PANDEMONIUM will lead the Gai Waterhouse/Adrian Bott charge in Friday’s $200,000 Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m).
The powerhouse stable will also start Wedgie and Just Gorgeous in the feature event for three-year-old fillies.
THRILL RIDE: MCEVOY TO STEER WINX IN GALLOP
TOP TIPS: WEEKEND BEST BETS
Pandemonium is coming off a win at Canterbury when she beat So You Win by 1½ lengths over 1550m and she also has a victory over Augustus, who is on a South Australian or Queensland Derby path after winning at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
Bott said she is peaking for this race and is rock-hard fit to take on an impressive field of fillies like Torvill, Luvaluva and Rimraam.
MATT JONES’S BEST BETS
BEST BET: OSBORNE BULLS (Race 6, No. 5)
He’s a class horse, and he proved that first-up. Despite facing a competitive field here, he looks to have an edge on them.
NEXT BEST: RIMRAAM (Race 7, No. 2)
She has always raced well at a high level and proved last time that the NSW way of going was no distraction, and she’s got a Hall of Fame rider on board from a cushy draw.
VALUE BET: LIVE AND FREE (Race 3, No. 2)
Ignore the fact he finished fifth last time because he had no luck and could have almost won the race. That will just make his odds a little better here.
Race 5: 1, 2, 6, Race 6: 5, Race 7: 1, 2, 3, 4, Race 8: 3, 4, 12
TRAINER TO WATCH
JOHN O’SHEA only has two runners but they are both well placed and are winning chances.
JOCKEY TO WATCH
Hall of Fame jockey DAMIEN OLIVER has three rides and could win the big race of the day in the seventh, but don’t count out his mounts in races five and eight.
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“She’s the most proven out of the three going there and she’s coming off a strong win at Canterbury and we’ve been taking the easier route to this race,” Bott said. “She steps back to fillies grade and steps up to the trip which is ideal for her and a natural progression. She’s always been targeted at a race like this and she’s the benchmark of our three.
“The mile is key for her and she was dominant last start. She got conditions to suit, but she’s proven to us she’s up to this class.”
Wedgie finished last on debut in the winter after pulling up with lameness in her near hind leg. After a 20-week spell she has returned in great fashion by putting together two wins on the provincial circuit, but she has to improve to win this race.
She won by more than two lengths over 1600m at Hawkesbury last start. Bott said it was too good of an opportunity not to try and win a Group race for the filly in her own sex and age.
“She’s proven herself enough at the provincial level with some strong wins,” he said.
“She’s going into the race in top form and is very fit, but she needs to take the next step and go to the next level. We think she’s not out of place in this race. She’s racing with a lot of confidence and has been working well and she’s got suitable conditions.”
Just Gorgeous, like Wedgie, only has to carry 54kg in Friday’s race, but it will take a big performance to win. The stable gained confidence after she finished second in town last start and a big performance here will mean she books her ticket to The Championships.
“She obviously has to improve, being a maiden horse going into this race, but she’s been crying out for this trip,” Bott said. “We saw a much improved performance last start and we always thought she’d be up to this sort of level. She’s heading towards the ATC Oaks so we’d want her to be competitive at this sort of level to warrant going to that race.”
Like many Waterhouse-trained horses, all three have raced on the speed or led their races.
So which one will take up the running?
Pandemonium (12) and Just Gorgeous (15) have wide gates to contend with while Wedgie (6) should be able to drop in behind the speed. Bott said jockeys Tim Clark, Corey Brown and Adam Hyeronimus would race them with an open mind.
“I think they’re more versatile (than it reads on paper). They’ve led in their races due to circumstances in certain races,” Bott said. “Wedgie has been competing in small fields with no speed so she’s been able to capitalise on that and Pandemonium has been the same.
“The draws force your hand to be more decisive from those gates but that’s why we’ve got the right guys on board to make the right decisions.”
Editors set to be a success story
TRAINER Ross Stitt feels he has two horses ready to break their maidens at his home track on Friday, but he’s most confident about another of his runners — Editors — in the last race.
The Street Cry three-year-old lines up in the Class 2 Handicap (1257m) and hasn’t raced since finishing seventh at Port Macquarie on January 26, but Stitt said he should be forgiven for that run.
“I backed him up too quick last time, trying to be smart, but he didn’t handle the back-up. He resented that and wanted to duck in behind them,” Stitt said. “He’s freshened up well and is in top order. He’s had 10 days in the paddock and had a jumpout here last Monday and he’s going great. He’s by far and away my best chance. He’s goes all right.”
Stitt’s Leiladane and Natural Image are both chasing their first wins. Leiladane, which is in the 1312m Maiden Handicap, has finished second at two of her past three runs this time in work.
“If she’s ever going to win one she’ll win this race,” Stitt said. “She’s very, very well and is bubbly. I expect her to race well. She’s got speed, but you’ve got to nurture her a bit because she’s only had one run over 1300m.”
Natural Image was given to Stitt by owner Colonel Davies and she’s placed at seven of her 12 starts. It took her full-brother Natural Predator 27 starts to win for the Stitt-Davies combination, but that was in a $40,000 maiden event.
“She should have won a couple of times and she’ll be there,” Stitt said. “She goes well at the track and she’s very bright. Colonel gave her to me. She was a bit feral, but I gave him back a 10 per cent share when she started to go all right and she’s tough as teak.”
Blinkin Artie is Stitt’s other runner on the day and he’s coming off a 12th placing to hot shots, Victorem and Awesome Pluck, in Port Macquarie’s Country Championships Qualifier on February 18. He races in a Benchmark 60 Handicap (1312m) on Friday. “He goes well at the track and he’ll run a race, but he’s got some weight to carry,” Stitt said.
INSIDE MAIL WITH MATT JONES
RACE 1 (1.15pm)
11. Rheingau resumes here and Godolphin is looking for an easy kill after he ran well in Saturday class late last year. Any improvement off those runs will make him hard to beat. 8. Prahaar has plenty of natural ability but does a few things wrong. She would have won on debut had she not thrown jockey Jason Collett off in the closing stages at Randwick. 10. Zaffirina is so consistent but needs to find a length or two to win this. 4. C’est Davinchi has trialled very well for this and should be considered.
BETTING STRATEGY: RHEINGAU to win.
RACE 2 (1.50pm)
1. Leningrad was great in winning by two lengths on debut and these Waterhouse/Bott runners are always formidable in small fields where they can dictate. Expect him to lead them into the straight. 2. Icon Of Dubai is the threat and he will enjoy this drop back in class after racing in stakes grade last preparation. His two lead-up trials suggest he’s ready to impress first-up. 3. High Tranquility ran behind a smart pair last start and is one that will be an attractable price. 4. Boomtown Rat is flying at the moment and is a confident horse.
BETTING STRATEGY: ICON OF DUBAI to win.
RACE 3 (2.25pm)
1. Battle Fury peaks for this third-up and is a fit horse who will give them something to chase. 2. Live And Free couldn’t get enough running room last time and struck trouble and should have done a lot better than fifth. 3. Triplicate only just got pipped on the line last start and will be an improver. So will the stablemate 5. Sunday Session who will be up racing on the speed.
BETTING STRATEGY: LIVE AND FREE to win.
RACE 4 (3.05pm)
5. Letter To Juliette got a bad whack on the corner which cost it winning the Bathurst Cup two starts back and was good behind a nice horse in town last start and will enjoy the 2400m. 7. Varuska has been racing well over this trip and has the miles in its legs to be one of the strongest on the line. 1. Multitude raced well behind a good stayer last time but needs to improve.
BETTING STRATEGY: LETTER TO JULIETTE to win.
RACE 5 (3.40pm)
The stable are dropping 1. Durif back to 1200m after he won so well over the trip two starts back. 2. Kitteau has mixed it with better horses than these and if he returns well he should go close here because his fresh record is fantastic. 9. Dyslexic has promise and the stable/jockey combination is one of the best around. 6. Single And Free has had a freshen up which suits.
BETTING STRATEGY: KITTEAU to win.
RACE 6 (4.20pm)
5. Osborne Bulls was magnificent first-up and should get a cushy run but the inside gate will be a worry if he gets back. The best horse in the race and should win. 10. Stonebrook is the danger and he’s won two from two first-up and he is tough. 8. Philosophy also fires fresh and is undefeated at the trip and will get an easy run and have every chance.
BETTING STRATEGY: OSBORNE BULLS to win.
RACE 7 (4.55pm)
1. Luvaluva was running on well against a star performer first-up and the extra 200m here gives her a chance to win. 2. Rimraam has the fitness edge on her and comes into this race off a very good effort in Group 1 company, so this will be easier and she’s a top-liner. 3. Torvill almost snatched that same Group 1 race last start and she’s going great guns this preparation and she should have to do as much work to win this. Pandemonium will be looking the winner at some stage.
BETTING STRATEGY: Quinella 2, 3.
RACE 8 (5.35pm)
12. Delfuego was sensational in coming from behind to score easily last time and the extra 100m only makes him more formidable here. 3. Sacred Edge has his fourth run in a row over the mile and has won three of his past four, so he’s a confident horse. 4. Temprado would have beaten him in another two strides last start and they will be eyeballing each other again from their wide draws. If 1. Animalia runs up to his Melbourne form he’s a big player.
BETTING STRATEGY: DELFUEGO to win.