Race 1 - 12:20PM KIA ORA PRAGUE HANDICAP (1100 METRES)
The Chris Waller-trained 6. Canara chased home Spywire on debut at the midweeks. He looks a smart prospect going forward. The concern is that the early favourite 2. Storm Boy will get the same level of control from the outset over the Rosehill 1100m, which is alarm bells for everything else in the field, but at the price, want to gamble that Canara can overcome that. The prospect of a soft track can only help.
Canara did a couple of little things wrong in the run but once she angled into the clear, she attacked the line. The winner held her comfortably but there was four lengths back to third which bodes well for it being a strong form reference going forward. Hopeful she can settle a pair closer. We've seen how significant the benefit of race experience can be with two-year-olds.
Dangers: 4. War Council was beaten 6.5 lengths in the Golden Gift on debut as a $101 chance. However, that doesn't tell the story. The Hawkes-trained colt drew wide and after being dragged back in the field he lost touch with the pack in the early stages. He clocked the fastest last 600m of the race. That's the strongest two-year-old form line we have to work off in Sydney at the moment, anything behind Shangri La Express. The negative with Storm Boy is the early price. Has won his two trials by a combined margin of nine lengths. Was a little surprised the overall time wasn't a little sharper in his most recent Warwick Farm trial win given the big margin. The Waterhouse and Bott stable is flying with their youngsters. Godolphin colt 3. Traffic Warden cruised to the line to win a recent Hawkesbury trial impressively.
How to play it: War Council to win
Race 2 - 12:55PM MIDWAY HANDICAP (2000 METRES)
3. Celestial Fury has been up since July but has never raced better. The five-year-old comes off a dominant Hawkesbury win, putting a gap on Domingo. He assumed control from the outset and was entitled to quicken but it was a strong win nonetheless. Prior to that, Rise To It got the better of him late. That winner subsequently beat Touristic at Rosehill in BM78 company. Three starts ago Celestial Fury raced in Midway company where his ninth is misleading. After being crossed from barrier 1, he was pocketed the entire straight before being eased out of the race late. The prospect of a soft track won't bother him and can't find a lot of early speed in Saturday's race so he'll get his chance to dictate again. Always respect the placement of trainer Nathan Doyle.
Dangers: Suspect 12. Let Me Reign was already looking for 2000m last start. She wasn't able to quicken over the mile having sat outside of the leader. Once headed she stuck on though. Out to 2000m now fourth up is perfect. Expect a positive ride to settle outside of Celestial Fury in the run. 6. Apache Belle is a sleeper that should run well at odds. Just has to cope with a drop back to 2000m. Like the depth of her form lines around Speycaster and Father's Day. The market will be the best guide with 5. Unamerican. He looks ready and has improved sharply out to this trip in the past. The barrier doesn't help his cause, however. 9. Brynner comes into this a last start winner at Canterbury.
How to play it: Celestial Fury to win
Race 3 - 1:30PM VALE RAY MARKEY HANDICAP (1800 METRES)
It's all still ahead of 7. Tavi Time. The Kris Lees-trained gelding has won four of his seven starts and had a hard luck story to tell first up. He made amends second up emphatically winning at Newcastle. That was despite doing a couple of things wrong in the run. There is arguably a touch more depth to this BM78 and he carries an extra 3kg but the dominance of his win two weeks ago suggested that the four-year-old would race through the grades. This looks a perfect progression out to 1800m now third up. Dylan Gibbons sticks and wouldn't think that Tavi Time would have to improve on what he did last start to win this too, his profile suggests that he will take another step off that again however. Stick with him.
Dangers: 8. Toesonthenose was given a perfect ride by Nash Rawiller last start and the five-year-old delivered. No reason to think that he won't hold that form now. 9. Irish Kisses comes through the same Midway as Toesonthenose, and made a stack of late ground from a wide draw. Turning the tables might be a stretch but he's a must for trifectas and first fours. 2. Unanimous ran out a strong 2000m at Kembla Grange last Saturday and relished getting his toe into the ground. A repeat of that might be enough to fight out the finish here too. The barrier doesn't do 1. Manbehindthemoney any favours first up but he's likely to improve again into his second Australian campaign. 12. Galaxy Belle has a knockout hope.
How to play it: Tavi Time to win
Race 4 - 2:05PM TAB HIGHWAY HANDICAP (1100 METRES)
1. Tanglewood looks grades better than a Class 2 sprinter. The Todd Howlett-trained four-year-old has only been seen at the races five times but he made a big impression when winning twice last time in. They were at Taree and Grafton in races he was expected to win as an odds on favourite but he won them by a combined margin of nine lengths, with gears still up his sleeve. That prompted Tanglewood to jump a well backed $2.30 chance in a midweek BM64 at Canterbury won by Silentsar. After being plated wide throughout he folded up to be beaten three lengths. Forgive him that. Todd Howlett has given the son of Smart Missile two trials, winning the first of those. Aaron Bullock sticks. Soft gate. Just has to lump 61kg but he's good enough to overcome that.
Dangers: 7. The Lions' Gate sees Matt Dunn and Nash Rawiller combine again. A formidable duo when it comes to Highway Handicaps at the moment. Has to come back to 1100m, which probably isn't ideal given the four-year-old won his maiden over 1350m and has had two runs back at 1200m but a soft track and gate could offset that. 2. Gallant Star is hard to get a read on. He is 40 weeks between runs with one trial under his belt. That trial was back in mid October. Lightly raced and has already measured up in Highway company when third behind Smokeshow and Iron Will back in January. 18. King Rupert should get the run of the race and comes off a dominant Scone win on soft ground. There was nothing between King Rupert and 10. Wilbury when they clashed at Coonamble.
How to play it: Tanglewood to win
Race 5 - 2:40PM DOYLE'S BREEDING AND RACING HANDICAP (1400 METRES)
2. Shadows Of Love is chasing three straight wins. The mare has to stretch to 1400m for the first time but the way she flattened out late to win at Kembla Grange last Saturday suggests it won't be a problem. Nor will the prospect of a wet track. The other weapon Shadows Of Love has in her arsenal is her versatility. That gives Tim Clark, who rode the four-year-old last Saturday too, the option to press on or take hold from the wide draw. Expect 6. Afterlight to be positively ridden early so Shadows Of Love could get a cart across. Kim Waugh has Shadows Of Love flying and although there is a touch more depth to this race compared to last week's and she rises 3kg, she only has to hold her form to be fighting out the finish again.
Dangers: Tardy getaways sees 5. Cross The Rubicon with just three wins from 19 starts. They've proved costly. Forgive her first up run over 1100m in a race where the leader walked early. Despite being beaten nearly seven lengths her last 600m was near 33 seconds flat. Matched it in much better company than this last campaign and a wet track makes her a big player at odds. 10. Chase My Crown finished on the heels of 1. Lekvarte at Newcastle and meets her 2.5kg better off. Can make a case for her to turn the tables. Lekvarte doesn't set up quite as well here with a big weight and on a soft track. Afterlight appears to relish the front running role. We'll find out if she can sustain it out to 1400m in Saturday company.
How to play it: Shadows Of Love to win
Race 6 - 3:20PM TAB COUNTRY CLASSIC (2000 METRES)
It was hard to miss the run of 4. Eaglemont in the Little Dance, coming from last to run sixth behind Spangler. Only the runner up Lion's Roar had a faster last 200m split. That should top him off perfectly for 2000m now. The Matt Dunn-trained import was strung up in the straight too and should have finished closer. Like the booking of Nash Rawiller. Imagine this has been a secondary target all along. Interestingly, Saturday will be the first time the seven-year-old has raced beyond a mile for Dunn. When trained in Ireland, Eaglemont placed out to 2400m and won over 2100m. That's his edge over 1. Akasawa. He's the one proven over the trip. Given the set up it's hard to see him doing anything but running well.
Dangers: Akasawa has a benchmark of 100. The 62kg looks plenty on paper but comparative to the rest of the field, the set weights conditions sees him exceptionally well placed. Akasawa comes through the Kosciuszko and the Big Dance. He finished midfield in both and was rated $21 and $14 chances in those respective races. Last campaign he put Unspoken to the sword at Scone. The queries come with the 2000m for the first time and whether he is more comfortable on top of the ground. His record suggests that soft tracks are fine but all three of those soft track starts were within his first four race starts. 6. Knife's Edge didn't get much room to let down in the Little Dance. He has blowout claims alongside 2. Our Bambino and 21. Devocean.
How to play it: Eaglemont to win
Race 7 - 4:00PM JAMES SQUIRE FESTIVAL STAKES (1500 METRES)
2. Rustic Steel has caught the eye in both runs back. He made late ground in the Sydney Stakes, beaten four lengths by I Am Me, before again doing his best work late in The Hunter. Wide gates have hurt. He was potentially flattered second up given the hectic tempo set by Coal Crusher up front but he was five weeks between runs there and only second up. Those two form references read well for this compared to his rivals. This has been a target race for Kris Lees all campaign, with the intention of backing up into the Ingham, and everything looks to have fallen into place. Perfect gate, a wet track and no Vilana, who has been scratched to run in Melbourne. He's a well exposed six-year-old now but looks to have returned as well as ever.
Dangers: Chris Waller's mare 5. Finepoint was posted three deep the trip first up in the Hot Danish Stakes and stuck on bravely. It was a sensational return behind Roots in a fast race. That win prompted Roots to start one of the favourites in the Railway Stakes. Barrier 1 poses a different problem here for Finepoint. Will need a clever ride. How the track is playing will be crucial. Expecting jockeys to want to get off the fence. 18. Tazaral improved sharply in his second Australian preparation and could go on with again this time back. Hopefully the first up run doesn't flatten 11. Military Expert, forced to cart the field up to Coal Crusher. Want to keep him safe.
How to play it: Rustic Steel to win
Race 8 - 4:40PM GREENLIFE STARLIGHT STAKES (1100 METRES)
1. Malkovich was scratched from the Warra at Kembla Grange last Saturday and that move could be vindicated. The speedster looks well set up to tackle this fresh. The Bjorn Baker-trained galloper shouldn't have too much trouble crossing to lead. That is significant given how one dimensional the 30-start sprinter is. He was first up last campaign having assumed control from the outset. A soft track would be perfect too. He doesn't want it any wetter. The six-year-old has always been an exceptional trialler but he's looked as sharp as ever in his two hitouts ahead of his return. Expect Rachel King, who has ridden Malkovich in three of his eight career wins, to make a beeline straight to the front. Catch me if you can.
Dangers: 3. Quick Tempo finds himself in career best form. He took the scalp of Iowna Merc two starts ago before hitting the line in the Warra behind Insurrection. He was forced to make a wide looping run there from the tail. His versatility gives Jason Collett options. Wouldn't be surprised to see him follow Malkovich across. 2. Dragonstone also back up from the Warra. He was first up there. Perhaps now a five-year-old the 1000m is a touch too sharp. Draws wide but he tends to drift back anyways. 8. Sneaky Paige didn't come up last campaign. Have to take her on trust but her two recent trials suggest that she is back to somewhere near her best. The market hasn't missed that though. 6. Conscript's best is good enough to give this a shake too.
How to play it: Malkovich to win
Race 9 - 5:20PM CHRISTMAS CUP (2400 METRES)
1. Sky Lab was met with plenty of support ahead of The Beauford last start. It looked a target race on his home track at Newcastle. He ran well, grinding home into third without an real excuse. What can see him potentially get back into the winners' circle on Saturday is a ran affected track. His record on good tracks reads 11:1-1-1. His record on soft tracks reads 14:3-4-1. It was perhaps the only missing puzzle piece for his Beauford mission. Its been 44 weeks now since the six-year-old has won but he couldn't get a better set up than the one that confronts him this week. Jason Collett sticks too. Sky Lab lumps the top weight but has proven himself capable of carrying similar. No excuses now.
Dangers: 2. Serpentine comes via the Melbourne Cup. He was beaten a long way but was sent around a $41 chance. He led and knocked up. The map makes him dangerous as he potentially gets control and has Adam Hyeronimus in the saddle. 4. Torrens beat home Sky Lab at Newcastle. Tends to race better at Randwick as opposed to Rosehill though. His last two runs read well for this. The good track was blamed for 3. Stockman's Beauford failure. The seven-year-old never looked comfortable. We'll get a better line on him after Saturday as he has been desperate for a wet track all campaign. Respect what 6. Parry Sound and 7. Dark Dream produced in the Beauford too.
How to play it: Sky Lab to win
Race 10 - 5:55PM BUY AN ARROWFIELD GRADUATE HANDICAP (1100 METRES)
1. Conrad has an excellent fresh record. The Kim Waugh-trained sprinter remains underrated too. He was unwanted first up last preparation but rocketed home into second behind Hypothetical at an on speed dominated meeting on the Kensington track. He then had excuses second up ay Wyong on a heavy track before bouncing back with an all the way win at Canterbury. His record tends to suggest that he is either in the finish or nowhere to be seen but on the strength of his past fresh form and how he has trialled ahead of his return, want to take the punt that we'll see the best of Conrad on Saturday. He has a terrific record over 1100m and a soft track shouldn't bother him. Easy case to make at double figure odds.
Dangers: 5. Billiondollarbaby will want the Rosehill track to be playing down the middle come the last race. The barrier is the biggest obstacle for her. Not sure where she gets to in the run. She's a very genuine mare and looked particularly sharp when winning a recent Hawkesbury trial. Godolphin have a strong hand with 8. Legio Ten, who also face a tricky map, and untapped three-year-old 16. Roussillon. Legio Ten races well fresh and finds Nash Rawiller. Roussillon wasn't beaten far in the Rosebud the last time we saw him race, finishing alongside subsequent Caulfield Guineas winner Griff. Gets in light against the older horses. 2. Sebonack is more dynamic on top of the ground. That's the knock but he raced without luck at Rosehill last start. He should have finished much closer.
How to play it: Conrad each way