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A couple of potential big guns as well as proven WFA stars kick off their 2017 campaign this Friday night at the Valley in the Group ll Australia Stakes (1200m), and that features the eight race card under lights. The weather is fine, the track is good (4) and the rail is in the true position for the entire circuit.




Race One (18:30) : William Hill Plate 1200m:

Back Me: Prepared to take the chance on 1 Handsome Thief (Bet Now: $5.50). Shamardal four year old that is on debut for the Darren Weir. No trials to go on, so he is a bit of an unknown, but I am gambling on the fact he is pretty good because the stable does normally debut in the country, so the fact they come to town straight away may suggest he is talented.
Big Danger: 2 Big John Cannon (Bet Now: $2.90) is the very interesting runner here. Resumes for Jim Conlan after two runs in the Spring, starting off with a poor effort on a sloppy Bendigo track before rising in grade when racing here on Cox Plate Day where he was an outsider but despite the long price he ran a beauty behind Archives. No trials, so fitness levels are unknown, but he appears talented based on the second outing.
Long Shot: 3 Limestone Cowboy (Bet Now: $11.00) ran over 1300m at Stawell last time out on a soft track where he had a nice sit just off the pace and tried hard but was no match late for Havadash, and the form has held up with Arctic Flow winning at Ballarat. Tongue Tie goes on and Oliver steers. Rates highly.



Race Two (19:00) : Sweeney Estate Agents Plate 1000m:

Back Me: 9 La Chica Rossa (Bet Now: $2.90) for me here and with some confidence. Unraced daughter of Denman trained by Chris Waller and gee she looks above average if her latest jumpout at Flemington is any indicator. Led all the way and won that under a hold, ran okay time and appeared to handle the shifty surface nicely. Looks a lovely starting point for her.
Big Danger: 1 Coroglen (Bet Now: $15.00) is a son of Magnus that resumes for Team Hawkes after failing in the Maribyrnong Trial behind Madeenaty where he just looked completely lost down the Flemington straight. Spelled and looked in good order in his respective jumpout last week when going to the line under a good grip from Dwayne Dunn. Keen to see what he does here.
Long Shot: 4 Southern Turf (Bet Now: $26.00) was a despised outsider when debuting at Geelong but despite his long price of $101, I thought he ran quite well and stuck to the task gamely when third to Jukebox, who has been one of the more impressive juveniles Victoria has seen this season. Not sure how he will go here, but I think he is a must include for exotics.



Race Three (19:30) : Simpson Construction Handicap (70) 1000m:

Back Me: 7 Manihi Mischief (Bet Now: $3.80) is a gelding I am willing to give another chance to. Both runs this time in have come at this track/distance, starting off with an encouraging second to Core Beach before being very disappointing behind subsequent winner Lady Esprit, though he was wide all the way. Could well be the classic of the third up bounce back after a flat second up effort.
Big Danger: 1 Angry Gee (Bet Now: $3.20) is on the back up after racing over this track/distance last Saturday where he got back in the run before getting the breaks and charging home late when a close up fourth to the in form mare Lady Esprit. Big drop in depth here and gets in really well at the weights after the claim for Jack Martin.
Long Shot: 5 Military (Bet Now: $13.00) is a ripping campaigner for Luke Oliver who is never far away from the action. He ran last Friday night at Cranbourne where he chased hard but had to settle for a close up second to Kentucky Flyer. He has run some really good races at the Valley previously and this isn’t a strong race.



Race Four (20:00) : Melbourne Signage Concepts Handicap (70) 1600m:

Back Me: 6 Shewearsthepants (Bet Now: $5.00) looked in a bit of trouble when racing over the Cranbourne mile last Friday night but a confident and patient ride from Mick Dee saw the filly get to the outside and draw clear late for a dominant maiden triumph. Looks ready to go right on with it now and I am confident she can get the job done here.
Big Danger: 8 Millie The Missile (Bet Now: $14.00) might be a veteran of just two career outings but she is showing a fair bit of promise for Luke Oliver. She ran over 1400m at Pakenham last Thursday and was a real eye catcher, getting back in the run before finishing off her race quite strongly to run a narrow second to Echo Queen. She will love the step up to the mile, and overall, this isn’t a strong race.
Long Shot: 7 Zero Patience (Bet Now: $10.00) beat Shewearsthepans in a Mornington maiden two back before racing over the same track/distance where she got back in a slowly run and wasn’t beaten far in sixth position. Extra 100m here looks ideal, stable is going and I think she can measure up and prove a threat.



Race Five (20:30) : Inglis 55 Second Challenge Heat 10 (90) 955m:

Back Me: 2 Petite’s Reward (Bet Now: $3.40) is a talented mare for Brendon McCarthy who saves her best for the Valley so I will go her way. She attempted to lead all the way over 1100m at Caulfield last time out but jut copped a bit too much pressure on speed and faded late when sixth to Prussian Vixen. Maps really well here from the inside gate and as I said, she saves her best for here.
Big Danger: 6 Weather The Storm (Bet Now: $5.00) is a talented galloper who has been given a freshen up since racing at Mornington where he raced wide most of the way and dropped out to run down the track behind Cheeky Babe. She does tend to save her best for when she is produced fresh, and this is a very winnable race if she brings her A-Game.
Long Shot: Race has really fallen away due to scratchings, so perhaps a mare like 5 Pantheress (Bet Now: $10.00) can fire. Was solid earlier on in her first prep for the Corstens team but was disappointing last time out behind Sullivan Bay. But as I said, the small field will suit her, she should press forward and back to this trip will aid her winning claims.



Race Six (21:00) : 1PRINT Tour Of Victoria Distance Series Heat 4 (70) 2040m:

Back Me: 6 On Wings (Bet Now: $3.40) is a handy stayer for Darren Weir who has been pretty good in four runs this time in, starting off with a strong win against the slow tempo at Ballarat before a couple of solid efforts in town. He then raced at Caulfield last time out and worked home well late behind Skulduggery. Looks ready for the 2000m now and has upside I suspect. Rates highly.
Big Danger: 9 Zilbiyr (Bet Now: $4.20) is a French galloper who has had two runs down under and has been very good on each occasion for Robert Kingston, the latest coming over 2000m at the Bool on January 15 when getting back and running on well late behind Manny. Two horses have come out of that race to win, so the form reads well, and I think he has a stack of upside.
Long Shot: 7 Jimmy Hoffa (Bet Now: $21.00) is the very interesting runner here. Queensland raider trained by Bevan Laming who has been okay this time in, winning a couple of races on the bounce at the Sunny Coast and Grafton respectively before three runs at metro level where he has been far from disgraced. He is a tough stayer who will keep going, so he bears close watching.



Race Seven (21:30) : Browns Sawdust & Shavings Australia Stakes 1200m:

Back Me: All over the Godolphin youngster 7 Chetwood (Bet Now: $3.40) here. He is the horse who could potentially go on to win a Group l this time in and the efforts he produced last prep suggests he is on an upward spiral towards the top of the tree. Won all five races this time in, highlighted by dominant wins at Stakes level in the Cameron and Weekend Hussler. Two trials leading in have been high class, and though WFA is the query, he has the natural brilliance.
Big Danger: 3 Malaguerra (Bet Now: $4.40) is a high class sprinter that is back in work for the Gelagotis boys and has to be considered off what he produced in the Spring. Ran three times, highlighted of course by winning the Darley Classic. Went to the Winterbottom at Ascot and not much went right behind Takedown. The talk from the stable is that they want to try him as a 1400/1600 horse, so how forward he is for this is an unknown, but his fresh record is top quality.
Long Shot: 10 Peacock (Bet Now: $23.00) is a talented three year old that resumes for John O’Shea. Promised to get to this level and perhaps beyond so it will be interesting to see how he measures up. Ridden upside down fresh last start on Newcastle Cup Day before going to Flemington and running fourth behind Inside Agent before getting the win at Caulfield in the Gothic and that form was franked in the Carbine Club and then the Sandown Guineas. Recent jump out (January 13, Heat 6) looked sharp to my eye and he really attacked the line under a hold. Interesting to see what he does here.



Race Eight (22:00) : The Slade Bloodstock Handicap (70) 1200m:

Back Me: 2 Moral Outrage (Bet Now: $10.00) just felt the pinch late when resuming over 1000m here behind Lady Esprit before getting the confidence back up with a dominant on speed win over 1200m at Pakenham. Draws to get any run Walker desires, and being third up, he should just about be ready fitness wise. Hard to beat.
Big Danger: 12 Theanswermyfriend (Bet Now: $4.00) is a three year old heading towards the Derby, whether it be ATC or South Australian, so I am sure whatever he does here he will improve on, but he certainly has the talent to sprint well fresh. Bolted up in a recent Benalla trial and ran very slick time, so to my eye, he certainly is forward enough to run a beauty.
Long Shot: 9 Gangnam Style (Bet Now: $19.00) resumed over the 1000m here and worked home hard late when a close up third to Lady Esprit before racing down the straight at Flemington where he was outclassed and perhaps didn’t handle the course behind Rocket Tommy. Got a really good record at the Valley and can definitely bounce back here.



BEST BET: Race Seven Number 7 Chetwood

NEXT BEST: Race Two Number 9 La Chica Rossa

VALUE: Race Four Number 6 Shewearsthepants



Quaddie Tips (Races Five Through To Eight):

Leg One: 1, 2, 4, 6

Leg Two: 5, 6, 7, 9, 12

Leg Three: 1, 2, 3, 7, 10

Leg Four: 1, 2, 4, 9, 12

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