Raceday focus: Bathurst and Queanbeyan
HAWKESBURY trainer John Higgins is in a positive frame of mind with Don't Judge Me and Kingston ahead of Monday's Bathurst meeting.
Don't Judge Me lines up in a Maiden Plate (1208m) after a close fifth at his home track last start.
The fact he's dropping in grade, and he finished second at Bathurst two starts back, has Higgins confident he can run a big race.
Higgins wants him ridden more conservatively from barrier nine after he settled in second last start from an inside draw.
BEST BETS WITH BRAD DAVIDSON
BEST BET: BAAED (Race 5, No. 11)
Started favourite on debut at Hawkesbury and it was just a sit and sprint that was dominated by the first two in running. The sixth horse out of that race has come out and won a maiden since and he should be able to hunt up from the inside draw and looks hard to beat.
NEXT BEST: MERAKI MISS (Race 7, No. 1)
I loved her trial behind some smart horses at Wellington recently. Her form has been mixed in the past but she showed good speed in the trial and should be hard to catch around Bathurst.
BEST ROUGHIE: QUIETLY CONFIDENT (Race 2, No. 4)
Likely to get back but he can get to the outside and have last say here. He is one from one at this track.
BEST EXOTIC: QUADDIE
1st leg: 3,4,1. 2nd leg: 11,7. 3rd leg: 11,3,4,8. 4th leg: 1.
JOCKEYS TO FOLLOW: GREG RYAN and MATHEW CAHILL
Both jockeys have a solid book of rides at Bathurst.
"He played up badly in the stalls at Hawkesbury last start and he chased the leader, which I don't think is the way to ride him," he said. "The 1200m and Bathurst will suit him and I don't think the barrier will make much difference.
"I want him to be running fourth or fifth and not going after the leader. He's in the right race and he's fit and well."
Don't Judge Me has raced at his best this time, landing two placings, but Higgins thinks he will need to be at his best fourth up to win considering Joe Pride and Bjorn Baker have runners in the race.
"The form behind him is good but there are still a couple in this race who go well," Higgins said.
"It's not easy in the bush now. He ran second to a Gary Portelli horse, who won its next start then ran well at Newcastle after it.
"I think he's a chance."
Kingston is the stable's other runner on the card in a Class 1 Handicap (1108m), and the former Gai Waterhouse/Adrian Bott runner is first-up from an eight-week let-up. He won his lead-up trial at Hawkesbury over 760m with Ashleigh Borg on and she again rides him.
"I didn't want to win the trial but it turned out that way," Higgins said. "I thought it was a good trial but some of the others in it had ability. I'm trying an apprentice, which is why I got her to ride him in the trial.
"I've been running him fresh and he's probably a good chance too because I think he has improved a lot."
Late last year the Arlington five-year-old was battling away at Nowra. He has come a long way since that last placing and Higgins puts it down to his frame of mind - and the fact his legs are in better shape after racing him only every five or six weeks.
"He's a nice horse and I think the breaks have done him good," Higgins said.
"He's out in the yard all the time now and not in a box and he can walk around more. Since he has been in the yard for the past four months he's got better.
"He's a beautiful-looking horse and his legs are good. He has a bit of fight and I think he will run a good race."
Higgins said his two runners were nice each-way chances.
"They're both pretty hard to split but I think Don't Judge Me will come on," he said.
QUEANBEYAN: MARE SLOWLY REDEEMING HERSELF
By Shayne O'Cass
WARWICK Farm mare Redeemable took 15 starts to shed her maiden status but trainer Marc Conners is confident she can now go back-to-back on Monday.
The daughter of Darley's Group 1 winner Skilled was given a gem of a ride by Winona Costin to post an impressive victory in a mile race at Queanbeyan on September 10.
What made Redeemable's win more significant was that she beat Class 1 horses, albeit aided by the "run of the race" from barrier three.
"She put the writing on the wall at the start before at Muswellbrook, where I thought the run was really good over 1500m,'' Conners began.
"So the extra 100m at Queanbeyan made all the difference. She looked like she was just warming up, which is a good thing, so we are going to test her now and see how she goes over the 2000m.
"She had been showing me in her work that she was getting a bit dour, so hopefully that will show (Monday).
"She got a good ride when she won. Hopefully we can get one again this time, but I don't know if we can because he has drawn a bit awkwardly.
''I don't know if these sort of horses improve a lot but she has trained on nicely. It hasn't done her any harm, that's for sure.''
Brendan Ward partners Conners' other runner on the card today, Power Of Destiny son Skaldak, who will still be searching for his first win when he has his 10th outing in the Homestead Press Maiden Plate over 1460m.
The gelding comes off a career-best performance when a half-length second at Gundagai to the handy Tobermory on September 9.
"Maybe the 1400m first-up just sort of told a little bit,'' Conners said. "I was really encouraged by the run because he had to do it a little bit tough when he was flushed out early and put into the race.
"I thought the outside horse was going to win that day but he beat him off.
"It was the leader who kicked and beat him on the line. There were plenty of positives out of the race.
"I think he will improve on that run and be hard to beat. "
INSIDE MAIL WITH BRAD DAVIDSON: BATHURST
5. D'Oro Rain has had a couple of nice trials leading into this and the Bjorn Baker-Greg Ryan combination is normally one to follow at Bathurst. She should settle in the first few and go close. 4. Catia looks the danger and she was good on debut at Gosford. She showed speed, took the sit and finished off well and gets the blinkers on here. She just needs an ounce of luck early from the gate. 6. Talisker Skye's trial was OK and she looks next best.
BETTING STRATEGY: QUINELLA 5,4.
4. Quietly Confident draws an OK gate to get back, get to the outside and have last crack here. He is one from one at this track. 3. Kormaddie should be able to find the front despite a bit of speed drawn inside. He will give a kick at the top of the straight and it's just a question of whether he can hang on the last 200m. 1. Tony's Reward is a consistent type who has won two from two here. He does have to lump the 62.5kg here though.
BETTING STRATEGY: QUIETLY CONFIDENT LOOKS THE VALUE HERE.
3. The Flying Scot beat all bar Song And A Prayer at Dubbo last start and that horse has a bit of ability. He should get a good run from barrier one and should go close. 5. Ellie Beach is coming off a long break but her last two runs would have her going very close here. It's just whether she is fit enough with just one soft official trial. 1. Battle Fury will strip fitter second up after hitting a wet track at Goulburn fresh.
BETTING STRATEGY: THE FLYING SCOT TO WIN.
Tricky race this. 3. Shadow Of Mordor was well held at Goulburn last start but he did run placings at Newcastle and Hawkesbury earlier this preparation. The drop in distance should suit. 4. Captain Americain has been racing OK and gets another chance here, while 1. Garros should be prominent in the run and just needs to run out the trip.
BETTING STRATEGY: SHADOW OF MORDOR TO WIN.
11. Baaed started favourite on debut at Hawkesbury and it was just a sit and sprint that was dominated by the first two around the bend. The sixth horse out of that race has come out and won a maiden since and he should be able to hunt up from the inside draw and looks hard to beat. 7. Maid In Malan wasn't too far away at Gosford first-up and she will better for the experience. She did start long odds that day though. 2. Don't Judge Me looks next best but Baaed should be hard to beat.
BETTING STRATEGY: BAAED TO WIN.
The scratching of Grand Theft Auto makes this tricky. 11. Sugar Lane gets a 5.5kg swing on 3. Panuara here and there was less than a length between them at Moree last start. 4. Leap Of Legend best of the rest, while 8. Not A Sound has trialled up OK and also has claims.
Betting strategy: Quinella 3,11.
Looks a nice race for 1. Meraki Miss and I loved her trial behind some smart horses at Wellington recently. Her form has been mixed in the past but she showed good speed in the trial. She should lead these and if she is anywhere near her best, she should be hard to beat. 3. Kingston and 5. See Me Out look the dangers but Meraki Miss should be hard to beat.
BETTING STRATEGY: MERAKI MISS TO WIN.