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The iconic Oakbank Carnival gets underway on Saturday with a cracking program, headlined by the Great Eastern Steeple (4950m). The weather is fine, the track is good (4) and the rail is in the true position for the entire circuit.

Race 1. (13:00) Arkaba Hotel Handicap (70) 1400m

Back Me

7 Fibbers (Bet Now: $15.00) looks hard to beat. Lloyd Kennewell trains this daughter of Savabeel, who was backed as if unbeatable when resuming in a maiden at Clare and she won impressively to justify the support with a commanding victory despite not appearing to handle the track all that great. Up to 1400m looks ideal, has upside and a touch of brilliance on these.

Danger

2 El Despeardo (Bet Now: $3.00) was scratched from an easier race at Strathalbyn on Wednesday in favour of this and I reckon that could be a lead on how the horse is going. He ran over the 1550m three weeks back on the Parks track and plugged away to run third to Skillful Steps. Recent trial sbsequent was good and looks well placed back to 1400m.

Long Shot

3 Mighty Mick (Bet Now: $11.00) hasn’t raced for over three weeks since breaking the maiden status at Gawler. Ryan Hurdle gave the Hussonet gelding a sweet trip just off the pace before angling into clear and finishing best to score in a time which was okay relative to the day. Little query at 1400m but hard fit and now has that winning feeling.

Race 2. (13:36) Sugar Financial Services Classic Hurdle 3600m

Back Me

I think this race evolves around 2 Renew (Bet Now: $7.00) and where he is at. Market knew something was amiss with the horse when he raced here a couple of weeks back and it was spot on as the horse was a beaten runner around 1200m from home, with the $3.30-$5-$4.80 flucs telling the story despite trialling over the jumps like Crisp. If he’s right, he wins, but it’s a big if off last time.

Danger

1 Angelology (Bet Now: $3.10) is the horse to beat, clearly, on form. Dominant winner of the Wangaratta Cup before racing at Mornington last Saturday where he was a gutsy fourth to Velox, beaten four lengths. Finally gets to the jumps, Pateman steers and is a proven weight carrier, so 70kg is no issue for mine.

Long Shot

8 Getting Leggie (Bet Now: $4.40) ran third to Renew in this race last year but he looks clearly a much better horse this time around. Won the maiden over the hurdles last time out at the Bool under a brilliant on pace ride from Pateman, who controlled things beautifully in front and his flat speed came to the fore. He’ll be on speed and giving his all.

Race 3. (14:11) Sidewood Estate Handicap (75) 1100m

Back Me

6 Mr Liberty (Bet Now: $4.80) looks a great bet for mine. Resumed a couple of Wednesdays back over the 1000m at Sandown and I thought he stuck on really well in defeat behind the above average Weir horse Holy Blade. Stable is absolutely flying at the moment and they are placing their horses superbly. Looks as if they’ve done it again.

Danger

11 Deecember (Bet Now: $9.50) is a consistent mare for the Jarrod McLean team who doesn’t have the greatest of winning strike rates but she always tries hard. That was evident a couple of Friday nights back at the Valley when a close up third to Working From Home after sitting near the speed throughout. This looks a winnable race.

Long Shot

10 Vicki’s Boy (Bet Now: $14.00), on his best form, would be winning this, but he hasn’t shown it for a while now. He ran over 1000m on the Parks track a fortnight back where he sat off the speed and tried hard but clearly no match for a potential blacktype horse in Despatch. That form reads well…just a matter of the horse turning up with his A Game.

Race 4. (14:46) O'Leary Walker Wines Handicap (82) 1400m

Back Me

8 Tatoosh (Bet Now: $2.70) looks very well placed once again by the Will Clarken team. On the quick back up after winning impressively over 1400m on the Parks track last Saturday where he sat off the pace and though he took a little while to get into his work, his last 75-100 was very impressive and he chased hard to win. Should be hard fit and I like that he is backing up.

Danger

10 Devilishly (Bet Now: $7.50) isn’t the most reliable mare racing but she has that winning feeling and she could well go on with it now. Ran over 1500m on Yarra Valley Cup Day where Cory Parish gave the mare a lovely sit near the speed and though she never really got away from then, she held them off and won well. Has run well in SA before so respect her.

Long Shot

12 Abu Dhabi (Bet Now: $12.00) could be the big improver here. He is two weeks between runs since being heavily backed over the 1400m on the Parks track and if you were on, your money was done after around 200m because he pulled his head off and young Chang just couldn’t hold him at all. With better racing manners, he can bounce back hard.

Race 5. (15:21) Thomas Foods International Great Eastern Steeplechase 4950m

Back Me

3 Zed Em (Bet Now: $1.70) clearly on top for me in the Great Eastern. Crunched in betting last time out in the Von Doussa where he attempted to lead all the way under Pateman and despite a few nervous moments towards the end, he found plenty and his classed kicked in. Tuned up for this with an excellent flat run on Sunday at Echuca behind stablemate Garfunkel. Keen.

Danger

4 I’ll’ava’half (Bet Now: $3.30) is one of the better jumpers we have in Australia and he proved he was right on target for this and then the Bool when winning over the 3450m at the Bool over the steeples under a confident ride from Horner Jr. Has run well here before and has that hard jumps run under the belt which should hold him in good stead here.

Long Shot

If we got a bottomless track, I’d declare 1 No Song No Supper (Bet Now: $6.50) because he probably rates alongside Winx as the best wet tracker in Australia. He comes through the Garfunkel race at Echuca on Sunday and closed off well from near last on the turn to run fourth. Yet to fire in three runs at Oakbank but looks in better form.

Race 6. (16:01) Harcourt Adelaide Hills Oakbank Cup 2150m

Back Me

1 Goldstream…(Bet Now: $5.00) if he can’t win here, he won’t be winning anywhere. Was hard in the market last time out in the Yarra Valley Cup and ran an absolute shocker when dropping out to finish down the track behind Berisha. Finds a very thin race here and gets John Allen on from an inside gate…surely he puts them away.

Danger

5 We’re So Lucky (Bet Now: $3.60) is a ripper for the Darryl Dodson camp and she should run well here. She copped serious on speed last time out in the Yarra Valley Cup yet to her credit she toughed it out really strongly and was only pipped late by Berisha. Has won at 2100m so the step up in trip shouldn’t be an issue and she’ll be out of trouble on speed.

Long Shot

9 Ace Attack (Bet Now: $7.00) comes through the Lieder race on Adelaide Cup Day. He was confidently backed to win and despite looking to bolt to the front at the top of the straight, he didn’t find much and just plugged away for third to the Michael Hickmott runner. Becoming very costly to follow, but he isn’t far off. Include him, but back him to win? You’re brave.

Race 7. (16:41) Triple M Country Cup (75) 1900m

Back Me

6 Connemara Rose (Bet Now: $11.00) for me in a very tricky staying contest. Stuart Padman trains this mare, who ran well in a maiden here last year so she has proven she can handle the track which is a big tick. Last start was over 2000m at Naracoorte where she was near the speed and fought hard all the way but was outgunned late by the well performed Halayr Rothestar. Back to 1900m looks ideal and looks well in at the weights.

Danger

9 Turfonic (Bet Now: $23.00) might come off a last start non tab win but he’s a proven performer in town and he finds a very winnable race here. The win two back at Gawler was very good before going to Streaky Bay a fortnight back and purely on times, it wasn’t the best of wins, but I’m going off the Gawler win and it was very good.

Long Shot

12 Meli Melo (Bet Now: $81.00) is a big, big watch here. Barry Brook trained mare that resumes at 1900m on her home track with no trials, and straight away that rings alarm bells that this has been a target race. Her form in the Spring was solid and last start she broke the maiden status in impressive fashion over 2100m at Gawler. Market watch strongly advised.

Race 8. (17:21) UBET Oakbank Stakes 1100m

Back Me

The Ken Sweeney camp love to target this race with their stable stalwart 4 Riziz (Bet Now: $4.20) and I think he’ll take some beating here. He stuck on really well last time out in the Matrice at Morphettville on Adelaide Cup Day when a close up third to It’s Been A Battle, and that form has been franked via Stellar Collision. Happy to be in his corner.

Danger

6 Benz (Bet Now: $3.20) isn’t the most reliable horse going around but his recent form does read quite well and overall, this isn’t a strong race. He attempted to lead all the way in the Abell a couple of Friday nights back at the Valley where that was the spot to be and he looked to travel well throughout but just had no answers for Whispering Brook. Back to 1100m at this level looks ideal.

Long Shot

Don’t be shocked to see the local 9 Nipperkin (Bet Now: $13.00) run well here on her home track. Good win first up before going to the Matrice where she got back and it was a race dominated by those near the tempo. She has an awesome winning strike rate and I reckon a fast run 1100m will be ideal for this Barry Brook mare.

Race 9. (18:00) Melt Pizzeria Handicap (64) 1050m

Back Me

10 Kabini (Bet Now: $5.50) is a Barry Brook trained filly who is first up here. She broke the maiden in a city benchmark race for the three year olds in early December, sitting off a fast pace and having last say to score. I think she’ll adopt similar tactics here and if they do go hard, look for her to ambush these the final 100m.

Danger

2 Akkacan (Bet Now: $4.00) has come back really well this time in, but just can’t quite crack it for a win. He ran over the 1000m on the Parks track a fortnight back and ran an okay third to Despatch, but clearly no match for that above average three year old. Draws to get a lovely run and Holder takes over.

Long Shot

1 Bryan (Bet Now: $13.00) is a gelding resuming for the in form Jarrod McLean team and his runners should always be respected when they come to SA. This horse hasn’t raced since November 9 when sitting off a fast speed and presenting at the right time to score a narrow but impressive victory. Can sprint well fresh and should get good cover.

Best Bets & Quaddie Tips

BEST BET: Race Six Number 1 Goldstream

NEXT BEST: Race Three Number 6 Mr Liberty

VALUE: Race One Number 7 Fibbers

 

Quaddie Tips (Races Six Through To Nine):

Leg One: 1

Leg Two: 1, 3, 6, 9, 12

Leg Three: 4, 6, 9, 10

Leg Four: 1, 2, 6, 10

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