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Eight races are set down to be run and won at Flemington to kick off the new year, highlighted by the two $150,00 events, the Group lll Standish Handicap (1200m) and Listed Bagot Handicap (2800m).


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Race One (1:05pm) : New Year Plate 1000m: Form Guide

Back Me: I was really impressed by the debut win at Seymour by Take Pride (Best Odds: $4.20), who was well backed in betting prior and showed a really good turn of foot when asked by jockey Cory Parish in the straight. She is in the market for the Blue Diamond thanks to that win, so if she was to head that way, she’d want to put in a really good performance here, and I am confident she can.
Big Danger: Trinity River (Best Odds: $4.80) is a well bred daughter of Lonhro trained by Peter Moody who is on debut here. She showed good speed to win a Sandown jump out last week in really impressive fashion, winning by a space and running decent time under some pressure. Bred to be a good one, especially early on, so watch the market with her.
Roughie: Air Apparent (Best Odds: $9.00) is on debut for the Hayes/Dabernig stable off the back of a nice jump out at this track recently, showing good speed throughout to finish in the placings without being fully extended. Drawn to be out of trouble and has obviously had experience down the course, which is a key advantage.


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Race Two (1:45pm) : Riverside Handicap (70) 1200m: Form Guide

Back Me: Pride Rock (Best Odds: $6.50) caught the attention of most punters with her slashing maiden win two back at Bendigo before racing at Sandown on December 10 and finishing third in a real blanket finish, beaten a half length. I think she is better ridden a touch more cold than what she was last time out, and if that happens, we will see that explosive finish she produced to win at Bendigo, and that will be good enough to be a major player here.
Big Danger: For Lulu (Best Odds: $4.80) has put together two impressive wins from as many runs this time in, breaking her maiden status under the lights at Cranbourne before stepping out in the evening at the Valley and leading all the way to win impressively in what looks to be a really good form race. Trained on the track, in winning form, and despite the weight rise, she looks one of the hardest to beat.
Roughie: Devon Princess (Best Odds: $31.00) finished fourth in that race For Lulu won at the Valley, and she was very good there in defeat given she sat three wide with no cover, carrying 59.5kg. She ended up getting beat just under three lengths, so given the torrid run, she was excellent I thought. Gets a 4.5kg weight pull on For Lulu and is drawn the right part of the track.


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Race Three (2:20pm) : Bryan Moore Handicap 2000m: Form Guide

Back Me: I think the best bet on the card is here in the shape of Fulgur (Best Odds: $8.50), who put the writing on the wall with an excellent third over this track/distance a couple of weeks back to Taiyoo and Are There Any. The latter had the soft run on the speed while the winner had the sit behind Fulgur. Fulgur now gets a 2kg weight pull on Taiyoo and a 2.5kg weight pull on Are There Any. For mine, he is clearly the horse to back from that form reference, which appears to be the best, draws well and Williams sticks.
Big Danger: Extra Zero (Best Odds: $7.00) has had a remarkable 12 or so months, earning prizemoney in 14 of his last 15 starts. Problem is that he doesn’t win, and I think everyone thought he was going to do it last time out over this track/distance when he loomed up to beat Phantom Brew, but as he has done in recent times, he doesn’t want to go on with it. He won’t be getting my money, but he is sure to be right in the finish. Many TV remotes will be broken across Australia if he wins but.
Roughie: Tuscan Fire (Best Odds: $10.00) was well backed to win the Ballarat Cup when fifth to Mujadale, then came here in that Phantom Brew race and looked to win 150m out, but just died on his run and ended up in third. Pat Moloney was supposed to ride on that occasion but Tom Sadler took the ride. Moloney is back on, which is a big positive IMO because he was the last hoop to win on the horse, which was at this track.


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Race Four (3:00pm) : Williamstown Handicap (78) 1400m: Form Guide

Back Me: Bascule (Best Odds: $3.10) did the job for us first up over this track/distance and I don’t see any reason to jump off. He did trial well in Sydney prior, and was immediately sent south by Chris Waller, and he got instant rewards on December 20 here, aided by a gun ride from Craig Williams, who sticks. Bascule has to take on the older horses now, but looks to have real quality about him and he should only improve off that first up performance.
Big Danger: The Bowler (Best Odds: $6.50) had absolutely no luck first up at the Valley behind Hotel Sierra, then ran over 1200m here and just failed to pick up Churchill Dancer in a close photo finish. He was crunched in betting first up, then was friendless second up. The stable is a punting stable, so I think you’ll get a good guide on this horse and his chances by the market.
Roughie: There was good support for Vuelta (Best Odds: $7.50) when resuming on Stakes Day here where he didn’t get much luck behind Lord Aspen. He then was freshened up and went to Morphettville where he was very stiff not to win. He got badly held up behind tiring leaders, and when Jamie Kah was about to get clear, she was shoved back in the pocket and lost all chance. Should get a clear run, has upside, stable is flying and the jockey has been in outstanding form since returning from injury.


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Race Five (3:40pm) : Flemington 1840-2015 Handicap (90) 1000m: Form Guide

Back Me: Going to give The Quarterback (Best Odds: $5.50) another chance. Two back he ran over 1400m during Cup Week here and ran sixth. We now know he doesn’t run beyond 1200m, so he was freshened up and ran over this track/distance a couple of weeks back when storming home late to run third to Play Master, though The Quarterback did feel the pinch the final 75m after looking the winner. He is drawn next to a speedster, so he should get the dream cart up. Getting close to D-Day for him now IMO.
Big Danger: Play Master (Best Odds: $3.20) is a good little horse for Benalla trainer Peter Smith who was given a lovely ride by Jye McNeil to win first up here in impressive fashion. He only has to go up half a kilo from that win, and does appear to have a stack of upside left, and like the top tip, is drawn near a speedster in Fab Fevola.
Roughie: Laohu (Best Odds: $8.00) resumes here for Team Hawkes after a really solid prep during the Winter/Spring without winning. He might not have won, but he raced behind some quality gallopers, including stakes performers Couldn’t Agreemore, Stratigraphy and Hosting, as well as subsequent Group l winner Trust In A Gust. Jump out at Flemington on December 19 was very impressive and he appears ready to rock first up.


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Race Six (4:20pm) : Standish Handicap 1200m: Form Guide

Back Me: Putting Aeronautical (Best Odds: $6.50) on top. The Sydney sider, who is at his best when on firm ground, can certainly produce some good runs down the straight six. He has had two runs this time in, both resulting in sixths. First up he was run off his legs behind Deep Field, then got a long way back and worked home strongly near the inside behind Our Boy Malachi. Last time he ran down this course, he was five lengths of Snitzerland in the Lightning. That’s good enough for me here.
Big Danger: Reparations (Best Odds: $4.00) resumed over this track/distance on Cup Day with a stunning win, winning by over a length but showing a devastating turn of foot when presented. He isn’t really noted as a first up performer, so that did come as a shock. Hasn’t been seen since, so fitness levels are the query, but a repeat of the first up run and he goes very close here.
Roughie: Office Bearer (Best Odds: $6.50) ran second to Reparations before going to the Kevin Heffernan at Sandown where she was disappointing but was later found to have had mucus in the nostrils so I can forgive her for that. Jump out at Caulfield on December 16 was nothing flash, but her two runs here have been excellent and she strikes a very winnable race on her best form.


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Race Seven (5:00pm) : Bagot Handicap 2800m: Form Guide

Back Me: Hurdy Gurdy Man (Best Odds: $10.00) on top for me in what looks to be a really good edition of the Bagot. His last three runs have all caught my eye. He worked home well against the bias behind in Mujadale in both the Ararat Cup and Ballarat Cup, then he went to the Werribee Cup and stormed home late to just get out bobbed by Cadillac Mountain in a photo finish. He is a proven weight carrier, ran second in this race last year and should get the softest trip from gate one. I think $10 is a great price.
Big Danger: De Little Engine (Best Odds: $3.00) looks the obvious threat. This horse has won his past three, starting off on Ballarat Cup Day when bolting in, then out staying his rivals at Sandown before narrowly winning thanks to a peach ride from James Winks. The query is the trip, but he does drop 3.5kg in weight and should get an economical trip again. Price is short, but still extremely hard to beat.
Roughie: Auberge (Best Odds: $5.50) looked gone 600m out last time here, but he surged late and was only two lengths off De Little Engine. Meets the winner worse off at the weights, but he will be very strong at the end of 2800m while the favourite, although the clear one to beat, is a risk.


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Race Eight (5:40pm) : George Watson Handicap (90) 1400m: Form Guide

Back Me: I think the wide gate will ensure we get a decent price for Ringo (Best Odds: $4.00), who went enormous first up over this track/distance when a narrow second to stablemate Ringo, who did have the weight pull and race fitness edge. Second up last time in was in the Winter Championship Final here when fifth to Akavoroun, beaten three lengths, with The Cleaner in second. Pretty decent form for a 90 handicap. If Moloney can overcome the barrier, class will come through.
Big Danger: Calming Influence (Best Odds: $4.60) was given a lovely front running steer by Ollie over this track/distance last time out, but just couldn’t quite hold off the fast finishing Petite Diablesse, who had a 6kg weight swing. Calming Influence probably isn’t all that well weighted here against the boys, but she should be able to be ridden with cover this time, and is now third up, so she should be cherry ripe fitness wise.
Roughie: Floatmyboat (Best Odds: $6.50) put up a remarkable performance to win here last time out, sitting wide with no cover for the entire yet drew up to the leaders and went on by to record a very impressive victory. Stable is absolutely flying at present, and this horse draws much better, which should navigate the weight rise.

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BEST BET: Race Three Number 5 Fulgur

NEXT BEST: Race Eight Number 1 Ringo

VALUE: Race Seven Number 1 Hurdy Gurdy Man


Quaddie Tips (Races Five Through To Eight):

Leg One: 1, 3, 4, 5, 8

Leg Two: 1, 2, 7

Leg Three: 1, 6, 9

Leg Four: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6

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