Sunny Afternoon and Jamaican Dream can take advantage of better barrier draws, make amends for unlucky last-start defeats and bookend the Armidale meeting for the Paul Perry stable on Tuesday.
In the Armidale opener, Sunny Afternoon gets his opportunity to break through in the Maiden Handicap (1400m).
A placegetter in three of his six starts, Sunny Afternoon came out of barrier 12 at Gunnedah and had to work hard early to cross the field and lead, only to be ambushed in the straight and fade to finish fourth behind Brixton Town.
BEST BETS WITH RAY THOMAS: ARMIDALE
BEST BET: POLICY (Race 5, No. 3)
Impressive on debut, overcoming a wide barrier and winning his maiden comfortably in fast time at Gunnedah. This is tougher and he is up against some more experienced gallopers, but he has drawn to advantage and can win again.
NEXT BEST: MONEY TRAVELS (Race 2, No. 6)
Been competitive in all of his five starts and indicated he was close to a breakthrough win with his first-up second at Grafton. Ready to win.
VALUE BET: HE’S OUR TOY BOY (Race 7, No. 9)
He doesn’t win often but his recent form has been consistent. He is down on the 54kg limit today, the lightest weight he has carried in over a year. He should settle in a forward position
and run another competitive race. Great value at $16.
BEST EXOTIC: QUADDIE
R5: 2, 3. R6: 2, 4, 7, 9. R7: 1, 4, 7, 9. R8: 1, 2, 3, 6.
TRAINER TO FOLLOW: STIRLING OSLAND
Has a strong stable presence for his home track meeting and can lead in a stable quinella in the Open Handicap over 1900m (race six) with Exilia Miss and Rage Against.
JOCKEY TO FOLLOW: LOUISE DAY
Apprentice rider Louise Day has six very good rides, including So Good To Me (race one), Peyton Place (race five), Exilia Miss (race six) and Fearless Al (race eight).
Jamaican Dream, who lines up in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1400m), also ran at the Gunnedah meeting earlier this month and, just like his stablemate, drew wide that day and had to be used up to go to the front before being run down late when third to Shangato.
The difference on Tuesday is that both Sunny Afternoon and Jamaican Dream have barrier two for their respective races.
“I think the barrier cost Sunny Afternoon and Jamaican Dream at their last starts,’’ stable representative Nathan Perry said.
“The draw is much kinder to them at Armidale. Sunny Afternoon should get up on the speed and run well. The good barrier gives Jamaican Dream his chance, too.’’
The Newcastle Hall of Fame trainer is sending a strong team to Armidale, including General Soho in the Maiden Plate (1100m).
General Soho has been unplaced in three starts but his closing effort when fourth behind Policy at Gunnedah indicates a young sprinter on the improve.
“I really think he can run a race,’’ Nathan Perry said of General Soho.
Perry also expects He’s Our Toy Boy to be competitive in the Open Handicap (1300m).
He’s Our Toy Boy finds it hard to win, as his record suggests — five wins and 16 seconds from 61 starts — but the gelding continues to race consistently this campaign.
“He is a bit of a thinker,’’ Perry said.
“He doesn’t win too much but he is racing well.’’
The Perry stable is also represented by Mary Magpie and Star Factor in the Fillies and Mares Maiden (1100m), Reckless Knight is in the Class 1 Handicap (1100m) and Der Meister in the Open Handicap (1900m).
INSIDE MAIL WITH RAY THOMAS: ARMIDALE
There is little between So Good To Me and Sunny Afternoon. I have a slight leaning to So Good To Me, who fought hard in a Gunnedah maiden last start. She was a close second, while Sunny Afternoon tired to finish three lengths away in fourth. Sunny Afternoon, who meets So Good To Me better at the weights, had to work hard early from a wide barrier last start so deserves another chance. Dukes County and Hi My Girl should run well.
BET: QUINELLA 1, 4
Money Travels has been placed in three of his five starts and hasn’t finished further back than fourth. He resumed at Grafton this month and ran on late for an eye-catching second. Fitter now and will be hard to hold out. Gee Tee Ay ran a blinder on debut, unleashing with a late burst to finish a close second. In Ya Skyrocket led for a long way at Port Macquarie on debut and can only be improved. Keighley Sun is a good lightweight hope.
BET: MONEY TRAVELS TO WIN
Moscow Mistress, a daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, hasn’t raced since her game debut second at Gunnedah last December. Resumes today off a Tamworth barrier trial win. Her long break from racing is a concern but drawn well, gets in nicely with 55kg after the claim and this is very winnable. Mary Magpie should get every chance from the inside gate, Rizzoli showed early speed on debut and can improve, while Whisper Delovely showed some ability in her debut preparation.
BET: MOSCOW MISTRESS TO WIN; SAVER ON RIZZOLI
Ultimate Dreamer resumed off an 18-month break at Coffs Harbour three weeks ago and looked set for a winning comeback when she dashed clear inside the final 200m. Got a little tired near the line and was run down by More Patasi. Fitter and can go one better. Rosetta’s Comet doesn’t win out of turn but is never far away. Victory Vibes is a value runner and Call Me Brad has never been in better form.
BET: ULTIMATE DREAMER EACH WAY; BOX TRIFECTA 1, 2, 8, 10
Policy drew the outside barrier at Gunnedah but showed speed to share the lead and win by nearly a length in a fast time of 56.06sec for 1000m. Has talent, ideally drawn in two and can maintain his unbeaten record. Peyton Place won a Taree maiden and was twice placed in his four-start debut campaign. Resumes on Tuesday but shaped nicely in a Newcastle barrier trial recently. Cocky Rocky and Alternative Facts are in good form.
BET: POLICY TO WIN
Exilia Miss ran on strongly to just miss at Inverell then ran another second at Scone last start. Coming back in trip, drawn out wide and will get back early, so she needs a few things to go her way. Ready to win. Rage Against has won three races over the Armidale 1900m course. Bonnie Sare is consistent and better suited coming back in distance. Lonely Orphan is a place chance.
BET: BOX TRIFECTA 2, 4, 7, 9
He’s Our Toy Boy has a poor winning strike rate but recent form is consistent, including last-start second at Muswellbrook. Up in grade but gets in on the limit here. Good each-way value. Melted Moments is in career-best form and enjoys racing on home track. De La Hoya has been freshened since second when favourite to Melted Moments five weeks ago. Mishani Stealth was aided by a brilliant ride in win at Newcastle, but that is strong form for this race.
BET: HE’S OUR TOY BOY EACH WAY; BOX TRIFECTA 1, 4, 7, 9
Jamaican Dream had to do plenty of work early before tiring near the line when third at Gunnedah last start. Perfectly drawn and ready to strike winning form. Fearless Al finished second, just in front of Jamaican Dream, at Gunnedah and is the danger. Balantes and Chateauroux are contenders.
BET: JAMAICAN DREAM TO WIN; QUINELLA 2, 3