Race 1 - 12:20PM ORAN PARK HIGHWAY (1400 METRES)
2. Burrandana has form around all the right horses. It's amazing that he is yet to win a Highway Handicap given his talent. It's unfair to tag him as a backmarker, with his settling position dictated to by a run of wide draws. When he has come up with an inside draw he has been able to take advantage of it. He resumed over 1400m in Highway company last campaign, flashing home late from out the back. He then ran a string of seconds behind Chase My Crown, Eaglemont and Holstein.
All horses that have gone right on with it since. Two preparations ago he was chasing home the likes of Bianco Vilano and I've Been Tryin'. The five-year-old trucked to the line to win a recent barrier trial with Mathew Cahill in the saddle and he comes to town for just the one ride.
Dangers: 1. Veandechance came with a rush to win at Doomben first up in a fillies and mares Class 1. The third horse has since won. Matt Dunn and Nash Rawiller combine again in Highway company. She has always been a talented mare, breaking her maiden in city company as a two-year-old. 5. Sharp Shock maps to be giving away a head start to a couple of his main rivals but the drop back from the mile to 1400m shouldn't be an issue. He missed by a bob of the heads at Newcastle, overcoming a slow tempo. The effort had a lot of merit. 9. Extra Smart was well beaten at Newcastle last start but became unbalanced in the straight which cost her finishing a touch closer. That was in BM78 company. Better placed in this grade. 3. Unrelenting and 4. Mosgold are racing well.
How to play it: Burrandana to win
Race 2 - 12:55PM BOB INGHAM AO HANDICAP (1400 METRES)
1. Step Aside was brilliant winning first up. The margin was only narrow but the win was even better on the clock than it was to the eye. The four-year-old, trained by Chris Waller, clocked the fastest closing splits of the meeting, with a particularly strong last 200m. The runner up Cloudland has since won to frank the form. This sets up perfectly now second up out to 1400m with three and a half weeks between runs. The speed should be on throughout and Step Aside will be able to tag stablemate 5. Afterlight form the outset. Nash Rawiller takes the ride too. The four-year-old has improved all the way through his career and the manner of his fresh win suggests there is still more to come. Follow him through the grades.
Dangers: 4. Diamond Model wasn't beaten far by Cloudland two starts back, which ties in here, before running on late behind I'mintowin. The form through that race has been franked a number of times and the mare, new to the stable of Mark Minervini, was 1250m out to 1500m. Not an easy jump to make in distance. She is back to 1400m here but has had a five week freshen since. You don't see too many Highway winners transfer the form into benchmark company but 2. Zouatica looks well above average. The free-rolling gelding took no prisoners first up at Kembla Grange. Adam Hyeronimus sticks and will adopt the same tactics. Respect how heavily backed 11. Runwiththetide was in a deeper race than this a fortnight ago.
How to play it: Step Aside to win
Race 3 - 1:30PM COOLMORE HIGHWAY (1400 METRES)
5. Rapidash is three from three and a mare still on the up. She only scrambled home first up at Newcastle after being heavily backed into $1.65 late but trainer Lyle Chandler indicated that she'd derive plenty of benefit from that run. The other point to note is that she beat Black Duke, no superstar, granted, but he has been a handy benchmark level horse for a couple of years now and had two runs under his belt. The maiden Rapidash won on debut, by four lengths at Muswellbrook, back in May produced eight subsequent winners. The 1400m second up looks a perfect progression for the daughter of Supido. The biggest obstacle looks to be the lack of speed on paper. There isn't an obvious leader in the race. Rapidash has won from outside of the speed in the past but that perhaps isn't the best way to ride her.
Dangers: 7. Associate hasn't had a public trial heading into this so it's hard to get a confident line on him but he's progressive and like how he won his maiden at Wagga last preparation. A narrow second on debut to Strait Acer at the midweeks reads well now. Nash Rawiller holds the ace of drawing barrier 1 on 2. Golden Decade in a race without much speed. He won't spend a penny early to find a handy spot on the Matt Dunn-trained three-year-old. That could prove a decisive advantage given the likely shape of this race. 4. Louie's Legacy never got into the race at Kembla Grange behind Zouatica two starts ago from well back before bouncing back with a narrow second at Mudgee. Can settle closer here.
How to play it: Rapidash to win
Race 4 - 2:05PM THE SACCO GROUP MIDWAY (1200 METRES)
8. Terra Mater played the bridesmaid role for much of her early career but winning has become a habit for this four-year-old mare now. She has won three of her past five as she crashes through the grades. Her first up win was her best yet. She's returned a better mare again. That was at Canterbury where she settled outside of the leader and was always in control. The margin of 1.7 lengths flattered her rivals as Nash Rawiller shut her down late. Unsurprisingly, Nash sticks on Saturday. Not only is Terra Mater a very genuine galloper, she has tactical speed. The draw gives Nash plenty of options. This Midway is no gimme but she is a deserved favourite on the strength of her fresh win and what there could still be to come.
Dangers: 5. Poseidon Ruler isn't the easiest horse to catch but he possesses a devastating finish when everything falls into place. He had no luck first up at Newcastle in a race that produced three subsequent winners before being beaten two lengths five weeks later in a race that turned into a sprint home. He was never a factor. 4. Diamond Diesel fits a similar mould. The barrier doesn't help his chances but he did show some tactical speed himself at the backend of last campaign. He has been an ever present in Midway company for a while now. There's nothing flashy about 3. Uzziah but he races well fresh and won a Midway before spelling. 1. Chief Conductor just has to get the start right and stretch his speed to 1200m.
How to play it: Terra Mater to win
Race 5 - 2:40PM INGLIS NURSERY (1000 METRES)
2. Blue Stratum went sent down the Flemington straight on debut and just missed to his stablemate, who had the benefit of race experience. The Blue Point colt will no doubt take plenty from the outing. The concern for the stable prior what that he never had a look at the straight prior. He was confidently backed in early betting too. The middle draw sets up well for him on Saturday. Tony and Calvin McEvoy are developing a knack of sending the right two-year-olds to Sydney. Last year they won this race with Xtravagant Star and just a couple of weeks ago ran second in the Golden Gift with Rue De Royale. Both times with Chad Schofield in the saddle. He has become the stable's go-to jockey. Not surprised Blue Stratum is now the race favourite.
Dangers: 10. Jupiter Hills is on debut for Waterhouse and Bott. The stable is flying with their youngsters and this filly looks yet another talented two-year-old. Love the improvement she showed from her first trial into her second. Will be ridden with intent and looks the likely leader with Tim Clark in the saddle. 6. Deep Joy came with a rush to win at Newcastle on debut over 900m. Trusting form over that track and trip is dangerous but there was a lot to like about the way she flattened out to attack the line late, in driving rain too. Challenging conditions for a filly on debut. There was little between Blue Stratum and 3. Odinson at Flemington but draws widest. It's an ugly gate. 7. Desirous has knockout claims after trialling well.
How to play it: Blue Stratum to win
Race 6 - 3:20PM THE MAX BRENNER SANTA CUP (2000 METRES)
9. I'mintowin was beaten as a short-priced favourite second up but it was only by a narrow margin and he brought about his own undoing. Want to give him the chance to bounce back now third up. The former New Zealand-trained galloper raced a touch keen in the middle stages. That perhaps proved the difference at the end. He gave a kick in the straight but was collared on the line. A sucker punch from a horse camped on his back. The four-year-old was also jumping from 1500m to 1850m. There is also some argument to be made that he went too slow in front and wasn't allowed to use his biggest weapon, his speed. We saw that from him at his first run in Australia, pulling his rivals out of their comfort zone. That win pegged him as a horse that'll zip through the grades. Maps to get control again with Tim Clark jumping on.
Dangers: 5. Foxy Cleopatra is an emergency for the Ingham but this is a handy Plan B. Might be getting out to 2000m one run sooner than Trent Bussuttin and Natalie Young had planned but she coped with a near identical distance progression in her first campaign when on an Oaks path. She's been great in two runs back, narrowly missing on both occasions. 1. Superium snuck up the fence to be beaten a length in last Saturday's Festival Stakes. Won out to 2000m in October so the trip holds no fears and he'll get a dry track. 8. Toesonthenose steps into Listed company but he deserves a shot given the dominance of his two recent wins. 2. Wicklow has his convictions but he wants every bit of the 2000m now fourth up.
How To Play It: I'mintowin WIN
Race 7 - 4:00PM THE INGHAM (1600 METRES)
6. Osipenko might be starting to test the patience of punters but at the odds, want to give him another chance to show his best. He jumped an easing $4 chance in The Gong two weeks ago. The wet track didn't help given he was seven weeks between runs. He still ran well but couldn't get close to 2. Detonator Jack. Osipenko gets a 3kg weight swing and can only improve. His form prior to that was in some of the best WFA Group One contests in the country. The barrier looks frightful on paper but features over the Randwick mile have proven time and time again that wide gates aren't a huge disadvantage. If Tim Clark can find cover in a three wide running line that'd be ideal. Would rather that scenario than being cluttered up three back on the fence. Enough talking. Time to stand up Osipenko.
Dangers: Detonator Jack may have been flattered by the set up in The Gong coming back from 1800m to the mile, on a wet track and with the blinkers on for the first time, but he ran out a dominant winner. 19. Lion's Roar hasn't had much go his way this time back. Wide gates have cruelled his chances. He's caught the eye late at his past two starts. Stays at the mile for the third run in a row but is four weeks between runs and has trialled well since. Loses Jason Collett who sticks with Detonator Jack. Prefer 10. Attractable drawn wider so he isn't dictated to by horses to his outside but his win in the Big Dance over this track and trip shouldn't be underestimated. 1. Cepheus continues to race well while this has been the grand final for 8. Rustic Steel all along.
How to play it: Osipenko to win
Race 8 - 4:40PM RACING AND SPORTS RAZOR SHARP HANDICAP (1200 METRES)
3. Insurrection is yet to win beyond 1100m. That's the question the speedster will need to answer on Saturday at Randwick. The Michael Freedman-trained four-year-old has won four of his past five, one of those coming in the Warra two weeks ago. That was over 1000m and once he found the front, and his rhythm, it was game over for anything behind him. He was simply too fast. Dragonstone ran fourth there and has since franked the form. Zac Lloyd has a great association with Insurrection and that familiarity could prove significant given not only the 1200m query but also having to navigate the likes of 1. Frosty Rocks and 5. Recommendation drawn underneath him. Getting the first half of the race right will prove more telling than the second half in this instance.
Dangers: 6. Waihaha Falls profiles well. He is just hard to definitively trust. Has improved second up in the past and ran second in this race 12 months ago. The market suggested that he needed the run first up. He settled out the back and worked home well enough with 62kg on his back. Loves Randwick. Would have been more confident with rain around. Recommendation was no match for Insurrection a fortnight ago but out to 1200m gives him the chance to turn the tables. He has a great record over this trip. Draws barrier 1. Expect an aggressive early ride. 10. With Your Blessing reacted well to the blinkers third up and he relished playing front runner. This is a very different set up back onto a dry track too. 2. Rocketing By just needs to reproduce his Hunter run.
How to play it: Insurrection to win
Race 9 - 5:20PM JACK INGHAM AO HANDICAP (1600 METRES)
2. Zoe's Promise has tactical speed. Not many, if any, of her main dangers can say the same thing. This is an evenly match field but looking at the likely map, those that settle in the second half could be set an impossible task. There doesn't look to be a lot of pressure. Zoe's Promise has had two runs for Kris Lees now and looks to be building towards another win. Here she is third up out to the mile having run second to Lekvarte three weeks ago, with that mare since winning again. Nash Rawiller jumps back on now having ridden her first up. Expect early intent from the wide gate. Her strike rate of two wins from 17 starts doesn't inspire confidence but she looks the best suited horse in the race.
Dangers: 1. Promitto produced his best run of the preparation last start at Newcastle when second to Tavi Time. He was well beaten but he held off third comfortably enough and first and third from that race have both run well since. Ran third in the Craven Plate this time last year. 5. Aristonous may very well prove to be the best horse in the race. Love what he did in his first two runs in Australia. Has trialled well. Just maps to get a long way back. 3. Peace Officer has been up for a long time but his third at Canberra reads well for this. Gives the impression that the mile will be fine. Would be wary if any support comes for 4. Ita. Another win looks close for 7. Deficit.
How to play it: Zoe's Promise to win
Race 10 - 5:55PM ALOHA STRAWBERRY HILL STUD HANDICAP (1100 METRES)
1. Lady Laguna has mainly raced in Listed and Group company throughout her career. The four-year-old looks well placed here first up given the depth of her form. Last preparation she ran placings to Parisal, magic Time and Aft Cabin in three consecutive starts. That was before she held that good form in Queensland. Some rain around would have sealed the deal but she's performed well on good tracks in the past. Well enough to measure up in this. She has trialled up well twice ahead of her return, races well at the track and has shown up fresh in the past. Should be able to jump straight on the back of the speed too, tracking 7. Way To The Stars into the straight.
Dangers: 7. Way To The Stars has won two from three this time back with his last start Rosehill win a showing of sustained speed. Freshened since then. Just has to transfer that form to Randwick now. 2. Brudenell was only fair first up in the Warra when in the market but inclined to give him the chance to bounce back. Back in grade and out to 1100m second up sets up well. He maps to get the right run too. 11. Iowna Merc looked disappointing on face value when beaten at Randwick first up but that's underselling how well Quick Tempo is racing. Has trialled brilliantly since. The barrier is the biggest issue. 6. Dehorned Unicorn can show more out 1100m third up.
How to play it: Lady Laguna to win