by Joshua Reed – you can follow Joshua on twitter – @RoganJosh_9 and follow his previews for other NSW meetings at www.racingbet.com.au
Muswellbrook Race Club has a challenging nine race card as they host their first meeting in 2021. The rail is in the 3m position from the 1200m to 300m then the cutaway applies and with possible showers in the lead-up and on race day, the track will be in the Soft – Heavy range throughout the day.
Race 1 – Horsepower Maiden Handicap – 900m
These 900m races are always tough to dissect at Muswellbrook and the uncertainty with the weather makes it a touch harder, but I have landed with (13) Asherla on the back of an impressive trial recently. The Astern filly took control of the trial at Wyong and never looked like being headed in the straight, winning the trial with ease. She is drawn okay and should be able to find a decent position in the run, especially with the experience of Brenton Avdulla on her back. Providing she handles the going, she will be hard to beat.
Selections: (13) Asherla – (1) Greenheart – (8) Enamour – (4) The Night Train
Race 2 – Great Northern Super Crisp Lager Maiden Handicap – 1280m
This looks quite a weak maiden race in terms of form and lead-up trials, and I decided to go with a filly with race experience and plenty of fitness. (7) Loniesha started well last start at Taree but was stuck in some uncertainty outside the lead, as whenever Reith went to go forward for the rail, the horse on his inside accelerated to keep him out. There won’t be any uncertainty here with the outside draw, they will head forward and lead or try to get a spot forward. She sticks to around about the same distance as last start and showed that the heavy track wasn’t overly a worry. Willing to take the risk with her and hope for the best.
Selections: (7) Loniesha – (1) Mother’s Day – (4) Too Good To Be Tru – (8) Bondi Bikini
Race 3 – TAB Rewards Maiden Plate – 1500m
Another maiden race riddled with scratchings which leaves a pretty thin field. (13) Ita looks the class of the field, coming off her nice placing at Canberra over the 1400m. She made solid ground late but was no match for the short-priced favourite on the day. She has had a freshen up for this one and gets an advantage of being stepped up to 1500m. Chad Lever can get her into a nice position from the inside draw and give her every opportunity to break that maiden status. Like many runners today, the query is going to be how she will travel on the wet ground, but hopefully her class can overcome any issues.
Selections: (13) Ita – (17) It’s A Possibility – (11) Miss Twenty Twenty – (9) Fu Ni
Race 4 – Tab.com.au Maiden Plate – 1500m
I have a lot of time for this bloke and will be hoping it is third time lucky for him to break his maiden. (6) Still In Fashion has placed in both of his career runs to date, running third on debut at Scone before meeting a talented gelding last start at Scone on the heavy going. He gets a good draw here, Mitchell Bell sticks with her and the telling point for me is the step up to 1500m, which will suit him down to the ground. He has fitness on his side and showed that he can overcome any issues in the wet conditions previously so I really like his prospects today.
Selections: (6) Still In Fashion – (3) Right Bower – (10) Jazirat – (13) Medician Miss
Race 5 – Bengalla Mining Handicap Class 2 – 1750m
Decided to go a bit wider here with (6) Ludivine, who is returning to her home track after a very luckless run last start. She was stuck behind a wall for the entirety of the straight and when she looked clear and started to accelerate, she was again blocked. She finished in ninth by just 2.4 lengths and arguably should have gone close to winning the race. She comes back in distance here and will likely be giving her opposition a big start rounding the turn. If Mikayla Weir can get the mare going a touch earlier, I think she will go very close at nice each-way odds.
Selections: (6) Ludivine – (1) Sonic Tycoon – (5) Birdonawinningpost – (7) Intercept
Race 6 – Happy New Year Pammy & Gaz Benchmark 66 Handicap – 1750m
We are going to back two horses here and I strongly believe one of the two will win this race. (4) Dashing ‘N’ Daring was impressive first-up winning at Tuncurry and showed he has returned in fine fashion, as that was his only win first-up in six attempts. He has a brilliant record second-up, is drawn well and loves the soft conditions. (7) Go Gadget will have fitness under his belt and although his last two races read fifth and sixth by big margins, he was drawn poorly and had to go to the back of the field, which doesn’t suit him. He has had two runs on wet tracks for a win and a second both at Muswellbrook and will be re-joined by master jockey Robert Thompson. The only query is that it will be his first go at 1500m, though will the nice draw, I believe it will offset any worries and put him right into this race.
Selections: (4) Dashing ‘N’ Daring – (7) Go Gadget – (11) Larynx – (5) Ready By Design
Race 7 – Two Rivers Wines Class 1 Handicap – 1280m
This is by far the race of the day and once again we will be backing two horses in hopes to collect. (3) Frontline was immaculate on debut at Scone in heavy conditions. Coming from the second half of the field, the Time for War gelding accelerated through the wet to win by just under a length and gave every indication that this extra distance will suit. I am expecting a similar run from the draw and look for him flying late. The other I want to play is (5) Commando Hunt who was impressive breaking his maiden status on the same day that (3) Frontline broke his. He is very fit after saluting over the 1300m last start and getting the same distance here third-up with the wet conditions, gives him a great hope to go back-to-back. He has drawn the inside barrier which I think they will hold in a prominent position before using the cutaway late in the piece.
Selections: (3) Frontline – (5) Commando Hunt – (6) Solva – (2) Crazy Train
Race 8 – Merchant Navy Yearlings Class 1 – 1280m
This race is a lot more open than the betting suggests and another each way bet looks the go. (9) Oakfield Romance was massive last start coming from last at Taree on the heavy going to finish second by four lengths. Although it was by a big margin, it was to a much classier horse and managed to beat the rest of the field by 1.5 lengths from last, which is no easy feat at Taree. She will likely go back again and have some work to do but coming to a bigger track like Muswellbrook will be to her advantage and the conditions won’t worry her. She is well worth an each way bet late in the day.
Selections: (9) Oakfield Romance – (13) Missile Rain – (1) Lord of Valens – (2) Fire Dragon
Race 9 – Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale Class 2 Handicap – 1000m
Challenging race to end the day here and I have landed with (12) Mischief Managed here, who is looking for win number three this preparation. I am putting a line through her failure at Armidale and concentrating on her win last start at Gunnedah. I think she is much more suited with the sting out of the ground like she did last start and comes into this with three runs under her belt, so fitness shouldn’t be an issue. She is drawn well and gets the 2kg claim of Dylan Gibbons which gives her no weight to carry. The filly is a nice price for us to finish the day off on a high.
Selections: (12) Mischief Managed – (7) Expellable – (6) Rocketing By – (11) Snitzari