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In terms of class, the Newcastle Cup (2300m) probably isn’t the best race but what it lacks in depth, it makes up for in competitiveness. Stratofortress was much too good in the 2010 edition for Gai and Peter Robl. Will Tulloch lodge take it out this year with Essence Of Success? Or will The Verminator complete the Wyong Cup/Newcastle Cup double? Here is my runner by runner preview.

Form Guide

1 – Ironstein
SCRATCHED

2 – Bellagio Wynn
Produced a cracker first up run in the Winter Challenge final, then got left behind in a slowly run race behind Forteller. He then stepped out in the Kingston Town last Saturday and although he finished 11th, his run wasn’t too bad. 2300m and a firmer surface helps him and Cassidy jumping on is a big bonus, but he just needs to improve a length or two to be in the finish. First four chance.

3 – Spechenka
Connections are daring to dream about group one glory with this bloke and good luck to them. He has done very well in three runs since his Caloundra Cup triumph back in July. Got back last start and made up nice ground in the middle of the ruck to get third under 58.5kg. Drops to 55kg, bigger track, dry surface and is proven over the distance. Queensland horses have a fair record in this race and he can certainly win if the pace is on for him up in front.

4 – The Verminator
Could not have been any more impressive when winning the Wyong Cup. Having said that, it was a beauty from Glyn Schofield to get it home. One thing that this horse has that not many others in this race have is a turn of foot. That will prove vital in the latter stages of this race and if he is given a similar to that of when he saluted at Wyong, he’ll do the same here. Hard to beat for Chris Waller.

5 – Hume
Disappointing in the Wyong Cup. His form prior to that would have had him right in contention for this. But you have to respect Brian Smith and his judgement. He wouldn’t bring it to Newcastle for no reason. A chance if he finds his best form.

6 – Viking Legend
Was a big flop at Wyong after having the perfect run. Cannot see him improving enough to feature.

7 – Essence Of Success
Had no luck at all behind The Verminator. She sat three wide throughout so to finish second was an outstanding effort. Hopefully she has recovered well enough from that run to be a force here because she is one tough customer who will not go away from a fight. If she can get in from the barrier, she is a winning hope.

8 – Green Moon
A very nice import who is getting better for Lloyd and Nick Williams. Caught the eye on debut before not handling Moonee Valley it seemed. Last start he got well back at Flemington and was in an awkward spot before getting out and hitting the line nicely behind December Draw, a leading contender for the Cups. 2300m looks perfect, racing clockwise will suit him and he has plenty of upside on his rivals. Big danger.

9 – Warrior Within
Nice gelding from Queensland who ran an even race behind The Verminator. He did beat that horse home in the Grafton Cup so I wouldn’t put a line through him completely. Maybe first four with luck?

10 – Raeburn
Settled last and worked home well in the Wyong Cup. Extra distance suits and from the inside barrier Ric McMahon will put him to sleep. He is knocking on the door to win a race, but I just question whether or not if this is the race for him. A slight place hope.

11 – Gazza Guru
Loomed to win at Wyong but just found two better on the day. He is flying at present but he just keeps bumping into handy horses. But the key factor that helps is G Boss. 2300m with Bossy riding gets you home most of the time. Treat very carefully.

12 – Timetable
He is racing well at present but in much easier races than this. A win would surprise but first four wouldn’t given he is on his home track.

13 – Home On A Wing
This is the knockout horse. Bolted in two starts back before being given a poor ride by McEvoy at Rosehill and he was never tested by the hoop. He has been specked to win the Caulfield Cup so some punters think there is a good horse here. He’d need to win here and win well to even consider going down that path but he has improvement in him and he’ll get the run of the race.

14 – Tamanu Park
My top tip. $11 with corporate bookies. This horse reminds me of Precedence, another of Barts. They are getting better with age and fire when on a firm surface. This bloke has promised to do anything since his younger days but has failed. Now though, he is showing his true colours with a dominant last start win at Rosehill. That was over 2000m but he’ll lap up the extra 300m here. He’ll get back, hopefully with cover, and outstay his rivals here for Bart and Corey Brown. Great value bet.

15 – Flaming Circle
He struggled in a very weak race at Taree three starts back, but his last two runs have been excellent at Rosehill and Wyong. If he gets a soft run near the speed, I wouldn’t put it beyond to be near the placings.

16 – Splendid Honours
Was ordinary on Saturday but the 2300m suits him nicely and back to his home track. But they are the only positives.

17 – Rodeo Playboy
SCRATCHED

Selections:
At value, I’m going with Tamanu Park. I just think he is the up and comer with some freshness about him. I liked his last start win at Rosehill and a repeat effort will see him right in the mix. The Verminator for second. He is in great form of present and it’s hard to knock anything with the Waller/Schofield combination. Essence Of Success for third. Tough mare who is never too far away from the action. With luck from the barrier she can feature and Gazza Guru for fourth. Bossy in a feature staying race…enough said. Tamanu Park on top, from The Verminator, Essence Of Success and Gazza Guru.

Written by Adam Page

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