LIKE A SHOT - A 2.5kg weight rise doesn’t look enough to stop the Keith Dryden and Scott Collings-trained Like A Shot recording successive wins at the Canberra Acton track. There was a $40,000 purse for the benchmark 65 handicap won by Like A Shot last start and the race attracted a strong field, however my class figures would suggest the XXXX Gold Benchmark 65 Handicap (1280m) on Friday from a class perspective is close to three-lengths weaker despite officially being the same grade which actually makes Like A Shot well-weighted being asked to carry 61kg. Matthew Cahill retains the ride and if Like A Shot is in the same form as his last start he will be winning.
THE BROWN ONE - With eight of her nine career wins coming on soft and heavy ground punters don’t need me to tell them that the Damien Lane-trained The Brown One is a genuine wet-tracker with the soft and heavy track record revealing a 33 percent winning strike rate from 24 starts on rain-affected going. The Brown One will be having her third run back from a break when the now eight-year-old mare lines up in the Ladies Day Sunday August 26 – Book Now Benchmark 60 Handicap (1100m) finishing in the placings on both occasions at Taree and Gosford last start. With 3kg claiming apprentice Chris Williams taking the ride, The Brown One looks well in with 57.5kg and with conditions to suit looks genuine value at $8.50 in early betting markets.
FINAL FRONTIER - Whilst not an out and out wet-tracker, the Paul Perry-trained Final Frontier is unlikely to be disadvantaged by the conditions when the three-year-old son of Nicconi lines up in the Membership At Wyong Only $55 CG&E Class 2 Handicap (1350m). A class two winner at the track and distance two runs back on a soft (5) racing surface, Final Frontier was always wide after launching from barrier 11 at Warwick Farm eventually finishing just over four-lengths from the winner Kurnel Jaxon last start. Jumping from barrier two on Thursday, Tim Clark should be able to position Final Frontier right behind the leaders with the run of the race and will just need a touch of luck finding clear running approaching the home turn. If the luck comes Final Frontier is the horse to beat.
PELLEGRINA - Originally trained by John Thompson, Pellegrina largely did her early racing at provincial venues and she did manage a maiden win at Hawkesbury from 10-starts for the Randwick trainer but if her last start win at Tamworth is any guide she has found her niche in the North Western NSW. A three-year-old daughter of Congrats, Pellegrina relished the drop in grade to win a class one and maiden plate at Tamworth at her first start for Melanie O’Gorman on May 15 racing over 1600m, hitting the line in a manner that suggests the filly won’t have any difficult stepping up in distance at Armidale on Tuesday. Pellegrina’s speed ratings compared favourably to the benchmark 60 winner on the day over the same journey which augers well for her prospects stepping up in grade on Tuesday with 54kg on her back in the Tamworth Servies Group / Glen Innes & District Services Club Benchmark 70 Handicap (1900m).
IWATANI - The Mark Hatch-trained Iwatani puts an unbeaten Armidale record on the line in the Clubs NSW Winter Dash (1100m). With a downhill run to the home turn and a short uphill straight, the ability to handle the track is an important factor at Armidale and with his record reading two from two at the track, Iwatani has certainly showed his ability to handle the tricky circuit. Iwatani carried 60kg to win at the track and distance three runs back and is a last start winner at Tamworth lumping 62kg in a benchmark 65 and doesn’t look badly treated with 56kg stepping up to open company as a six times winner. Drawn to get the gun run behind the leaders launching from barrier two, Iwatani just needs a touch of luck straightening on Tuesday to run down his rivals with the $6 in early betting markets looking considerable overs.