Raceday focus: Best bets for Taree, Albury
FRESH from guiding Le Romain to third place in last Saturday's Doomben 10,000, trainer Kris Lees will trek further south to Taree looking to keep his winning strike rate ticking over.
While Lees' focus is on the Taree meeting on Monday, he said he would take some time out to answer the call from any of the remaining Everest slot holders wanting to grant stable gun Le Romain a berth in the $13 million Randwick race in the spring.
The son of Hard Spun went within a neck of posting his third Group 1 win behind English in the Doomben 10,000, three weeks after he almost knocked off confirmed Everest starter Trapeze Artist.
BRAD DAVIDSON'S TAREE BEST BETS
BEST VALUE: LOBBAN HOOD (Race 1, No.8)
She was caught late last start by Ruby Two Shoes but they gapped the rest and the time was clearly the quickest of three 1007m races on the day. She should either lead or settle in the first two and give a big kick. The $7 is appealing.
BEST ROUGHIE: LET HEAVEN WAIT (Race 5, No.2)
Yes, he was beaten 10 lengths on debut but the run was a lot better than it looked. He just got run off his feet early and he made solid ground when he balanced up in the straight. He is a half to I Am Serious and all of his siblings have won over at least 1500m. Being by High Chaparral, he should love the rise from 1000m to 1400m here and he trialled nicely prior to his debut.
BEST EXOTIC: Quaddie: 1st leg: 3-12-15-2-4. 2nd leg: 2-4-10. 3rd leg: 5-6-11-2. 4th leg: 4-2-11.
TRAINER TO FOLLOW
Kris Lees has seven strong chances across the Taree card and could easily leave with multiple winners.
SCROLL DOWN FOR BRAD'S INSIDE MAIL
"He doesn't get a mention,'' Lees said. "He is a horse that I doubt anyone would want to lock him in early but he is a horse that could show up in any race if he was set for it and you've seen what he can so at 1200m.''
Lees saddled up Clearly Innocent in the inaugural Everest for Cressfield, and will team with them again at Taree with a horse he nominated as his best chance on the card.
Winter Sonata, a lightly-raced daughter of Your Song has had two starts, the latest a distant fourth behind her hugely exciting stablemate, Brabinger - the brother of Cox Plate winner Shamus Award.
Winter Sonata lines up in the Saxbys Soft Drink Maiden Plate over 1250m from barrier six with Aaron Bullock riding.
"Her runs have been quite acceptable,'' Lees said. "This is a drop in grade back to country class, she's probably the one to beat.''
Lees and Bullock combine in the last race with Heat Haze, a filly that is sure to feature prominently in Quaddies and other exotics given the strength of her form notably her win at Newcastle to wind up her last campaign.
Heat Haze sent out the right signals with her closing 3 3/4-lengths fourth in a deep race at Tamworth over 1200m on April 29.
"She will put herself on speed and up to 1400m suits her. She will win a midweeker at the right time,'' Lees said.
The Melbourne Cup winning colours of Australian Bloodstock ought to be flying high on a couple of occasions at Taree today via Cordoned in the opener and Rock Tsar just after the half way in proceedings.
Cordoned, an ex Godolphin galloper, has thrived since joining the Lees yard with two wins - one at Canterbury - from only six outings for the new regime.
Cordoned's superior form is reflected in the fact that his benchmark rating (68) is five points above his nearest rival.
"He'd be hard to beat. He's a city winner and any moisture around won't hurt him. The horse is in good order,'' Lees said.
Rock Tsar tackles the Eddies Fresh Chickens Maiden Plate (1400m) fourth up off a career best run at his most recent outing.
"He's not far off a win. He has been racing consistently at his last couple so he gets his chance,'' said Lees.
INSIDE MAIL WITH BRAD DAVIDSON
I can make a case for Lobban Hood here especially if the track is at least soft. She was caught late by Ruby Two Shoes last start but they gapped the rest and more importantly ran time. It was clearly the quickest of three 1007m races on the day including a benchmark 65. She should either lead or settle in the top two and you just have to hold your breath the last 200m. Cordoned is probably the best horse in the race but I'm just hoping he has to get back over 1000m. He will be hard to hold out but I'm happy to back Lobban Hood at the odds. Rastafarian, Princess Lottie and Mosrai next best.
BETTING STRATEGY: LOBBAN HOOD each-way (can save on Cordoned).
Tough race. La Pont gets a good run from the inside and being by Myboycharlie he might be looking for the 1250m. Salty Rain is only coming off a Coffs Harbour maiden win but he was dominant there and also has claims. Nais Kos was just fair first-up but she did start favourite there and she has always started somewhere in the market. Neretva is a better horse than he showed first-up and this is a fair bit easier. Mister McIlroy is coming off a Nowra maiden win when wide throughout and he has been wide at both runs this time in. See Me Out was disappointing first-up over the 1000m but she got back and then was pushed wide on the turn. The extra trip should suit.
BETTING STRATEGY : Tough race this. I could entertain Neretva to place.
I thought Dancing Phryne did enough first-up at Gosford and the form out of the race has been good with the winner winning again since and the seventh placegetter winning a maiden since. She should settle a bit closer here and has run out this trip before. Little Effort has trialled up solidly and the stable is on fire of late. Betting should give us a good guide to her chances. Dominica was also good in that Dancing Phryne race and some of her siblings got a trip so the extra distance could suit. Pullman Brown put in a good effort on debut but has to take on the older horses here.
BETTING STRATEGY: DANCING PHRYNE each-way.
Brooke is probably the safe way to go and she will be up on speed and should give a kick. I wouldn't be taking too short odds though at the same time. I can make a case for Fine Behind and Spirited Belle. Both horses weren't far away last start and just need a bit of luck from their wide draws early. The form out of Fine Behind's last two starts hasn't been great but on ratings she is right there. Better Not Fly was wide on debut but has trialled well with the blinkers on since. He can improve sharply here.
BETTING STRATEGY: Boxed trifecta-3-12-15-2.
I want to make a strong each-way case for Let Heaven Wait here. Yes, he was beaten 10 lengths on debut but the run was a lot better than it looked. He just got run off his feet early and he made solid ground when he balanced up in the straight. He is a half to I Am Serious and all of his siblings have won over at least 1500m. Being by High Chaparral, he will love the rise from 1000m to 1400m here and he trialled nicely prior to his debut. Rock Tsar and Whitsunday both have genuine winning claims but the race they come out of last start recorded a pretty slow last 600m. Conquering Kate next best.
BETTING STRATEGY: Let Heaven Wait each-way one of the gambles of the day at $18 and $4.80.
Tough race. I thought Haames did enough last start and he should get a good run off the speed and be strong late. Salad Dodger hit the line well enough to suggest the mile is what he is looking for now. Naturally, he has never been to a mile so he still has to prove that. Take The Mountain gets the blinkers off and he was good when rising sharply in trip last start. He should settle that bit better here. Natural Predator is always capable as well. Immune also has claims but might be one run short?
BETTING STRATEGY: Haames to win.
Sleepwalker's two runs back have both been full of merit and he has each-way claims here. Blinkin Artie has a great record at this track and his last two runs have been solid enough for this. Heat Haze started favourite first-up and while she was a bit disappointing she could be worth another chance. Chalcedony did beat home Blinkin Artie two starts back and must be respected as well.
BETTING STRATEGY: Sleepwalker to win.
HEYWOOD URGES PUNTERS TO KEEP FAITH WITH MEDUSA
By Shayne O'Cass
TRAINER Chris Heywood says punters will be rewarded for forgetting Red Medusa's hard-luck tale at her last start when the filly heads to Albury.
The daughter of Snippetson was expected to figure in the finish at home at Wagga on the town's cup day card but ended up near the tail of the field despite leading until the final 300m.
"It was a forget run," Heywood said. "She drew a wide gate, went forward, and just had to use too much petrol to get there.
"She's a nice horse, she has got a bit of ability. She's got a nice gate and in-form jockey (Matthew Cahill).''
Heywood didn't have much luck on Wagga Cup Day. Not only was Red Medusa out of favour, but stablemate Wolfofpeterstreet had the cards stacked against him in a Class 1 assignment.
"Same thing, another forget run,'' the trainer said. "She drew 14 of 16 and was four and five deep the trip. She probably did a good job to finish where she did.
"The form around Wolfofpeterstreet is quite good. She is a Nothin' Leica Dane mare who I think will get up over 1400m later on but at this stage I am going to keep her fresh and keep her to the sprint trips.''
Heywood saddles-up topweight All Kitted Out in the Striker Fire Electrical Solutions Maiden Plate over 1600m with son, Nick, in the saddle.
The horse is yet to place in his six appearances but has been eating up the ground late in his past couple over 1180m and 1300m respectively.
"He gives the impression he'll run 2000m. I know he went out as favourite last start but he stumbled out of the gates and was back second to last. He picked himself up and finding the line big time at the end of it,'' Heywood said.
"He has drawn wide (today) but it's not a bad thing because he we'll probably go back with him anyway.''
One other potential Albury winner from the Heywood camp is Monsoon Charlie who will appreciate the additional metres in the 1600m DGL Glazing Handicap.
"I wasn't disappointed with her run the other day. It was his first-up run and he needed it. He is a winner at the track and even though we won't see the best of him until he gets up over 2000m, he is definitely a chance.''