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The Cox Plate Carnival kicks off this Friday night with a cracking eight race card, highlighted by the $1 Million Group l Sportingbet Manikato Stakes (1200m), which will see the best of the best Australia has to offer in the sprinting ranks combine. Boom up and comer Terravista heads the betting after a blistering start to his Spring, while hot on his heels is Australian horse of the year, Lankan Rupee, followed by the Queensland Bulldog, Buffering.

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Race One (6:45pm) : Triforce Handicap 1200m: Form Guide

Back Me: Looks to be a clear two horse race between Fast ‘N’ Rocking (Best Odds: $2.50) and Spirits Dance. Leaning towards the former given he is the one in form. He was gelded after his prep and it paid dividends with an electric first up win at Caulfield before not having much luck at Stakes level on the same track behind the low flying In Cahoots. Gets every chance from barrier one and looks beautifully in at the weights.
Big Danger: Spirits Dance (Best Odds: $4.00) hasn’t done much this prep, but she finds a really good race to bounce back to some sort of positive form. She was quite disappointing last time out at Flemington behind Under The Louvre, but that form is very good with all three placegetters running well last weekend. Should lead these comfortably and take some beating, on her best form.
Roughie: Who You Know (Best Odds: $41.00) is an Adelaide runner for Happy Trails trainer Paul Beshara. This gelding has been quite good back home, and attempted to lead all the way last time out but just copped too much pressure in front and couldn’t quite go on with it when third to Nite Rocker. Form has held up with that horse running second to Group l performer Hucklebuck last Saturday. Terribly in at the weights, but maps quite well and is in form.


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Race Two (7:15pm) : LF Sign Group Handicap 2040m: Form Guide

Back Me: Melaleuca (Best Odds: $15.00) has been good to me this prep, so I will stay loyal with her. She was heavily backed last Saturday at Morphettville, and despite racing wide with no cover for the entire trip, she proved too good for her rivals. The O’Sullivans haven’t had this mare going any better, so she definitely has earned a crack at this type of race. Drawn to get a soft trip and get every chance to run the 2040m. Happy to go with her each-way.
Big Danger: Lady Cumquat (Best Odds: $2.00) had been a touch disappointing in her opening two runs for Darren Weir, but the mare bounced back to her best with a flashing second to Star Fashion in the Ladies Day Vase (1600m) at Caulfield. Ideally suited by the rise to 2040m, the Weir/Rawiller combo is white hot at the moment and she has upside, as well as getting in well at the weights.
Roughie: Spinderbella (Best Odds: $8.50) was well tried for the Pinker Pinker Plate (2080m) last time out, but unfortunately for her supporters, she got caught deep for the first bit of the race and was forced to go forward, and that really isn’t her go. For her to only get beat a length was enormous and I think with a more patient ride, she will take some beating here.


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Race Three (7:45pm) : Subzero Greys Challenge Heat 2 (90) 1500m: Form Guide

Back Me: I am pretty keen on the Queensland galloper Black Jet (Best Odds: $3.80). He had good form around him during the Summer up north, then was given a good spell and resumed the other day at Doomben. His run was outstanding there given he was back near last on the fence and made up a stack of ground to run third on a day where it was hard to make up ground. The Queensland grey from last year, Black Cash, won this series in a much stronger edition of this series, and given Black Jet has plenty of upside, I am confident he can get the job done.
Big Danger: Despite his shocking record at Moonee Valley, Freshwater Storm (Best Odds: $6.00) has to go in as one of the hardest to beat given he was an impressive winner of the first heat of this series at Caulfield, sitting off the speed and pouncing late. Doesn’t face an overly strong field here compared to last time out barring the top tip, so despite the poor showings he has produced in the past at this track, he is right in the mix.
Roughie: Distant Dreams (Best Odds: $7.00) led from the outset to bolt in over the mile here last time out, although the margin and dominance of the win could be flattered a little given there was a lethal bias towards leaders. Still, she did the job quite impressively and is in the all conquering Darren Weir camp.


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Race Four (8:15pm) : Chandler Macleod Crockett Stakes 1200m: Form Guide

Back Me: More Radiant (Best Odds: $2.50) has a horrendous racing pattern, but if she brings her best, she should be winning this. There was smart money for her to win the Thoroughbred Club Stakes (1200m) and beat Earthquake, but she was tardy away and then got squeezed up between runners and pretty much lost any winning hope, so for her to only be beaten 1.1 lengths was very good. She has more upside than the Big Danger and will be very strong at the end of 1200m.
Big Danger: Tawteen (Best Odds: $2.70) was an impressive all the way winner of this track/distance three back, then was gassed in the Champagne Stakes (1200m) by Eloping before going to Caulfield for the Thoroughbred Club and attempting to lead throughout but just found Earthquake a touch too classy. Lead is hers for the taking again and that is a big advantage at this track.
Roughie: Sebring Lane (Best Odds: $10.00) took on the mares when resuming here over 1000m three weeks back and I thought she was very good. She got a long way back in the run, was forced the widest on the turn and took a few strides to wind up, but once she did, she was excellent late and would have won in another few strides. She can show early speed, so perhaps she could force the issue with Tawteen and set it up for More Radiant. But even by herself, she is a chance.


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Race Five (8:45pm) : Jeep 55 Second Challenge Heat 3 955m: Form Guide

Back Me: Consorting (Best Odds: $4.80) was hammered in betting when racing in the second heat of this series three weeks back, and after settling worse than midfield, the stakes placed gelding unleashed a powerful finishing burst to win and win with a leg in the air. He was tried as a 1200m/1400m, but I think the sprinting caper is his go; a fast tempo to run on off looks ideal again and should take a power of beating.
Big Danger: Diamond Oasis (Best Odds: $3.00) was a touch unlucky not to win two back at Doomben, then he went to his home track and took care of his rivals in really good fashion, running blistering time for the 1000m, and comparing times for the meeting, it was highly impressive. Joe Pride is having a great run at the moment and it could well start off a big night for the Rabbitohs tragic.
Roughie: State Of Wealth (Best Odds: $15.00) could be an improver at odds. His two runs in Melbourne have been ok without a great deal of luck. Forget he went around in the Testa Rossa (1200m) behind Target In Sight where he got held up behind tiring leaders. He then went to the Apache Cat (1000m) at Cranbourne and was ridden too aggressively to lead and tired late. He is better drawn here, may get the soft trip behind an electric speed and he does have a turn of foot when given the chance.


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Race Six (9:15pm) : Jeep Country Cup 1600m: Form Guide

Back Me: Going to put Riviera Riches (Best Odds: $9.00) on top. This gelding has been up for a long time, but continues to race quite well. He scored a strong win at Echuca two back, then ran on Moe Cup Day last week and just didn’t look 100% happy on the wet track when fourth to Resistant, a stakes galloper on his day. Back on to a firmer surface now and just loves the 1600m. In a tough race, I’ll go with him.
Big Danger: Arctic Song (Best Odds: $3.80) looked the winner last week at Caulfield, but just failed to run the mile out after sitting on the speed and was nabbed in the last stride by London Stripe. Drawn beautifully here and should get the run of the race just off the speed and prove hard to beat.
Roughie: Flyingconi (Best Odds: $9.00) is in a real purple patch at present, winning the Mildura Cup (1400m) three back before running fourth at Caulfield to subsequent multiple Group l winner Trust In A Gust. He then went to the Bairnsdale Cup (1600m) and made up many lengths from the back when fifth to Vizhaka, beaten just over a length. He finds a really good race here and races quite well at the track.


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Race Seven (9:45pm) : Sportingbet Manikato Stakes 1200m: Form Guide

Back Me: Buffering (Best Odds: $6.00) is the Queensland Bulldog who doesn’t know how to quit and I think is a special here. He showed that is back to his best with another superb win in the Moir Stakes (1200m), fending off the challenges of Lankan Rupee and Rebel Dane to win narrowly. He has since gone back to the Flemington jumpouts and did what he had to there. He is a favourite of mine and I’d love to see him win, and he gets every chance thanks to the barrier drawn given that no speed is drawn around him and he should get a very cheap first 100m or so. Extremely hard to beat for mine.
Big Danger: Terravista (Best Odds: $3.90) is the real up and coming star from Sydney who many in NSW believe is the best sprinter in Australia at the moment. His win in the Shorts (1100m) was explosive and he won with ridiculous ease. Take away Famous Seamus, and the form from that race has not held up at all, so that’s a query I have, but his trial the other day behind Sidestep was very sharp and he looks ready to rumble here. Do I want to take $3? No, because this is his first test away from NSW and he takes on one of the best fields we have seen in a sprint race for a number of years with the exception of Black Caviar and Hay List at his best. But he is drawn to get the drop on the leaders.
Roughie: Famous Seamus (Best Odds: $21.00) has come back as good as ever, and that was evident with his fast finishing third against the bias to Terravista in the Shorts, then sat three wide with no cover and got the job done in the Premiere Stakes (1200m). Went to the trials last week on his home track at Hawkesbury and won that impressively, running sub 34 under no pressure, so he is flying for this, and for mine, he is the knockout runner. Keen to take on Lankan Rupee.


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Race Eight (10:15pm) : City Jeep Handicap 2040m: Form Guide

Back Me: Looks a really good race for Slow Pace (Best Odds: $5.00) and Kris Lees. The former import has performed admirably in Sydney since coming over from the UK, but he really hasn’t show his best form, so perhaps coming back to this racing direction and a trip away could sharpen this horse right up. He was due to run in the David Jones Cup (2000m) last weekend but was scratched and saved. Looks a thin race, so he needs to show something and I am confident he can get the job done.
Big Danger: Pheidon (Best Odds: $3.00) looks the one to beat on paper. He was beautifully ridden in the Epsom Handicap (1600m) when attempting to lead all the way, but just didn’t quite have the class and killer punch to go on with it and ran sixth to He’s Your Man, beaten just under two lengths. Looks to get a very soft lead here and did win over this track/distance at Group ll level during the Autumn, so he will take a power of beating.
Roughie: Look for improvement from Hvasstan (Best Odds: $10.00). I was quite keen on him in the Moe Cup (2050m) last week but he just looked like he didn’t handle the wet track at all and ran near last. His run prior to that was here where he ran sixth to The Cleaner, beaten under two lengths. If He brings that form here, he will be more than competitive.


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BEST BET: Race Seven Number 1 Buffering

NEXT BEST: Race Four Number 3 More Radiant

VALUE: Race Two Number 8 Melaleuca


Quaddie Tips (Races Five Through To Eight):

Leg One: 2, 4, 7

Leg Two: 2, 6, 7, 11, 12

Leg Three: 1

Leg Four: 1, 5, 6

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