THE DRAKE - I thought I had found one at big odds at Wyong on April 19 however storms late in the day forced the abandonment of the last two races and I didn’t get to find if I was on the mark with the John Sargent-trained The Drake, see our story here. Whilst the arguments presented in last week’s article are not evident on Thursday I am prepared to stick with The Drake in the Leo Pastega Memorial CG&E Class 1 Handicap (1200m). Although well beaten at Gosford resuming on March 29, The Drake was always wide without cover on speed and weakened badly at the finish. If we go back to his last run before spelling, we find The Drake impressively winning over the Gosford 1200m accounting for a subsequent metropolitan maiden winner in Montrachet. A repeat of that run on Thursday would see The Drake go close to winning.
LA COURBETTEV - will deservedly be sent to the naughty corner if I am wrong about La Courbette which must defy the statistics when she lines up in the Lake Illawarra Benchmark 65 Handicap (2000m). Historical statistics are an essential part of my punting armoury and with the Matthew Smith-trained mare asked to lump 62kg, the statistical database is the first place I looked for guidance. Not good, 52 horses have carried 62kg or more in the five-year-testing period for just three winners. The figures improve when the data is filtered to horses that have a chance as per the betting market, the top three in betting order and horses less than $10 provided the three winners however there were 22 qualifiers, so we have a genuine red flag with just a 13.6 percent winning strike rate. La Courbette put the writing on the wall last start chasing home the promising Temprado at the track and distance carrying 61kg and it is worth noting the third horse Hoof Hustler went to Kensington at his subsequent start to win a benchmark 70 handicap. It’s only a kilo more in weight for La Courbette isn’t it? If there is no article from this writer on Friday, you know why.
STRYKE ROCK - One of the better value chances of the day for me but not convinced I want to be on one drawn the inside gate on a track which has hosted 29 races in the past 19 days. That said, his form reads well for his assignment on Wednesday. Still a maiden after seven starts, Stryke Rock has come back a better horse this preparation and he’s knocking on the door. Resumed with a solid performance behind Leningrad at Canterbury early March in a race that’s produced two other individual winners then bumped into the smart Dissolution at Warwick Farm and that race has delivered another three winners. Last time out he was held-up in the early part of the straight when going to the line as well as anything but just coming up short behind Red Rover. Goes up to 1400m here which should suit, can be handy to the speed from the draw and his form is better than these.
PEMBROKE CASTLE - Talented juvenile colt resuming from a spell and the form from his only two starts reads well. On debut didn’t have the best of luck in running but kept finding the line when only beaten 2-1/4 lengths by Sizzling Belle and Outrageous, they both performed well over the past couple of months in black-type races during the carnival. At his only other run he got a long way back before making up good ground to finish third in the $250,000 Inglis Classic. Then went for a break and has looked good in his two trials leading up to this. I get the impression he’s the type of horse that will come back a much better racing proposition in his second campaign and he’s drawn to get a lovely run here around midfield. He can book a place in Chris Waller’s Queensland team here.
VELOCITA - Now for a shortie but I do think she can win. Velocita is a filly that’s come back in super order and her form reads well for her second-up assignment. The daughter of Sebring had form around two solid recent Stakes performers last prep – Higher Ground and Dark Dream and she returned from a spell, scoring a dominant win over Savacool. That filly, her stablemate, went to Melbourne and has since scored an impressive Saturday class win and being talked up as a genuine Australasian Oaks player at Morphettville on May 5. If Savacool is a Group I chance, so is this filly and she will show that on Wednesday against the older mares’. The good three-year-olds have been beating the older horses regularly this year and I expect Velocita to do the same on Wednesday.