RACE 1 GOMMES SHOES MAIDEN 1:09 PM (1200M)
This $30,000 Metro Maiden is a seriously a tough start to the Bunbury season with a full 16-horse field and a heap of possibilities. And without a huge amount of confidence we decided to lock in debutante DISTANT TRILOGY on top after an impressive trial victory at Lark Hill on September 26, when travelling on the bridle in transit and covering the ground stylishly late to easily account for subsequent Belmont placegetter ANNE BOLEYN. The Tom Widdeson-trained four-year-old, who is out of Widdeson’s former top racemare Grasspatch Girl, has the services of in-form apprentice Andrew Castle and with a clean getaway should be able to land somewhere in the first six/seven in running from the low draw. DISTANT TRILOGY powered to the line in his trial win and if he lets down in a similar fashion here then he’s going to take some beating. HILLBERT was hard in the market ($3.30) first up at Northam last start and competed well enough against Gifted Warrior, who appears to have plenty of ability. Lark Hill trial beforehand was smart, so he’s obviously in good order, and we expect to see him improve with that hit-out under his belt. After a smart Lark Hill trial win, SISTAKINI was very well supported ($2.70) on debut and did a pretty good job to finish third chasing a fast tempo. High draw makes things interesting but we still expect to see her strong through the line, while first starter NEW AGE comes through the same trial as DISTANT TRILOGY and this well-related mare will do doubt maker her presence felt on debut.
Suggested Bet: (8) DISTANT TRILOGY each way.
RACE 2 BANK OF QUEENSLAND HANDICAP 1:50 PM (2000M)
Very hard to go past rapidly improving mare DANEHILLS DAUGHTER after her four race winning streak came to an end with a high-quality second placing in the Kalgoorlie Cup, coming from second last in a super-fast race to get within 1-1/2 lengths of seasoned staying mare Shinta Mani. The Steve Rowe-trained five-year-old was a revelation in the winter, charging through the grades, and showed her class when rising to the occasion in the Goldfields, positioning herself as a stayer capable of perhaps heading down a Perth Cup path. 3kg claiming apprentice Fred Kersley should be able to ride DANEHILLS DAUGHTER patiently, just as she likes it, and providing he keeps her out of trouble, and maintains momentum on the turn, then we can’t see any of her rivals being able to match her late. Tough bugger SONNEN got the victory he well-and-truly deserved at Belmont last Saturday week after a serious of luckless outings to kick off his preparation. Got all the favours for a change last time and cashed in accordingly, and we expect him to see another super-competitive performance from him here. COULEUR BIZARRE appears to be building nicely towards a peak performance and will appreciate stepping up to a middle-distance after back-to-back mile outings. Did win three 2200-metre Saturday events in a row at Ascot during the autumn, so he’s no slouch and this looks a nice option for him on the seven-day back up, while SOMEDAY ONE DAY ran out of his skin in all three Goldfields cup races and if he can replicate that form back with Justin Warwick then he’s going to give this a shake.
Suggested Bet: (1) DANEHILLS DAUGHTER to win.
RACE 3 WESTERN MEAT PACKERS HANDICAP 2:33 PM (1400M)
Interesting Graduation 62+ event here and we have plenty of time for REVEILLE and are prepared to give her another opportunity after performing below expectations first up last Saturday week. Looked the goods when competing in the hot Salorsci trial at Belmont on September 18, however, after following the winner Cash On Call in transit last start, the Dan Morton-trained mare didn’t let down as anticipated and was found to be mildly lame post-race. REVEILLE showed above average ability when winning three and placing at two of her five starts during her first racing campaign during the autumn, defeating the likes of A Knight Of Pro, Elegant Blast, Jackpot Prince and Minus Looks, and we’re confident that if she produces her best second up here then she’s going to be too good for these. REVEILLE to bounce back hard. PARADING has his share of ability and hasn’t done a lot wrong all campaign, including a game last-start performance when chasing home the hard-running New Time. Did finish third behind Quilista and Variation in the Rangeview Stud Classic at his only previous outing over the Bunbury 1400 metres, and the race fit/in form PARADING has to be respected. Peters Investments three-year-old ACTION couldn’t have been more impressive when winning on debut and will more than likely start a well-supported favourite, however, it is a big leap stepping up from a maiden victory into this grade second up. We’d like to see him do it first against some hardened/seasoned opposition and are prepared to risk him, while ANOTHER VISION is racing very well and will relish being back on her home deck.
Suggested Bet: (4) REVEILLE win & place (i.e. 1 x 3 units).
RACE 4 SOUTH WEST ISUZU HANDICAP 3:08 PM (1675M)
Another competitive Graduation 62+ Handicap here and we’re liking the looks of the free-wheeling TRAP FOR FOOLS, who is returning to metropolitan racing after successive middle-distance victories on the provincial circuit. Despite coming back significantly in distance, the Lindsey Smith-trained four-year-old has the ability to begin well and stride forward to lead again for in-form 3kg claimer Tayla Stone, and he should be able to control the tempo from there. Rock-hard-fit with four runs under his belt, Stone will be eager to roll along with TRAP FOR FOOLS and make it testing mile, and if she can execute the game plan then this promising customer is going to be mighty hard to run down late. KIA ORA STAR followed up his strong maiden triumph with a game second placing in a high-pressure affair in this grade on September 23, doing a lot of heavy lifting before getting rolled by the swooping Prize Catch late. That was some effort from KIA ORA STAR and showed he is a horse with considerable depth, so despite his inexperience we’re confident he’s a major player in this. Former Victorian WARRIOR OF JUSTICE is well-regarded and displayed some impressive qualities when getting the job done as a $1.90 favourite first up at Belmont recently. We are a bit put off by the leap from 1200 to 1675 metres second up, which is not usually a recipe for success, but if anyone can pull it off it is Team Williams, while FIRST AFFAIR is racing well and was most unlucky not to salute last start.
Suggested Bet: (4) TRAP FOR FOOLS each way.
RACE 5 STELSCO HIRE HANDICAP 3:45 PM (1200M)
More competitive racing coming up here and we found this Graduation 62+ very difficult to assess. Eventually we opted for the fast-finishing YOUNG GINA, who looks well suited coming back to the 1200 metres after a strong run-on performance in a high-pressure 1400-metre assignment three weeks back. Prior to that result, the Team Williams-prepared four-year-old came from near last and clocked standout sectionals to defeat smart types Multiverse and Atlanta Blue, reminding everyone of his closing speed after a couple of flat runs to kick off his preparation. Quality jockey Glenn Smith jumps on for the first time, with William Pike committed to FORCEFUL, and we’re under the impression that if Smith can keep YOUNG GINA out of trouble and within striking distance swinging for home, then none of these will be able to match motors with him late. Exciting three-year-old VITAL DANCER is the interesting runner, taking on the older horses as a Plan B after finishing up first emergency in the TABtouch-Bunbury 3YO Classic. This youngster showed plenty of dash as a juvenile and really let rip late when winning a Lark Hill trial in fast time recently. The high draw has to be a concern, but VITAL DANCER appears well above average and with even luck in running will run a mighty race first up. Former eastern stater CRUACHAN endured mixed fortunes in his first WA campaign, however, his first-up Pinjarra win back on June 15 was pretty damn sharp. Was doing his best work late in a recent Belmont trial and the blinkers have been added to sharpen him up for this 1200-metre fresh assignment, while local mare BIG CAROLINE has been racing well without winning this prep and looks set to enjoy a nice run in transit, jumping from a low draw back on her home track.
Suggested Bet: (3) YOUNG GINA each way.
RACE 6 HANNAGAN BASSETT FINANCIAL SERVICES HANDICAP 4:20 PM (1400M)
This has to be one of the most anticipated contests on the card with some high-quality new season four-year-olds taking on some established/seasoned campaigners, and we feel as though this is the race that stamps FINAL SALUTE as a serious player in the upcoming Ascot carnival. One of the better three-year-olds in WA last season, the now Adam Durrant-trained FINAL SALUTE jumped off-the-canvas to turn certain defeat into a nose victory first up three weeks back, edging out the talented and very much in-form Diablerie. Slugging it out in that fashion will have provided FINAL SALUTE with a strong fitness platform heading into this second-up assignment, and he looks really well placed dropping 4kg and jumping from a low draw. If he’s going to beat VARIATION then this is his chance, and FINAL SALUTE really ticks a lot of boxes for us. Bullish. The outstanding VARIATION makes his return to racing after a sparkling three-year-old season that saw him win two Guineas’ and be judged the best of his age group at the WA Racing Awards. Trialled well enough at Lark Hill on September 26, but he does have a few negatives first up here and appears a little vulnerable to us. 59.5kg from a tricky draw, with apprentice Randy Tan in the saddle, is certainly a challenging scenario for VARIATION, but this guy is all class and he has proven (time and time again) that he’s a horse that should never be underestimated. Tough on-pacer KEY TO FAME looks perfectly placed third up here after two competitive performances in black-type company to kick off his spring campaign. Gets better with racing so should be trending towards a peak performance, and we expect to see him lead and take some catching, while TONTO has caught the eye in two lead-up trials and did place third behind Heart Starter and Chocolate Holic first up in this race last year.
Suggested Bet: (10) FINAL SALUTE to win.
RACE 7 TABTOUCH-BUNBURY 3YO CLASSIC 4:55 PM (1000M)
What a race! Congrats to the Bunbury Turf Club and the industry participants for assembling such an outstanding three-year-old feature sprint, and to highlight the depth of this event our initial assessments came up with about 10 winning chances. After a fair bit of head-scratching we decided to settle on EPIC GREY, who will be stepping out for the first time in 42 days since posting his second Belmont victory in a week in early September, getting the better of sharp filly Saturia. We really like the way this fellow carries himself and covers the ground, and while the 1000 metres is certainly not his optimum distance, we’re confident he has the class to absorb pressure early-and-middle and still be strong on the line late. Appears destined for big things and this could be the starting point of a huge spring/summer for EPIC GREY. Rapidly-emerging FATHER KNICK faces a steep rise in class after a third straight win in Belmont midweek company recently, but comes into this with a significant race-fitness edge and maps to get a soft run in transit. William Pike hopping on certainly can’t hurt and while FATHER KNICK is a bit of a wild child, he did race a lot more tractably last start. Ticks plenty of boxes. Quality individual ACHERNAR STAR makes his three-year-old return after a brilliant juvenile season that saw him place in both the Karrakatta Plate and Magic Millions Classic. Stretched out well enough in a recent Lark Hill trial, and gives himself every chance by beginning well and being able to race up on top of the speed. We expect to see him cross and lead, and by mighty hard to run down late, while stablemate OCEAN JEWEL sizzled when winning first up last Saturday week. Sectionals were outstanding on that occasion and we envisage she will be powering home again late.
Suggested Bet: (3) EPIC GREY each way.
RACE 8 QUBE PORTS & BULK HANDICAP 5:30 PM (1200M)
Very excited to see the return of super talent ROYAL STAR but the early fixed odds (approx. $1.65) have us looking for something to knock her off, and we think DIABLERIE is the horse capable of doing so. The Bruce Watkins-trained five-year-old is a fierce competitor and doesn’t know how to run a bad race, and he looks set to enjoy the perfect passage in transit from his low draw. DIABLERIE should have a head-start on ROYAL STAR swinging for home and has the acceleration to make life difficult for any horse trying to come from behind him. Boom four-year-old ROYAL STAR looks ready to rip first up after two smart Lark Hill trial performances, but she’ll really need to be on point to salute here, jumping from a high draw over a less than ideal 1200 metres. Her opposition are not slouches either, so good luck to those willing to tumble in at the odds on, and we’ll find out a lot more about ROYAL STAR here. Tough hombre INFATHUATED is a horse we have plenty of time for and we really appreciate the way he makes his own luck by racing up on top of the speed. Appeared to take the next step last campaign when finishing second behind Great Shot in the listed Old Comrade Stakes, beating home Man Booker, and his two lead-up trials have been impressive. INFATHUATED will no doubt stride forward for 3kg claimer Fred Kersley and we wound’t be surprised to see him run a bold race fresh, while WAR JEUNE was super behind Floyd in a high-pressure assignment first up last Saturday week and is a horse with considerable upside. May be looking for further than 1200 metres, but with a cleaner getaway here he’s capable of racing on-speed and making his presence felt.
Suggested Bet: (6) DIABLERIE win & place (i.e. 1 x 3 units).
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the Bunbury Turf Club.