Grafton tips: Trainer puts Victorem on backburner
TRAINER Jenny Graham is readying stable stars Victorem and Awesome Pluck for crucial barrier trial hit-outs next week in preparation for their assault on the $1.3 million The Kosciuszko at Royal Randwick next month.
Victorem, a brilliant winner of the 2018 Country Championships Final and a dual stakes winner last season, including the Listed Hinkler Stakes at his most recent start at Eagle Farm in June, is virtually assured of being selected by a slot-holder and is likely to go first-up into The Kosciuszko on Everest Day, October 19.
But Awesome Pluck hasn't raced since his third in a Country Championships heat at Port Macquarie in February and Graham conceded her talented gelding "needs to get his name out there" to attract interest from Kosciuszko slot-holders.
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"I think I will have to give Awesome Pluck a run before the Kosciuszko,'' Graham said.
"The problem is I am going to have to travel to do that. It won't be easy to find the right race in Sydney now the spring carnival is on, so I may have to take him to Brisbane.
"Victorem is easy to maintain and he's such a good, fresh horse, so I'm planning to go first-up into The Kosciuszko.
"But both horses are coming up really well and they will trial at Kempsey next week (September 18).
Victorem will have a second barrier trial before the Randwick race.''
Victorem is the early TAB Fixed Odds favourite at $4 for The Kosciuszko, while Awesome Pluck is on the fourth line of betting at $15.
At Grafton on Tuesday, Graham has three entries, including the handy Art Attack in the Ride Like A Girl Open Handicap (1610m).
Art Attack, who has seven wins and 15 placings from 45 starts, has been improved by two runs from a spell and wasn't beaten far when seventh to Tarbert over 1400m at Taree last month.
Graham said Art Attack's effort last start was good and the seven-year-old was close to regaining top form.
"He probably needs a little bit further but his last run was better than it looked,'' she said. "He should keep improving with racing.''
Graziano resumes for the Graham stable in the Maiden Handicap (1100m).
At his only previous start, the chestnut ran seventh in a juvenile race at Coffs Harbour in March.
Graham said that she was not quite sure what to expect from Graziano, although she was encouraged by the young sprinter's third in a recent barrier trial at Kempsey.
"Graziano is going to be a real nice horse but I just don't know if he is quite there mentally yet,'' she said. "I expect he will run a good race (today). The barrier (five) helps his chances.''
Verganza is among the main chances for the Benchmark 58 Handicap (2220m) but Graham said that the mare was not a certain starter.
"She's racing in good form and just missed out at Kempsey last start,'' Graham said.
"But I'm also looking at a Class 1 and Maiden at Tuncurry later in the week.
"I'm just going to see how the field comes up at Tuncurry and work out where she is best placed.''
BEST BETS FOR RAY THOMAS: GRAFTON
BEST BET: EDITORS (Race 6, No. 3)
Checked and held up for a few strides at the top of the straight before running on to just miss a place at Taree. Fitter for recent racing, in his right grade and drawn perfectly.
NEXT BEST: WINGED POET (Race 4, No. 1)
Only win from 17 starts was at this track and his recent form reads well for Tuesday. He is coming off five successive placings, including at Grafton last start when he ran up to win but couldn't hold off Miss Fraser. Back slightly in grade and gets his chance to score a deserved win.
VALUE BET: PENNY ROSA (Race 3, No. 3)
Weaved between runners and finished strongly to score on debut at Lismore, only to be disqualified after her rider weighed in light. Can make up for that luckless loss because she has drawn well and should get the run of the race.
BEST EXOTIC: QUADDIE
R5: 1, 3, 7. R6: 3, 7, 8. R7: 2, 4, 6, 7. R8: 1, 3, 5, 13.
JOCKEY TO FOLLOW: MATTHEW McGUREN
Has an outstanding book of eight rides. His best chances include Beyond Desire (R1), Winged Poet (R4), Exclusive (R5) and Spirit Of Cherokee (R7).
TRAINER TO FOLLOW: ALLAN KEHOE
Has four competitive chances at the Grafton meeting with Kiltaza (R2), Jackpot Telephone (R3), Tokyo Bullet (R5) and Zioptimus (race 8).
INSIDE MAIL WITH RAY THOMAS: PORT MACQUARIE
Beyond Desire made a long, sustained run and didn't shirk her task when chasing home a handy type in Fast Eva over 1530m at Murwillumbah. Lightly raced mare by Zoustar improving with every start. On the evidence of her last start effort, the step up to 1710m shouldn't pose a problem. Patriot Missile ran on well at Grafton for a close third over 1708m last start. Another improver and rates highly. Dr Mayhem ran well here last start but is still winless after 22 starts. There's Always One comes off a good effort to just miss at Grafton but he is still chasing his first win after 27 attempts.
BETTING STRATEGY: BETTING DESIRE TO WIN
Royal Factor hugged the rail like a greyhound to sprint through for a narrow barrier trial win at Murwillumbah in smart time two weeks ago. He also impressed winning a Gold Coast trial earlier last month. He resumes today after a debut fifth at Ipswich back in April but he looks primed for this race. The one to beat. All Up Tee Kay did enough at Ipswich when resuming and will strip fitter. He's been placing in two of his four starts but has drawn the extreme outside barrier. Bel Academy showed speed on debut at Taree but hung out on the turn before fading late for fifth. He can improve off that run and be competitive here. Kitchener is resuming after a long spell but he worked home nicely in a recent Muswellbrook.
BETTING STRATEGY: ROYAL FACTOR TO WIN, BOX TRIFECTA 1,2,3,5
Penny Rosa burst between runners and finished hard for an impressive debut "win" at Lismore late last month. However, her rider Tegan Harrison weighed in light and the mare was disqualified. Harrison was issued with a one-month ban which she is appealing. Penny Rosa has drawn ideally in barrier three and can win her maiden today. Jackpot Telephone was a little keen mid-race but moved up from the turn and looked set to score but couldn't get to Hurricane Max at Grafton. She was a beaten favourite last start but has been placed in three of her last four starts and is ready to win. Lonny Lonny is resuming off a long spell and is a big market watch. Sweet Kiara was competitive in a similar race here last start but is a little awkwardly drawn.
BETTING STRATEGY: PENNY ROSA TO WIN, SAVER ON LONNY LONNY
Winged Poet looks well placed to snap a frustrating sequence of minor placings. He has recorded five successive minor placings including her narrow loss to Miss Fraser over this course and distance last start. Racing in very good form and goes well on this track where he has a win and three placings from six starts. Emshalky finds it hard to win but ran her best race this campaign when a fast finishing third at Murwillumbah over 2020m last start. She might be suited over the 2220m trip. Real Time Warrior was freshened up before finishing down the track over 1516m at Lismore last start. He's better suited over this longer trip. Veganza just missed at Kempsey and is one of the main chances if she runs here as the stable may save her for Tuncurry on Friday.
BETTING STRATEGY: WINGED POET TO WIN
Seentomany has been competitive in Brisbane in recent starts including her close second at Eagle Farm two starts back. She's bringing the right formlines to this class 3 race today. Handy mare who looks placed to advantage but needs to overcome a wide draw. Exclusive gets back in his races but he has a strong finish as demonstrated with his two wins over this course and distance at his last three starts. Racing in very good form but is creeping up in the weights now. Golden Lily won well at the Sunshine Coast then was just behind the placegetters at that track last start. She's also in good form and was competitive in this grade last start. Tokyo Bullet is racing consistently and must be included in exotics.
BETTING STRATEGY: SEENTOMANY TO WIN
This looks a nice race for Editors. He struggled in the Coffs Harbour Cup but was much better last start, closing for fourth behind Tarbert at Taree. Editors was moving into the race on the turn when he was baulked for a run and should have finished much closer. Gets his chance today from the good draw and nicely placed at the weights after the claim. Mister Smartee finished in front of Editors last start when third in the Tarbert then tried hard at Kempsey behind Mister McIlroy. Drawn wide so it is advantage Editors. Kuttamurra Al is fitter for recent racing as is Art Attack although 1610m is short of his best.
BETTING STRATEGY: EDITORS TO WIN, QUINELLA 3,7
Slight leaning to Spirit Of Cherokee over Ohchebelcavallo. Spirit Of Cherokee has held his form over an extended period now with at least one run each month since February. He ran on well over 1005m at Grafton last start when third in similar grade and the slightly longer trip is in his favour. From barrier one, he should settle closer and prove hard to beat. Ohchebelcavallo won his maiden with conviction last start and could go right on with it now. Tis Toby is racing in very good form. He has good early speed and if he can negate his wide barrier without using up too much energy, he will take catching. Ragnor comes out of a tough Sunshine Coast maiden win.
BETTING STRATEGY: QUINELLA 4,6
Nicconi Lass was sent out as favourite at Port Macquarie and had to do a bit of work early to cross and eventually find the rail but she was always under pressure and it was no surprise when she tired late for fifth when resuming. She won second-up last time in and from the better draw today can land in front early and prove hard to catch. Sylvester got a couple of early checks and ended up a lot further back in the field before eventually working into sixth at Murwillumbah. He had plenty of excuses last start and is definitely worth another chance. Zioptimus was wide with cover and ran on at Port Macquarie to just miss a place last start. Gets in well after the claim. Hard to fault Ministry Of Fear's form after successive wins at Grafton.
BETTING STRATEGY: NICCONI LASS EACH WAY