BEST BET: EXALTED TRAVELLER (Race 8)
EACH-WAY: GOGOLF GURU (Race 2)
VALUE: HIEMAL (Race 6)
RACE 1 - 12:56PM FibreTrack / SABOIS Maiden Plate (1800 METRES)
NATIVE BLUE ran well here behind Shadow Boom at big odds before a solid effort at Bordertown behind Black Cheval last time. The jump from 1550m to 1800m looks idea. SMILING ASSASSIN was good behind Battle Blitz over this trip at Morphettville last time that’s a good pointer for a race like this. REGAL TRIUMPH ran better behind Capricorn Ridge last time, coming off the pace, but drops back in trip here. GO BOO BOO should appreciate getting out to 1800m and has been OK her past three starts. ROUGH BEAUTY ran well this track and trip four runs back, in August behind Melody Man. CUZZEN ran better second-up for Ron Stokes, running third behind Battle Blitz last time at Morphettville.
SELECTIONS: NATIVE BLUE, Smiling Assassin, Go Boo Boo
RACE 2 - 1:31PM TAB / SABOIS Maiden Plate (1000 METRES)
GOGOLF GURU ran well behind the talented Chosen Blonder when second at Morphettville back in August and then stepped up against Celestine when outclassed. That’s very good form for a maiden like this. SILVER ON RED was a touch disappointing at Morphettville after racing on speed but getting tired late. He trialled very well at the beginning of last campaign and is worth another try. SQUISHIE had specking on debut back in September and has trialled well for this. STRIKE THE NIGHT had one start in Victoria before coming to SA and was specked in betting behind Zesty Belle. THREE TEARS was runner-up behind Kirinia on debut and ran OK after leading them up at Ararat last time. Of the John Hickmott debutants CENTRE CIRCLE has shown early speed in two jump-outs at Murray Bridge in early December and the latest at Strathalbyn on December 17. Likewise stablemate WILD OPTION has been at the same jump-outs and showed speed before tiring at Murray Bridge, then being pulled-up out of his Strathalbyn hit-out. VICARIUM debuts for Ashton Downing and wasn’t asked to do a lot in a Morphettville jump-out back in early November.
SELECTIONS: GOGOLF GURU, Silver On Red, Three Tears
RACE 3 - 2:06PM Carlton Draught / SABOIS Maiden Plate (1200 METRES)
BOLT BY ran really well against some nice types on debut back in June, running third behind The Brumby at Murray Bridge. EFFORTKAT was runner-up behind Autumn Splendor at Morphettville back in August and her three runs this prep have been good. She was placed here behind Zegresto and was good again behind Honey Go Lightly at Morphettville last time. LA RAPIDE ran well behind Alotafun two back and didn’t have a lot of racing room when she needed in the home straight in the race won by Honey Go Lightly at Morphettville. UNDERSTATEMENT is a former New South Wales galloper in the astute Stuart Gower stable. He was runner-up in a Randwick maiden two starts back and should measure up very well in a race like this. EVER ONWARD stuck to his task well on debut behind a handy one in Siberian Route at Strathalbyn. MUG’S GAME improved back in class when runner-up behind Blue Lake Lady at Naracoorte, while SUPER LOOKA ran OK behind Outlaws Revenge last time out. Of the unraced brigade MALUKA GOLD has had three jump-outs and showed a lot of improvement at his third go, winning at Strath when ridden out on December 17. Stablemate BALLROOM DANCER also debuts and looked good winning a Strath jump-out on the same day and would be the pick of the Dion Koch pair.
SELECTIONS: BOLT BY, La Rapide, Effortkat
RACE 4 - 2:41PM Rocco Cappelleri Benchmark 54 Handicap (1600 METRES)
Open race and happy to stay away. KEYSOR was a Gawler winner four starts back and his past three starts have been OK. Getting back out to a mile appeals and he was placed at his only start here back in October. CHONCAPE wasn’t beaten far by Jack’s A Cracker at Strathalbyn two runs back and then closed late behind Minnamosa there last time. He has been placed here and stays at the mile. MANOR KING should be handy to the speed from the inside gate and was placed behind Picargo at Morphettville going back to early November. I’M BULLETPROOF has been runner-up at two of his past three but over 200m and beyond. A LITTLE CHUNKY wasn’t beaten far at Oakbank last time out.
SELECTIONS: KEYSOR, Choncape, Manor King
RACE 5 - 3:21PM Festival Hire Benchmark 54 Handicap (1600 METRES)
MANDARRA was OK first-up at Balaklava when beaten 2.7 lengths behind Diamond Tycoon. She was only beaten 3.7 lengths in a Hill Smith Stakes last year. She stays at a mile, gets in well with the claim and can give new apprentice Ben Price a dream start to his riding career. MINNAMOSA finished off strongly behind Sylvan Crest at Gawler two starts back and followed that with a Strathalbyn win defeating Choncape in pretty good fashion. She draws a gate and should definitely be in the mix. RISING THUNDER was placed behind Tignanello four starts back and gets out to the mile which could be a bonus. ANTIPAS was a winner this track and trip three starts back and his past couple have been OK. THE IRON LADY has ran well at odds her past couple and could run a cheeky race.
SELECTIONS: MANDARRA, Minnamosa, The Iron Lady
RACE 6 - 4:01PM Freesty's 30th Birthday Benchmark 58 Handicap (900 METRES)
Good race with three young jockeys holding the key at the top of the weights. DOMINATION won’t know himself in this sort of grade with 59kg and he could quite well run them ragged over the 900m. Some of his best efforts have been when let roll up on speed and he looks a big show here on his home track. Ben Price rides former New South Wales galloper HIEMAL first-up in SA for Stuart Gower and he has a handy record. He was sent out favourite at Queanbeyan last time when beaten a touch over a length and the 4kg claim brings him right into this. Plus he’s a dual winner over 900m. XINGYUN was well tried on debut when beaten before winning second-up at Gawler. He’s first-up and can run well fresh for Angus Chung. MRS HYDE is two from two here but drawn wide. She looks pretty well suited in a race like this. NIC’S SECRET has been racing pretty well for a race like this and hasn’t missed a place in six runs here. WAR CHEVAL was on speed to win at Bordertown to win last time out but draws the carpark.
SELECTIONS: HIEMAL, Xingyun, Domination
RACE 7 - 4:41PM John Hickmott Racing Benchmark 54 Handicap (1200 METRES)
The emergencies hold the key here. On top I’m happy to tip ROSE TIARA, who was well fancied first-up for the Stokes stable on the back of a nice trial and did her best work late when the race was all over behind Exalted Queen at Morphettville. She draws the inside and has no weight on her back. COTILLION has won five of 32 and is another who won’t know herself in a race like this. She’s a winner here and will take beating. VINDEX has a good record with a win, a second and two thirds from four starts here and his form last time in work was good for a race like this. His fresh form is solid and he draws a nice gate. CIRCUS DANCER was good first-up from a spell before winning at Strathalbyn last time and he looks a horse trending in the right way for a race like this.
SELECTIONS: ROSE TIARA, Cotillion, Vindex
RACE 8 - 5:23PM Riverscape Food & Wine Benchmark 64 Handicap (1400 METRES)
The scratching of SIBERIAN ROUTE has opened this race up. EXALTED TRAVELLER is shooting for three wins on the bounce here and aided by the 2kg claim and perfect barrier. He has been placed at all four starts here and looks hard to beat. ANGASTON is racing well and was good behind Little Rich Boy before another handy run behind Call Me Shamus in town. LATEST BENTLEY is on the quick back-up from Morphettville last weekend when beaten 2.2 lengths behind Lake’s Folly, which is a good form line for this, and he was a Kyneton winner two starts back. CROWN HARMONIUM has a good record and looks perfectly placed here on her home track. She’s trialled OK and her form last campaign would take beating in a race like this. SOWPODS was a winner on the Parks track three starts back and was close-up in a handy race at Morphettville last time. Stablemate ENKI is dropping sharply in grade and aided by the claim. RAISE AN ARMY is back in trip and could improve, while RUBBLE has been pretty good recently.
SELECTIONS: EXALTED TRAVELLER, Latest Bentley, Angaston
PHOTO: Exalted Traveller winning in December.