MEGA D’ORO - I tipped him when having his first start first start for the Tracy Simmons stable and he ran last but improved last start to run on well in a Class 6 over 1200m at Townsville behind Space Time. Mega D’Oro has been up a while but Lachlan Dodds stays on, claims 2kg and the step up to 1560m may suit. When in Victoria he developed a bold front running style and if the rider lets him roll along he may be hard to run down.
ANOTHER PLAN - There was enough in the maiden win of the Brett Cavanough-trained Another Plan to suggest the four-year-old can handle the rise in grade when he contests the City Of Dubbo Club Members Memorial Class 1 Handicap (1400m). Having his second start in a race, Another Plan had plenty on a maiden field at Coonamble on March 12 going straight to the front and racing away to win by more than three-lengths. A couple of winners have come out of the race to add merit to the form albeit at non-tab meetings and there is still plenty of scope for improvement for Another Plan. Another Plan has the early speed to take advantage of the inside barrier draw and will take plenty of running down again despite the class rise.
VALATIA - There haven’t been too many gear changes in the 39-start career of the Scott Thompson-trained Valatia who will have the blinkers back on when he contests the Dubbo RSL Sunset Bistro Benchmark 55 Handicap (1600m). Valatia wore blinkers for the first time on March 12, 2015 at his sixth career start with the gear change getting immediate results when the gelding won his maiden over the 1600m at Dubbo. Blinkers remained a part of Valatia’s gear as the now seven-year-old won an additional three races during the next three years with the blinkers coming off on March 6 and once again the change in gear was successful with Valatia winning over 1600m at Scone. After two subsequent unplaced runs at Dubbo and Scone the blinkers go back on for Friday’s assignment. Just maybe Valatia needs the gear changes to put his mind on the job nowadays, at $13 I am happy to have something on to see if we are on the right path.
BALIUS - With Stewards posting a soft (7) surface for racing at Coffs Harbour on Friday proven wet track form is obviously an advantage and that’s the case with Balius which lines up in the Pier Hotel Benchmark 60 Showcase Handicap (1600m). Trained at the Gold Coast by Brad Witt, Balius will be having his third start for the stable and is the winner of six races with four of the victories coming on soft or heavy ground including a four-length win at the Gold Coast on a heavy track on March 24 before a runner-up finish over the Coffs Harbour mile on a soft surface last start. Balius was formerly prepared by Garry Neale at Warwick Farm and looks to have found his right grade at the Gold Coast and the Northern Rivers of NSW.With proven wet track form, Balius represents genuine value at the $7 available in early betting markets.
SAXTON ROCK - It’s rare to see the top-rated horse in a set-weight race at the bottom of the weights but that’s the case with the Matthew Dunn-trained Saxton Rock who will be chasing his second career win in the Sawtell Hotel Country Class 2 Showcase Plate (1400m). With a 62-point rating, Saxton Rock is rated 1.5kg better than his closest rival in terms of benchmark ratings however gets to carry the minimum 55.5kg giving the three-year-old son of Snitzel a significant advantage at the weights. Saxton Rock should be right at his peak fourth-up and his last start effort when runner-up at the Gold Coast in a class three set-weight race looks a solid pointer to his chances back to a country class two. Reckon Saxton Rock is the bet of the day.