Raceday focus: Best bets, inside mail for Muswellbrook and Gundagai

Local trainer Stephen Gleeson will be relying on Cosmic Reign’s home track form to give him a win in Sunday’s Bengalla Cup (1280m) at Muswellbrook.

The six-year-old has won four from eight at his home track and four times at Sunday’s trip.

“It’s been the plan all preparation,” Gleeson said. “It gives me a lot more confidence when he races at home. He’s got a very good record and the 1280m is his pet distance.”

Cosmic Reign comes off a last-start win at Muswellbrook after running an uncharacteristic ninth at the track a start earlier.

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Gleeson always wanted to get him to Sunday’s race but he was on trial last start when he won by nearly two lengths after leading all the way.

“He was at the point last start where he needed to fire or he was going to the paddock but the signs were good at home and he’d been working well,” Gleeson said. “His only bad run at his home track was the run before he won but the track was very heavy that day.”

“It was a strong win. He got all the breaks but he never looked like getting beat. He travelled and was well-rated in front and he powered to the line and that’s how he’s won most of his races, especially on his home track.

“There wasn’t a huge amount of options after he won here last start and we always thought he’d head to this race. This has been his only preparation where he’s been a little in and out of form.”

Cosmic Reign only has 55kg on his back this time after lugging 58kg last start and now gets the services of Jeff Penza who will guide him out of barrier six.

MUSWELLBROOK — MATT JONES’ TOP PICKS

BEST BET

INVESTOR (Race 1, No.1)

This three-year-old has raced against some handy types to date and is being brought here to get a win. It’s hard to see him getting beat on form.

NEXT BEST

THE OUTCAST (Race 5, No.1)

He races in a weak event and has won here not long back and ran into an eventual Highway winner since and another in-form horse last start. This is easier.

VALUE

ELEAZAR (Race 4, No.9)

Another horse who has great form around it coming into this bush meeting. He was second to subsequent provincial winner Upper East Side two runs back and runner-up to another in form runner last time.

LATEST BETTING: TAB FIXED ODDS

QUADDIE

Leg 1: 1, 4, 8, 9

Leg 2: 1, 4, 6, 7

Leg 3: 1, 2, 4, 5

Leg 4: 2, 4, 8, 11

JOCKEY TO FOLLOW

MITCHELL BELL can win back-to-back races on Chloebella and Golden Missile in the second and third races.

SCROLL DOWN FOR MATT’S EXTENDED PREVIEW & TIPS

Mitchell Bell could get off to a flying start at Muswellbrook.Source:News Corp Australia

GUNDAGAI — SHAYNE O’CASS’ TOP PICKS

BEST BET

BOXING (Race 2, No.1)

Ran a great race at huge odds behind Fenech at Canberra first-up and has been creditable in his two runs after that. Drawn perfectly to be on-pace and should give a great sight.

NEXT BEST

ADMIRE GRATZI (Race 4, No.8)

Known backmarker who is going to give away a big start again today but he is more than capable of charging late over the top if circumstances allow.

VALUE

DENSEC (Race 7, No.5)

Only won the one race in her 23 starts but she has placed 10 times and that was on a heavy track. Will be strong late here as usual.

QUADDIE

Race 4: 3,8

Race 5: 2,4,5,10

Race 6: 4,6,9

Race 7: 3,5

JOCKEY TO FOLLOW

SIMON MILLER has a grand book of rides and if they all, he will give the TAB Jockeys Challenge a red-hot shake this afternoon.

*****

Expect him to be right in the firing line as the field rounds the home turn.

“He’s well-weighted and drops a lot in weight. He’s got a good front-running rider on which is important because he needs someone on who judges the speed well,” Gleeson said.

“He doesn’t have to lead but he’s got to be pretty handy and he’s got a reasonable draw. I want it to be a soft track. He gets through heavy but doesn’t finish it off as well.

“It’s a typical Open handicap. They’re always strong at Muswellbrook and there’s five or six that could win without an issue.”

Gleeson also runs Casa de Reign and Swaysir against each other in the third race and while both don’t have the best of form on paper he feels one of them has the ability to cause an upset.

“Swaysir’s been disappointing on paper in his races but he has ability. He’s trialled very well for me in both preparations,” Gleeson said. “He’s looking for at least 1200m after being a bit plain over 1000m last start but he did make up a lot of ground first-up.

“He does get a bit hot in the parade so I’m hoping he settles down and saves it all for the race. He needs to put it all together on the day.”

“Unfortunately Casa de Reign hasn’t shown what his brother (Cosmic Reign) has.”

Hall of Fame jockey Robert Thompson will have to be on his game in the barriers with Pearl Roan at Muswellbrook. Picture: Brendan RadkeSource:News Corp Australia

Meantime, Newcastle trainer Steve Hodge will have his fingers crossed before they jump in the fourth at Muswellbrook. That’s because his four-year-old grey Pearl Roan has been doing just one thing wrong in her races.

“The worst part about her is that she misses the start. It’s become a habit,” Hodge said.

“I’ve got Robert (Thompson) on this time so if anyone can get her to jump it will be him.”

Pearl Roan is first-up from a 21-week spell after she won two-straight races last preparation at Scone and ran third in a lead-up trial but it was a hot one.

She races in a Benchmark 66 Handicap (1000m) and this is her pet distance.

“She trialled well behind Star Raider and Le Romain and whatever she does on Sunday will improve her,” Hodge said.

“She has plenty of speed and goes alright but she can blow it at the start. I’ll know how she’s going to do in the first 20m. If she jumps with them she’ll be competitive. Even in one of her wins she missed the start by two lengths then had enough speed to still win impressively.

“She doesn’t play up in the gates. She’s too quiet and can sometimes stand there and watch them go. We’ve taken the blinkers off and given her plenty of jump outs and she’s been fine so I think she’ll be right. It would be worse if she played up in the gates.”

Pearl Roan will come out of barrier eight so even if she does miss the kick a little she shouldn’t have to navigate through a bunch of horses in the straight.

“Her work has been as good as gold and has done enough to run the 1000m,” Hodge said.

“She could sit off them and the track might be a bit chopped up on the inside so it might be a blessing being out a bit.”

Jockey Greg Ryan has a solid book of rides at Muswellbrook. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

MUSWELLBROOK

MATT JONES’ INSIDE MAIL

RACE 1

Investor finds his easiest career race to date after not being disgraced at the provincials and has run behind the handy genuine Saturday metropolitan horses Pyrmont and Shaik so far. It’s his time to win. Superel also finds an easier race also and she should take natural improvement out of her debut fourth placing and has the speed to lead this. Spo Dee was solid through the line on debut but didn’t go around a horse. Adios Steve has been very honest in his two runs this time in and gets all the favours with a leading hoop on board. Badboy McCoy comes off a career best run and needs to keep improving to win.

BET: INVESTOR to win.

RACE 2

Chloebella Rose drops back to country racing after a series of improving runs at the provincials. Perhaps he’ll be ridden off the speed this time so he runs out the trip. Avalene should run out the trip and has had a new stable change which tends to give them a lift. Thieve is only having start three and he can be on the speed from a good gate and is fit enough now to run this out. Casirina might challenge for the lead in what’s a very weak race which could throw up a surprise. Ayliffe is the other main hope.

BET: CHLOEBELLA ROSE to win.

RACE 3

Golden Missile needs a touch of luck from a wide draw but she’s putting together a good record and has been close to winning twice in her first three runs. A wet track won’t bother her either. Dawn Strike went well enough on debut to suggest he’ll be in this with natural improvement from start one to two. Chasing Comets has the last crack at them while Respectful runs for new trainer Jason Deamer who kept her pretty quiet in her only trial for him after coming up from the Waterhouse/Bott yard.

BET: GOLDEN MISSILE to win.

RACE 4

Snitzagirl is untested on a heavy track but has two wins on the soft and is the hardest to beat if she brings her best and she’ll be in the firing line at the business end of the race. Pearl Roan has a problem at the start but if she gets away cleanly she can give them a big scare even though she’ll improve off the run. She ran third in a trial but a multiple Group 1 winner was in it. Nitride is back in his right grade and goes well fresh. Eleazar has the right form for this after chasing home Kiss My Swiss last start and Upper East Side the run before that. Upper East Side won at the provincials during the week.

BET: ELEAZAR each way.

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RACE 5

The Outcast carries 6.5kg more than most of the field but that shouldn’t stop his chances of beating them. He’s been going great without winning of late against a few really in-form horses including one that took out a Highway race last week in great fashion. Dashing ‘N’ Daring will enjoy the soft track and all he has to do is reproduce his win two starts ago and he’s right in this. Fiery Zone likes to get back and charge home while Za Za Zena has to get away quickly from a wide draw to cross them and lead.

BET: THE OUTCAST to win.

RACE 6

Manhattan Mist brings city form to this and he will have no excuses now third-up from a good gate. Cosmic Reign is the track specialist while Sedition will enjoy extra ground and is a very good winning chance if he brings his best. Trophies Galore has done everything but win of late but will need things to go his way from a wide gate. He can still come home late in an open race. He faced Drachenfels last start who was going better on the line. A lot of punters will shake their heads if Drachenfels wins and they’re not on him.

BET: SEDITION each way.

RACE 7

With Last chance Dance set to be scratched Toto should start a well-supported favourite even from a wide gate. He’s a horse with his best in front of him and he’ll sit off the speed and come home hard. Emilette showed more than enough at her first preparation and we’ll have to take her on trust after no public trials this time in. Lilly Pilly has a form stable behind her and comes off a win but will need to improve to go to the next level. It wouldn’t shock to see Sylvia’s Memory lead and win.

BET: Quinella 2, 8.

GUNDAGAI

Shayne O’Cass

ADMIRE DUE CHANGE OF LUCK

When it comes to Admire Gratzi, it’s a two-way street.

The Gundagai-bound backmarker is named in honour of his trainer Gratz Vella who knows his grey gelding is a better horse than one who has lost 42 of his 45 starts.

If only he didn’t give away such huge headstarts, his C.V could be so much more.

“To me, I reckon he has been one of the unluckiest horses out,’’ Vella said. “Last time in, those three seconds at Goulburn, he was racing well above his benchmark and he competed so well and with a bit of luck he should have nearly won two of them.

“He is a beautiful big grey horse … lovely.’’

Given that Admire Gratzi turned seven on Saturday it’s too late to change his pattern and whether the shape of Gundagai will suit him is Vella’s main area of concern. That said, the extra 200m in Sunday’s 1800m Tooheys Extra Dry Handicap should logically boost his prospects.

“(The track) is the only problem but I took him to Leeton on Monday and he ran third and it’s a similar sort of track and he handled that all right,’’ Vella said.

“I tried him earlier in his career over a bit of distance and he didn’t respond but I think this time in, he has showed me even his trackwork and everything that he is responding to a bit more ground.’’

Trainer Gratz Vella is hoping Admire Gratzi’s luck improves at Gundagai. Picture: Jenny EvansSource:News Corp Australia

As Vella said, Admire Gratzi is a grey – a colour which he ultimately derives from his ‘close’ relation Spectacular Bid whose who won 26 of his 30 races, his last win was a ‘walkover’ in the Grade One Travers Stakes where he was the only horse in the race.

Stablemate Motime meanwhile is lining up for his 50th start on Sunday but has never raced better, Vella said.

“It took him three or four races for him to get into form but now, his last four starts have been super. He is another horse that last time in, he was so damn unlucky.

“Every time we thought we got him right, he got a bad barrier and he was trapped wide all the way but he was always there at finish, just not getting any prizemoney.’’

That won’t be the case on ­Sunday when the son of USA sensation Uncle Mo lines-up in the XXXX Gold Benchmark 58 ­Handicap over 1180m form barrier four with a rider who clicks with the gelding.

“Simon Miller knows the horse now, he’s got the key to him, he’s produced two wins for him,’’ Vella said.

Unlike Admire Gratzi, Gundagai is purpose built for Motime who will be nowhere but on speed, if not leading from barrier 4. The gelding led throughout to win at home in Canberra last month before a brave second at Cowra – again with Miller in the saddle.

Motime is a well bred type, his dam My Thousand is a three-quarter-sister to In Her Tim whose wins include the Group 1 Galaxy and VRC Lightning Stakes up the Flemington straight.

Originally published asMuswellbrook, Gundagai tips: Right as Reign on home turf

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