IF Josh Adams can win on veteran stayer Packen at Scone on Friday, it would mean as much to the talented young jockey as any feature stakes success.
Packen, the tough 10-year-old gelding, is lining up in the Benchmark 66 Showcase Handicap (2200m), his first start since the recent passing of his former trainer, Brian Jenkinson.
“It would mean a lot to me if I can win on Packen,’’ Adams said.
“I should have won on the horse two starts back. I take responsibility for that loss.
“I rode him too ‘pretty’ and I got stuck behind a couple. Luck didn’t go my way.
“When we went past the post, I thought ‘we should have won’. I was desperate to win on Packen as I knew Brian wasn’t well so I was very disappointed with myself after that race.’’
RAY THOMAS’S BEST BETS
BEST BET: COLLISION (Race 5, No. 2)
Hasn’t raced since putting two solid runs together last November, including a second at Port Macquarie. He’s resuming here but has impressed in two recent barrier trials. Drawn the rails and should get every chance.
NEXT BEST: ELABORATE (Race 1, No. 1)
Settled on the speed and fought hard to the line when beaten less than a length into third behind Peyton Place at Taree. Elaborate will take improvement from the run, will appreciate getting out to 1400m and is well drawn.
BEST VALUE: ATTILA (Race 6, No. 5)
Has been improved by two runs from a spell, including his competitive effort at Coffs Harbour when third to Gripped over 1000m. He’s building up a consistent race record and has the inside barrier, while main rival Master Magic Al is out wide.
Race 5: 2,7,10.
Race 6: 1,4,5.
Race 7: 1,3,5,8.
Race 8: 1,3,5,6.
JOCKEY TO FOLLOW
GREG RYAN has an outstanding book of eight rides at Scone, all of them in the market. His best winning chances appear to be Acraman (race one), Arugula (three), Collision (five) and Triple Choice (seven).
TRAINER TO FOLLOW
SUE GRILLS has good chances in five races, including Elusive Valley (race one), Kadarchi (two), Attila (six) and Arleta (eight).
SCROLL DOWN FOR RAY’S EXTENDED PREVIEW & TIPS
Packen is now trained by Jenkinson’s son, Gerard, and Adams believes the stayer will appreciate getting back out in distance on Friday.
Adams is also linking with the in-form sprinter Master Magic Al in the Benchmark 58 Showcase Handicap (1200m). The Luke Hilton-trained Master Magic Al has won both his starts since resuming from a spell, winning his maiden at Port Macquarie then backing that up with a strong effort to score at Taree.
“He is going absolutely ‘enormous’ this horse,’’ Adams said. “I think he is a horse that needed confidence because he has been around the money without winning.
“But he came out of his Port Macquarie win and was even better at Taree. He had a big weight that day and got stopped halfway down the straight when we had to check.
“Generally when they have a big weight, they don’t pick up as well as he did and be too good for them. He is racing really well and should go close again.’’
Adams has a full book of eights rides at Scone, including four for leading trainer Sue Grills — Elusive Valley (race one), Kadarchi (race two), Assurity (race seven) and Arleta (race eight).
“I’ve only recently started doing a bit of riding for Sue — she is a wonderful trainer,’’ Adams said. “When you are on her horses, then you know you are on good chances.
“Elusive Valley is there to run really well as the bigger track will suit him, while Kadarchi ran second to Titus at his last start before a spell and that is strong form for this race.’’
Adams said Assurity should be ready to improve after recent racing, while Arleta looks to be one of the jockey’s best rides at the Scone meeting.
Trainer Rod Northam has secured Adams to ride Athena’s Voice in the Class 2 Showcase Handicap (1600m).
Adams has never been on the back of Athena’s Voice’s before but he knows her well, having ridden in the same race the mare won at Muswellbrook earlier this preparation.
“I remember Athena’s Voice came from last and sprinted past us to win, she went very well that day,’’ Adams said. “She does get back in her races but she finishes fast. I’m hoping for a bit of early speed because if there is a good tempo she is definitely a winning chance.’’
Adams also rides the Brett Thompson-trained Brave King in the Showcase Maiden (1200m).
INSIDE MAIL WITH RAY THOMAS
RACE 1 (12.25pm)
1. Elaborate is poised to break his maiden here. Solid effort first-up when third behind Peyton Place at Taree sets him up nicely for this race. Drawn perfectly and only needs to handle the rain-affected conditions. He is out of a Palace Music and the majority of the breed enjoy wet tracks. 5. Elusive Valley came from well back on the turn to just miss a place at Moree. 2. Delete is racing well and 4. Louisiana Man is a good chance.
BETTING STRATEGY: ELABORATE to win.
RACE 2 (1pm)
12. Craig’s My Boy has led for home both starts at Tamworth over 1000m, finishing a debut second to the handy Dame Kiri and then behind Akeelah. He’s stays at 1000m and has again drawn well. Ready to win. 5. Olifants is resuming but he has plenty of natural speed and has twice been placed at the provincials. 4. Kadarchi can sprint well fresh and I expect 13. In Good Health will find this much easier and can run an improved race.
BETTING STRATEGY: CRAIG’S MY BOY to win; Box trifecta 4,5,12,13
RACE 3 (1.35pm)
If 1. Arugula backs up here, he will be very hard to beat. He beat a smart type in Panzerfaust at Scone last Sunday, continuing his very consistent form this preparation. Untested on heavy tracks but still rates as the one to beat. 5. Hermosa Reward attacked the line to win well at Kempsey, 6. Athena’s Voice gets back in her races but has a powerful finish, while 3. Not For Export will be competitive.
BETTING STRATEGY: ARUGULA to win, saver on ATHENA’S VOICE.
RACE 4 (2.10pm)
2. Cut The Mustard is back in her right grade here after failing in the Grafton Cup. She scored successive wins at Tamworth at her previous two starts, including a runaway effort over the 2100m course. 3. Face Like Thunder is racing well without winning but she gets a lot of ticks here. 1. Husonique was also outclassed in the Grafton Cup but meets Cut The Mustard 3.5kg better at the weights here for being beaten nearly four lengths by her three starts back. 4. Packen is an each-way chance.
BETTING STRATEGY: CUT THE MUSTARD to win but have something each-way on PACKEN.
RACE 5 (2.50pm)
2. Collision shaped well in his only two starts late last year, including a competitive effort on a heavy track. He’s trialled nicely at Newcastle recently, has the inside gate and Greg Ryan — there is lots in his favour. 7. Magic Ray gave give trainer Todd Howlett a quinella here as he was solid first-up at Tamworth and will improve. 10. Nardini Song showed promise in her debut preparation with successive seconds at Tamworth and Armidale last summer but is resuming without an official barrier trial but this is a very winnable race.
BETTING STRATEGY: Quinella 2,7
RACE 6 (3.25pm)
5. Attila has shaped well in two runs since resuming and looks well placed here. He gets 2kg off main rival Master Magic Al and is drawn to get the gun run. 1. Master Magic Al is in career-best form, scoring successive wins at Port Macquarie and Taree since resuming. He shouldered a big weight and responded very well under pressure last start to score with authority. He is a little awkwardly drawn and coming back slightly in trip. 3. Royal Villa is an each-way contender.
BETTING STRATEGY: ATILLA to win; Quinella 1,5
RACE 7 (4.05pm)
Plenty of chances but 5. Rockatorio has never been racing better and will go close again. He has won twice and ran second four times in six starts this campaign and should get every chance from his good draw. 8. Triple Choice is the query runner. He was well beaten at Kembla first-up but will improve sharply. This is still touch short for him but will be finishing strongly. 1. Loud Enough is back in his right grade here and will be in the finish, while 3. Turcotte is a chance.
BETTING STRATEGY: ROCKATORIO each way, watch betting moves on TRIPLE CHOICE.
RACE 8 (4.40pm)
3. Empress Matilda started favourite at Canterbury two starts back when down the track behind Unwise then she failed again at Gosford. She has had a change of stables and this is a significant drop in grade. 7. Lookin’ Alive romped in first-up at Tamworth in June, 1. Golden Legacy is another handy sprinter with very good fresh form, and 5. Arleta is a place chance.
BETTING STRATEGY: Box trifecta 1,3,5,6