TRAINER Garry White thinks Military Academy is on track for Saturday-class racing but only if he produces a very good performance at Hawkesbury on Thursday.
The three-year-old Snitzel colt races in a Class 2 Handicap (1100m) after winning a maiden event at his home track on April 17 by 2½ lengths with Corey Brown on board.
White said despite bypassing a Class 1 race and heading straight to Class 2 company, he’s ready to take another big career step.
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“He’s come through that win really, really well and I’m very happy with the horse,” he said.
“He’s most definitely shown me that he’s ready to go on with it. He’s getting better with each run and he’s at his peak for this race.
MATT JONES’ BEST BETS
BEST BET: ROYAL PHOENIX (Race 5, No. 5)
He has run behind the likes of Warranty and Sedition last start and they went on to perform very well in harder races next start, so if he holds that form he should beat this field.
NEXT BEST: OMBUDSMAN (Race 3, No. 6)
He will do better than last start when beaten as a heavily backed favourite. He’s got the class to bounce back and make punters happy with him again.
VALUE BET: CURATA PRINCESS (Race 7, No. 6)
She will start near favourite but it looks to be an open race so she will still be an attractive price considering this is nowhere near her hardest assignment.
Race 5: 2, 3, 5; Race 6: 3, 4; Race 7: 2, 4, 6, 7; Race 8: 2, 4, 5, 8
TRAINER TO WATCH
RON QUINTON will take just two runners to the races but he’s placed them well and they can both win.
JOCKEY TO WATCH
BLAKE SHINN has a fine book of rides, particularly his first three early in the day, while he could finish it off with a couple of horses that present good value.
SCROLL DOWN FOR MATT’S EXTENDED PREVIEW & TIPS
“He’s got his maiden out of the way and he’s really improved in his work this time in and even though it’s a Class 2 it looks like a nice race for him and he drops a couple of kilograms in weight so he should race well.”
But White still respects the field he has to face, which includes two other last-start winners in Choice Harvest and Thrilled. Royal Phoenix also comes off a third placing to Warranty, who went on to run fifth in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Guineas, and Sedition, who raced on to win his next start last Saturday at Rosehill.
But White knows his horse has the ability to compete with them.
“If he brings to the race what he shows me at home, he’ll win much better races than a Class 2 at Hawkesbury,” he said. “If he wins this race I’ll have a better idea of where he’s going to end up. He’s a lot more of a seasoned horse and I think he can even go on to a three-year-old Saturday race soon, but we’ll see what he does at Hawkesbury first.”
Military Academy was racing well but without success during his first campaign in midweek city grade against the likes of Cuba, So You Win and Higher Ground, but a 19-week spell did him the world of good.
“Those nippy three-year-old fields he ran into at his first preparation may look a bit easy because they’re small fields but they usually end up producing good horses,” White said.
“He’s a bit like his sister in that he got bone-sore during his first preparation and he’s been a late-maturing horse but he’s over all those problems and Corey really has a big opinion of him.”
Redemption Road is White’s other runner on the card and he lines up in a Maiden Plate over 1100m. He’s returned a much more settled individual after he was gelded following three runs where he didn’t figure in the finish.
“It’s helped him with his attitude, no doubt,” White said. “He hasn’t had a trial for it but he’s fit enough and it doesn’t look like an overly strong race for him.
“He was disappointing but I’ve seen so many horses improve after being gelded and I’m pretty sure that was his problem. He knew he was a boy and was concentration on other things.”
INSIDE MAIL WITH MATT JONES
RACE 1 (12.20pm)
1. African Academy always puts in a good run and now that he’s dropped back in grade, he gets his chance to win. He’s up to 1600m for the first time and it should help. 2. Soir De Lune is in the same boat. He raced last start like he needed more ground and he looks like a tough type that won’t throw in the towel. 4. Ahmad is on debut over 1600m and he’s been driven out in his past two trials over 1200m which included a win in a trial for open company horses.
BETTING STRATEGY: AFRICAN ACADEMY to win.
RACE 2 (12.55pm)
2. Georgica got out to a trip and scored last time but did get a cushy run and didn’t go around a horse to secure the win. Dropping back 100m might be a good thing. 3. Itasca finally gets out to a distance where he can win fourth-up and the encouraging thing about him this preparation is that he’s been making up ground each time he runs. 4. High Dude is knocking on the door and will be thereabouts once again. 6. Miss Shanti couldn’t sprint with the first two last start but kept coming and looks ready to peak fourth-up.
BETTING STRATEGY: MISS SHANTI to win.
RACE 3 (1.35pm)
5. Kaapfever just gets better as the distances rise so now that he’s out to 1800m we can expect a good performance and he’s a very fit horse. 6. Ombudsman can make amends after finishing third when odds-on last start in a funny-run race. He’ll be strong late. 10. Stock Up has just been running out of ground of late and trainer Scott Singleton planned to run her over a mile on Thursday but has decided to go even further, which looks to be a smart move. 1. Happy Hustler needs to lift a couple of lengths to win.
BETTING STRATEGY: OMBUDSMAN to win.
RACE 4 (2.10pm)
1. Barnabas has been unlucky not to have won already. Watch for him late because he can produce a nice turn of foot off the speed. 4. Toroso will improve a lot from start No. 1 after a spell and two lead-up trials, but watch the market with him. 9. Tactical Formation is in the right race once again and shouldn’t be too worried about any of his rivals as long as he gets a bit of luck from gate 10. If he gets cover he can come off one’s back and let down well.
BETTING STRATEGY: BARNABAS to win.
RACE 5 (2.45pm)
2. Choice Harvest can continue to add to his nice early race record with a forward performance here after two good trials and he’ll get a good run from the draw with an in-form jockey on board. 3. Thrilled ran behind him a few starts back but has really improved since then and can turn the tables while his stablemate 4. Inquiry needs to lift. 5. Royal Phoenix ran behind a subsequent Saturday winner last start and if he holds that form it should be good enough to win. 7. Military Academy isn’t out of it and his trainer and jockey think he’s going on to bigger things after this race.
BETTING STRATEGY: ROYAL PHOENIX to win.
RACE 6 (3.20pm)
2. Bullseye Score should have a better record than he does and he looks to be a fighter. His last run was brave and he’ll make them earn a win. 3. C’est Davinchi is out to end a run of four consecutive seconds and go one better here, which he can do after going so close at Kembla Grange last start. He’ll wear visors for the first time, so expect a big run. 4. Epirus Bow won’t have the ear muffs on for the first time when he resumes here after he ran behind a handy horse last time. He won his lead-up trial well and looks to have returned a better horse.
BETTING STRATEGY: C’EST DAVINCHI to win.
RACE 7 (3.55pm)
2. Legistation blundered the start last time and did well to run so close to the eventual winner but he does rise in class now so he can’t afford to do anything wrong. All his wins have come at his home track. 4. Bodhi Blue wasn’t given a chance to finish closer last start but he gets Blake Shinn on and will be given every chance. 6. Curata Princess should be up on the speed making her own luck and she’s beaten better horses than she faces here. 7. Polar Blast is knocking on the door and is in the appropriate grade to get the job done. This is yet another open race.
BETTING STRATEGY: CURATA PRINCESS to win.
RACE 8 (4.35pm)
2. Sweet Deal drops down from Group 3 grade so she’s the class runner of the field and the blinkers come off for the first time. 4. Phoenix Charm comes off a good win where he showed he can run nice sectionals but he still needs to take natural improvement off that run to win again. 8. Extreme Measure missed the kick last start and was never in the race. She won here two starts ago and the blinkers have been taken off for the first time and she can bounce back.
BETTING STRATEGY: SWEET DEAL to win.