here as top selection when finishing hard from a little further back, and can peak third-up. Will likely drift a long way back from the wide draw, but watch for him charging late. Newcastle filly 6 Cool Missile is right in the mix at fourth start from a soft draw and blinkers going on after attacking the line in a handy Class 1 at Dubbo; while Wyong filly 8 Brookwyn resumes off two improving provincial trials for an in-form stable, but jumps from the outside gate.
Likely tempo: Solid to Good
My betting attack: Fantasy Eagle to win and trifecta 1, 3, 6/1, 3, 7, 6, 8/1, 3, 6, 7, 8
Race 5 at 3.05pm TAB Benchmark 58 Handicap (1000m) - minimum weight 55kg and apprentices can claim:
Tough and wide open race. Home track 6YO gelding 5 Makuba (Tony Ball/Ms Mikayla Weir a0kg, 59kg) won two straight in smart fashion this grade before holding on okay in a stronger BM 66 here. Back to right class, and draws to get an ideal trail just off the speed.
Main dangers: Coffs Harbour 3YO filly 3. In A Step can mix her form, but she handles wet tracks and has enough ability in this grade. Grafton mare 6 Vivid Image resumes without a public trial, but has a sound fresh record. Coffs 6YO mare 7 All About Charlie also comes off a fair closing effort behind Mr Polar in that same benchmark 66 here, and is consistent enough on rain-affected ground. Big watch on former Warwick Farm-based mare 1 Boom Queen having her first start in 10 months for new local stable. Was competitive in stronger company last prep, but likely to need the run carting 62kg from a wide draw.
Likely tempo: Good
My betting attack: Makuba each way
Race 6 at 3.45pm XXXX Gold F & M Benchmark 58 Handicap (1400m) - minimum weight 55kg; fillies and mares; and apprentices can claim:
Same grade, but out in distance for the girls. Kempsey 4YO mare 3. Gwennybegg (Barry Ratcliff/Raymond Spokes, 60kg) is a progressive wet-track performer. Finished too well to win a class 1 at Tuncurry two runs back before strong late again in a better BM 58 race at Grafton. Drops back in trip, but has been sparingly raced this prep.
Main dangers: Consistent Port Macquarie mare 7 Havana Storm has never raced better, narrowly beaten in two straight before rattling home from well back to land a class1 at Grafton. Up in weight, but handles all conditions, and draws to get a soft run with cover. Local 4YO mare 2 Good Excuse has worked home okay in her last couple, and should find this a little easier, although up in weight and back in trip. Wyong mare 4. Mahervellous was no match for a smart one this grade at Scone last start, but will find this easier, although her best form is on firm ground. Stablemate mare to top selection 1 Shy One comes back to the grade in which she won two straight in autumn before tackling tougher company. Has been freshened, but up significantly in weight. Port filly and last start heavy track maiden winner 10. Always Hot is best of the rest.
Likely tempo: Fair to solid
My betting attack: Gwennybegg to win and first four 2, 3, 7/1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10/1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10/1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10
Race 7 at 4.20pm Saxbys Soft Drink C, G & E Benchmark 58 Handicap (1400m) - minimum weight 55kg; colts, geldings and entires; and apprentices can claim:
Now the boys get a crack over the same trip to close the meeting. Capable Wauchope 5YO gelding 6. SALTY RAIN (Grant Prosser/Matthew Bennett, 57kg) can claim a third win well into a long prep. Charged home from a mile back in a handy CL2 at Port, and at his best in soft ground.
Dangers: Kempsey 4YO gelding 1 First Time Lucky gets out to his right trip third-up, with blinkers going on. Local 4YO 2 Senatorial resumes with no official trial, and normally takes a run or two, although both career wins have been here and bandages coming off is a positive sign. Include both Muswellbrook 5YO 7 Dragoneight; and local 4YO 4 Shake On It second-up in exotics.
Likely tempo: Solid
My betting attack: Salty Rain to win
My Best Bets: Race 1 (8) The Neon Knight***; race 3 (8( Syncline**; race 4 (3) Fantasy Eagle**
My Best value: Race 6 (3) Gwennybegg**; race 7 (6) Salty Rain**
Trainers to follow: Kris Lees*, Tony Ball*
Jockeys to follow: Andrew Gibbons*