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Raceday focus: Best bets, Inside mail for Muswellbrook


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THE moment of truth has come for Al Cubana and Big Ben The Clock when they clash in the Tab.com.au Hunter Rival Stayers Cup (2300m) at Muswellbrook on Monday.

Al Cubana has raced primarily as a sprinter but trainer Brett Cavanough is trying to transform the gelding into a stayer.

Big Ben The Clock, trained by Rod Northam, has shown some staying potential but is trying to get his career back on track after a wind operation.

Al Cubana, a rising six-year-old, has won two of his 24 starts, with five seconds and three thirds, but it has only been this preparation that Cavanough has extended him out in distance.

“We probably gave him every opportunity to sprint but he kept running second,’’ Cavanough said.

“But if he gets a trip, the further they go the weaker they are.

“If he doesn’t get the trip we are in trouble as we have tried everything else.’’

******

BEST BETS WITH BRAD DAVIDSON

BEST PLAY: QUINELLA RACE 5: 4,6.


Fame and Fortune obviously has plenty of talent and won with a leg in the air on debut but I want to make a case for Happy Mo as well. He won his only start and that’s proven to be a good form race. His recent trial was solid and he has drawn well. Looks a good race to play the quinella.

HARD TO BEAT: NOTTING HILL (Race 7, No. 5)

No flash odds but Notting Hill should be in the finish of Race 7. The well bred filly was good first-up at Newcastle and only has to reproduce that run to be hard to beat.

SHOULD GO CLOSE: TEN CARAT (Race 3, No. 7)

Ten Carat has been in the placings at all three runs back and he looks ready to breakthrough. Aaron Bullock takes the ride from the good draw and he should go close.

BEST EXOTIC: QUADDIE: 1st leg: 6,4. 2nd leg: 1,3,7,5,4,2. 3rd leg: 5,3. 4th leg: 2,6,9,3,5.

TRAINER TO FOLLOW: KRIS LEES

Has several strong chances across the program, including Notting Hill in race 7.

JOCKEY TO FOLLOW: CHAD LEVER

Only has three rides but they will all be in the market and should be somewhere in the finish.

******

Cavanough took some encouragement from Al Cubana’s first stamina test at Tamworth last start when he ran second to Bob’s A Dazzler over 2100m.

“I feel he is well placed (Monday) in a small field with an in-form jockey,’’ Cavanough said.

Big Ben The Clock showed staying ability last winter, winning three races from 1600m up to 2200m. But he hasn’t been able to recapture that form this campaign, finishing down the track in each of his three starts.

“The jury is out,’’ Northam said “He has been a little disappointing but he needs to improve.

“He had a wind operation so we are hoping he can come back from that.

“His work has been good so we are going to Muswellbrook not overly confident but hoping he can run a good race.

“He is fit now and up to his right distance, so there are no excuses.’’

The Stayers Cup has attracted a competitive field of 11.

Eerised is race topweight with 61kg, a handicap offset by apprentice Robbie Dolan’s 2kg claim. Big Ben The Clock has 60kg, while Al Cubana is next on 59.5kg.

Al Cubana is Cavanough’s only starter on Monday but Northam also has Lope De Mango in the Class 1 Handicap (1000m), Seishin contests the Fillies and Mares Maiden (1280m) and Philadora is in the 3YO Maiden Plate (1000m).

“Lope De Mango has drawn well, I’ve kept her nice and fresh, and this is a winnable race,’’ Northam said.

“Seishin’s last-start run at Dubbo was pretty good. She is definitely much better this preparation but I feel she might need 1600m.

“Philadora was trapped off the track last start but I’ve put the blinkers on, she has a soft gate and is ‘mad’ fresh, so I’m expecting a much-improved performance.’’

INSIDE MAIL WITH BRAD DAVIDSON

RACE 1


4. Litt Up was good first-up at this track when just missing behind Boca Grande. He only had the one trial coming in and should take plenty of benefit from that. I liked the way 1. Assault’n’Bathory closed off in a recent Tamworth trial and the debutant has had four trials overall, so should be well educated. 6. Eagleworks has had a few chances but he is never far away. He has been placed in five of 11 starts. 10. Uncle Sam next best.

BETTING STRATEGY: LITT UP TO WIN.

RACE 2


The Kim Waugh stable is in great form and there’s no reason it can’t keep it going here with 4. Little Effort. She has trialled nicely leading in and looks to have ability. 6. Stellara was a late drifter first-up at Muswellbrook but ran well behind Boca Grande and Litt Up. We should get a guide on this race by how Litt Up goes in the first. 1. Julie Magic was well beaten at Quirindi last start but did start at $3.70 so must be respected, while 9. Glistening Light gets the blinkers on for the first time and could improve.

BETTING STRATEGY: LITTLE EFFORT TO WIN.

RACE 3


7. Ten Carat has been in the placings at all three runs back and looks ready to break through. Aaron Bullock takes the ride from the good draw and he should go close. 6. Temple Run has had two aggressive trials to get ready for this. He did beat subsequent debut Sydney winner Copy Boy in the first one but was ridden out in both. 10. Absolutely Perfect can improve off her distant third at Gosford first-up.

BETTING STRATEGY: TEN CARAT TO WIN.

RACE 4


I think 2. Crossing Guard can run a race here. His two runs back have been solid over unsuitable trips and he gets out to 1500m, a distance at which he has won four times. Four of his five wins have also come at this track. 3. Home Ground won his maiden well last start and can take this jump. He is a two-year-old taking on older horses but it is getting towards the end of the season. 5. Villarrica brings solid Victorian form lines and looks next best.

BETTING STRATEGY: CROSSING GUARD EACH-WAY.

RACE 5


Good race. I’m happy to be with 6. Happy Mo just from a price perspective. He won on debut and the second and third horses have won since. I thought his recent trial was good enough. 4. Fame And Fortune was impressive at Dubbo, where she won in a canter. She was never really let go but won easily. Has a heap of upside. 1. Bon Allen is next best but this looks a race in two.

BETTING STRATEGY: GOOD QUINELLA 4, 6.

RACE 6

1. Eerised has been well held his past two but has always shown a bit of ability. His run behind Roman Son at Rosehill four back was encouraging and he is an each-way chance in a tricky race. 3. Al Cubana is knocking on the door but struggling to win and he goes to 2300m for the first time. 7. Pressing Matters should get the trip, it’s whether he is good enough, while 5. The Bohemian has won over this distance before but goes 1700m to 2300m here.

BETTING STRATEGY: BOXED TRIFECTA 1, 3, 5, 7.

RACE 7
Looks a nice race for the well-bred 5. Notting Hill. She just found one better first-up at Newcastle but this looks well within her reach from the good draw. 3. Not For Export can be hard to catch but he is very capable on his day. He ran third in last year’s Country Championships final. 2. Little Steiny and 7. Typhoon Charlie for the multiples. The latter bolted in at Nowra first-up but the time was only fair.

BETTING STRATEGY: NOTTING HILL TO WIN.

RACE 8
It’s not easy to go from a maiden to a benchmark 55 but 2. Boca Grande has plenty of upside. He has only had the two starts and should take natural improvement from his first-up win at this track. 6. Texas Tycoon trialled up really well before the start of this prep and worked to the line well second-up at this track after a fair fresh run. 9. Vihari and 3. Ready Set Sing are next best.

BETTING STRATEGY: BOCA GRANDE TO WIN.

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