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The Grafton Carnival reaches its peak on Thursday with the Grafton Cup (2350m) the feature across a bumper eight race program. The weather is fine, the track is soft (5) and the rail is in the true position for the entire circuit.

Grafton Cup 🏆: View the Field for the Grafton Cup


Race 1. (12:15) Fidelity Capital (bm66) 1000m

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Back Me

Not easy to win four on the bounce no matter the location but I think it can be done here via the Michael Costa trained 4 Aceplay (Bet Now: $4.00). Two of the three have come at Toowoomba where he has the A1 run in transit and been too good, but the win in between at Murwillumbah was outstanding I thought, sitting four wide no cover on speed yet was still too good. He’ll do me.


1 Kiss My Swiss (Bet Now: $4.60) can be a big improver here back in grade/depth. Joe Cleary trained mare that resumed in a Federal at Canberra where she showed super early speed to lead them up but just went too quick and had little left for the straight when down the track behind Polar Star. Suited back to this level and the claim certainly helps.

Long Shot

6 Call Me Brad (Bet Now: $35.00) is certainly capable of measuring up here and keep in mind, he was less than two lengths from them in the Kirby last year. I’d be forgiving of his run at Scone last time out. Was no cover on speed for the duration and couldn’t figure in the finish behind Upper East Side. If he runs up to anything near the Kirby effort last year, he wins this. Just want to see him do it.

Race 2. (12:50) The Bidfood Hcp (c1) 1400m

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Justin Blanch looks to have a smart mare on his hands in the shape of 4 Auntie Monnie (Bet Now: $6.50). Produced great overall splits to win on debut over 1000m at Tamworth before going there again where she found a heavy track and tried very hard when a close up second to Patagonian. Jumping straight to 1400m interests me, but has a soft gate and stable finds Andrew Atkins.


3 Enterprise Keren (Bet Now: $2.60) is a John Shelton trained filly that is on her home track on the biggest day so you’d expect her to be 100% ready to go, and no reason to suggest she isn’t after a last start spank job in a Ballina maiden, beating Hollywood Dreaming, who came out to win last week at Murwillumbah, so the form reads okay. Will need a good ride from the gate though.

Long Shot

The winning chances of 5 Toots Is Tops (Bet Now: $13.00) will be determined by how much she takes advantage of gate one. Was a month between runs when racing over 1200m here on John Carlton Day where she was back near last in the run but made up plenty of ground in a very good effort. Really hard to beat if gate one is used.

Race 3. (13:25) Tab Mother's Gift 1400m

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6 Simply Sacred (Bet Now: $2.15) to get the win on the board. She did win at this track/distance last time out and was impressive in winning, but Ben Looker weighed in light, so she was disqualified. Tick over trial last week at Murwillumbah was very good and she appears spot on for this assignment. Very hard to beat against these.


2 Axella (Bet Now: $2.80) is on the quick back up for Matty Dunn after winning last week at Murwillumbah in a much easier race than this. Don’t know if it was ordinary riding from the others, or a peach from Atkinson. Whatever the case, the mare got a dream run through the field, found the best part of the track and spanked them. Clearly harder here, but she’s hard fit and now has form.

Long Shot

I don’t know what Ross Stitt can do with 4 But I Know (Bet Now: $9.00). She’s been teasing to win one this time in, but gee she’s been disappointing her past few and she has been well supported a few times so she’s clearly showing something at home. My thinking might be that back in trip, they’re starting again with an eye towards the Taree Cup in August. Hopefully will get back and finish off strong.

Race 4. (14:05) Nbn Springboard To Fame 2yo 1200m

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The obvious does look to be 5 Murungal (Bet Now: $3.90) for Con Karatkatsanis, who is having a fat Grafton Carnival. This colt was probably put in races that were too hard for him, but the stable dropped him back to a lovely maiden here on John Carlton Day and despite sitting wide no cover, he was far too good. Up to 1200m looks ideal, gets run of the race behind the speed and is the one they have to beat.


4 Full Press (Bet Now: $10.00) is a huge watch here. Son of Press Statement on debut for the Brett Dodson team. Bit surprised they didn’t keep him on ice and found a race during the Coffs Carnival, so the fact they debut in this race does seem a positive lead of what they think of him. Loved his trial win here. Tardy away, but given a dig in the ribs to sit wide and gee he cruised under Wilson-Taylor. He has enough speed to hold up from gate one and is a huge market watch.

Long Shot

13 No Laughing Matter (Bet Now: $8.00) is a Kris Lees trained filly that was just fair on debut at Tamworth before going to Port Macquarie where they showed good intent early to find the front and she kept going in an impressive win. Clearly harder here from the wide gate, but always have to respect the stable with their juveniles.

Race 5. (14:40) Corbett Earthmoving P/l Mdn 1200m

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Back Me

1 Yulong Base (Bet Now: $2.70) for me. Had his first run for Cody Morgan at Scone over 1100m when hard in the market as favourite and on face value, you have to save he had every chance to win when second to Cecilia. Only had one soft trial leading in so you’d like to think there is improvement to come and this isn’t a strong maiden despite the prizemoney on offer.


It’ll be interesting to see what Colt Prosser does with 2 Highbury (Bet Now: $4.00), formerly with Gerald Ryan and I’d assume was purchased via an online sale. Showed some promise when trained by Gerald and wasn’t far off a city win. Horrible gate to work with but stable finds Bossy to steer and has a few gear changes so I’d watch the market.

Long Shot

Bit surprised there is double figures on offer for 4 Dante Alexander (Bet Now: $11.00). Jeremy Gask trained galloper who is going really well and is bursting to win one. Last couple of runs have come in pretty tidy Class One events, two back behind More Than A Samba before going to Scone when second to Melik, who I think is a Highway class horse. Back to maiden company, just needs luck from the gate.

Race 6. (15:20) Village Green Hotel Plate (c6) 1200m

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Back Me

Surely 14 Snow Valley (Bet Now: $4.80) has the A1 form to beat these. Admittedly it’s been a long time since she has won but in saying that, this is comfortably the easiest race she has contested. I’d be willing to scrap her last three runs in Sydney because they have come at Randwick wet tracks and it’s well known that a Randwick wet is bottomless wet. Just needs luck from the gate and she wins I think.


I think Todd Howlett will have 2 Two Big Fari (Bet Now: $2.50) wound up and ready to go here given he is a horse who is certainly in the mix for the Kosciuszko and with tickets on sale, Howlett will want to make sure punters have his horse fresh on their mind. He did a remarkable job last prep, graduating from a Tamworth 58 to running a brave fifth in the Country Championship Final. Loved the trial win and another that will take some beating with luck from the gate.

Long Shot

4 Vacate (Bet Now: $15.00) should be suited back to this company. Tried to force his way into the field for the Ramornie via a win in the John Carlton but he didn’t measure up at all behind Exclusive in what was a fast run 1200m. This looks more his level and an overall drop in depth. Can see him running a much improved race at odds.

Race 7. (15:55) Grafton Cup 2350m

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Back Me

1 Sixties Groove (Bet Now: $3.90) looks the pony to bet on. He’s flying I think. Forget he went around behind Wu Gok two back when wide no cover before going to the McKell Cup where he was ridden negatively and worked home strongly when second to Frankely Awesome. Eats up 2350m here and bit of rain, not too much, certainly wouldn’t hurt.


2 Carzoff (Bet Now: $4.20) is knocking on the door to win one. Beat all bar Wu Gok in the Winter Cup two back before going to the McKell Cup where he was there to win under a lovely ride from J Mac but found one too good in Frankely Awesome. Back up in trip I do like for him and stable should always be respected in these Country Cups.

Long Shot

A rise in trip will suit 3 Big Duke (Bet Now: $10.00). He wasn’t too bad first up in the Lord Mayors Cup before having a freshen up into the McKell Cup and to the eye, he was poor, but I think he was a bit too fresh and keen in the run. He’ll be suited back up in trip…been nearly three years since he has won, so couldn’t back him to win with confidence, but is one for multiples.

Race 8. (16:35) Sir James Kirby Qlty 1000m

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Back Me

2 Akasaki (Bet Now: $10.00) is over four weeks between runs for Stephen Jones since racing over 1000m at Eagle Farm where he was specked at a price and arguably should have filled a place. Just got held up for a few strides before eventually getting clear and finding the line well to run fourth. Got the ability to win. Think the track condition will be key though. Firmer the better.


4 All Cylinders (Bet Now: $2.70) is a Peter Robl trained three year old that resumes. Absolute speed demon that will make sure this is a proper 1000m contest. Two trials, both over 740m, have been very good and he looks in good order. I think 1000m at this level might be a stretch but he’s got early toe and will look the winner for a fair way.

Long Shot

6 Tardis (Bet Now: $11.00) is an Ed O’Rourke trained mare that had her first run for the new stable at Eagle Farm a few weeks ago when on speed and trying hard but couldn’t finish it off in a disappointing effort behind Solar Star. Overall, she’s been really disappointing this prep, but her best is good enough to be around the mark.

Best Bets & Quaddie Tips

BEST BET: Race Six Number 14 Snow Valley

NEXT BEST: Race Seven Number 1 Sixties Groove

LONG SHOT: Race Eight Number 2 Akasaki


Quaddie Tips (Races Five Through To Eight):

Leg One: 1, 2, 4, 6, 11

Leg Two: 14

Leg Three: 1

Leg Four: 1, 2, 4, 6

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