BRETT Cavanough will know on Thursday whether he has two legitimate Country Championships contenders when Star Boy and Another Sin step out at Scone.
The three-year-olds are entered in separate races on Thursday with Another Sin having form around Randwick Guineas favourite Kementari. If Another Sin races well in the last race, a Class 3 Handicap (900m), Cavanough said he wouldn’t hesitate in stepping him up in distance for the Scone Country Championships qualifier (1400m) on March 18.
CANTERBURY STAKES: LEES HAS LITTLE GEM UP HIS SLEEVE
“Another Sin is rock-hard fit after a few starts and I thought I’d drive the 900m into him to make sure he’s fit enough if I decide to run him in the qualifier,” Cavanough said.
“I thought he struggled at 1200m but that was at a different level to what these 1400m qualifiers are going to be and there’s a theory that a sharp five-furlong horse can skip the 1200m and go straight to the 1400m because they can get a soft lead.”
MATT JONES’S BEST BETS
BEST BET: STAR BOY (Race 5, No. 2)
He looks to be a class above his rivals and it’s hard to see anything bothering him. He’s progressive and will go on to win better races than this.
NEXT BEST: KANGA’S EYE (Race 7, No. 2)
Simply the huge drop back in grade makes this runner too hard to go past and she should be able to get the job done in this grade.
VALUE BET: AYHAM (Race 4, No. 1)
There’s a question mark over this horse’s ability to run a strong mile but the trainer is confident it won’t be an issue and he’s a horse full of confidence and racing well.
Race 5: 2, Race 6: 2, 7, 10, Race 7: 2, 5, 6, 7, Race 8: 2, 3, 4, 5
TRAINER TO WATCH
RODNEY NORTHAM always has to be respected at his home track and he rarely comes to Scone without a few winning chances.
JOCKEY TO WATCH
JAY FORD makes the trip back out to the bush and he’s on a few good horses so expect him to get at least one of them home.
SCROLL DOWN FOR MATT’S EXTENDED PREVIEW & TIPS
Another Sin has won just two races from six starts, but he’s raced in Group company in town, including a 10-length seventh to star colt Kementari in the Eskimo Prince Stakes at Warwick Farm. He’s since come back to country racing at Tamworth and got the job done in a Class 2 race over 1000m. Cavanough isn’t concerned about the drop back to 900m on Thursday.
“He’s got the miles in his legs and he’s met horses at a pretty high level before,” he said.
“How far would Kementari beat them by at Scone? A furlong. He beat us by 10 lengths so I’m pretty happy with how he (sets up for this).”
Star Boy will take a more conventional route to the Country Championships when he contests the Benchmark 65 Handicap (1100m), where he’s shooting for three straight wins, including a last-start victory in a Highway Handicap (1200m) at Warwick Farm.
“I’d say my two three-year-olds are pretty handy,” Cavanough said.
“Star Boy is pretty brilliant fresh, he’s got good form and he’s in good order and he’ll back up into the qualifier and we’ll see if he’s good enough.
“He’s a lovely horse and if we can qualifier with him Jay (Ford) will go with him. With Another Sin, we’ll be looking for a frontrunning 1400m rider, so I’d want to go with golden hands, Matthew Cahill.”
Eradicator is another Cavanough runner and he’s contesting a Class 1 Handicap (1100m) off the back of a dominant 4½ length win at Narromine on February 4.
“He’s confident off that last win and the sting will be out of the ground so he’ll get a perfect surface,” Cavanough said. “He’s a high-cruising speed horse and he won his maiden when he was able to get his foot into the ground so he’ll run super.
“They’ll know he’s there from when the gates fly.”
Cavanough would like Al Cubana to break through for a rare win in a Benchmark 55 (1300m) race and he said punters can forgive him for his ninth at Scone last start.
“He’s a bit of a prolific placegetter so we might ask the stewards if we can ride him a bit differently,” he said. “We’ll see how the track’s playing and we might ride him a bit closer to the speed. He got stuck in a bit of a black hole last time and was dictated to.”
If Last Side gets a run in the third, a Maiden Plate over 1300m, expect a better showing than his ninth on debut. “The race the other day was too short for him but I had to kick him off someone and now that he’s at 1300m and with the blinkers on I’ll expect a better showing,” Cavanough said.
INSIDE MAIL with MATT JONES
RACE 1 (1.25pm)
3. Venture Capital has placed five times from nine starts and considering that has been in provincial or metropolitan company it’s hard to not back him here, especially considering he hasn’t been disgraced when racing at a higher level than this race. 1. Licenced To Win looks to be the main danger after finishing second at all three career runs and trainer Cody Morgan says he’s rock-hard fit and ready to fire. 4. Washington George just needs to start a bit better and he can figure.
BETTING STRATEGY: VENTURE CAPITAL to win.
RACE 2 (2pm)
2. Fleeting Princess gets to come out of gate one here after drawing horribly in barrier 13 at Nowra on debut, but she still finished second, and with an easier run here she can go one better and give a good sight on the speed. 1. Rouge Runner was another who was out wide last start but he was forced to make a run three-wide with no cover and he still toughed it out for third so expect improvement here.
BETTING STRATEGY: FLEETING PRINCESS to win.
RACE 3 (2.35pm)
2. Escalator comes into this off two trials so expect a forward showing. The stable has a good record of winning country races with lightly-raced horses. 8. Valree is worth taking a chance on fresh, at her home track, because first-up over 1300m is ideal for her. 5. Seeingisbelieving is another Bjorn Baker runner and is coming off a closing second in a trial but that was on heavy ground.
BETTING STRATEGY: VALREE to win.
RACE 4 (3.10pm)
Trainer Michelle Fleming expects 1. Ayham to have no problems running out a strong mile and can make it four straight wins. She also said 5. St Luke is racing well enough to chase the stablemate down and win. 6. Love For Willow closed off very well last start and the 1600m looks perfect for her here. 4. Lady Guissel has been racing at a range of distances and comes off two Highway Handicap runs, but they couldn’t have filled punters with confidence. She is fit, though.
BETTING STRATEGY: LOVE FOR WILLOW to win.
RACE 5 (3.45pm)
2. Star Boy is a handy three-year-old and he’s got bigger things in store after this, so expect a big race from him. He’s got some weight to carry (59.5kg) but he did carry 60kg to win two starts back, and he’s talented. Michelle Fleming is backing 5. The Lion to bounce back over a shorter distance here, so he could be over the odds. 4. Stradance drops in class for this and it should always fill punters with confidence when they go from city racing back to the bush.
BETTING STRATEGY: STAR BOY to win.
RACE 6 (4.20pm)
2. Al Cubana has a concerning winning rate but he’s a consistent horse who probably should have won more than two and he’s not the worst here. 7. Sweet Fella drops back to 1300m and that’s a good thing for him. And the slight apprentice’s weight relief might prove the difference for him on the line. 9. Torio’s Delight comes out of a slightly better gate here and shouldn’t have to work as hard as last start when he was third. He’s fit enough to win now.
BETTING STRATEGY: TORIO’S DELIGHT to win.
RACE 7 (4.55pm)
2. Kanga’s Eye must be taking the sharpest drop back in grade in Australia racing on Thursday after she last contested the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes. Prior to that she was a consistent city performer and must be respected in this race. 5. Eradicator will be out giving a good sight and can hold on to finish in the money. Expect 7. Big Reg to be a force in this race after an unlucky run behind a smart horse last start.
BETTING STRATEGY: KANGA’S EYE to win.
RACE 8 (5.30pm)
A small but nice field of horses with 3. Another Sin looking like the one to beat. The only slight query is the drop back to 900m, but he’s got the class to overcome that. He has run in Group races already in his short career. The danger is 4. Invincible Gangsta who loves coming off a hot speed to let down. 5. Kenny Succeed won very well last start and there’s no reason he can’t do it again as a possible leader. 2. Mosrai could run them all down from the rear so watch for him late.
BETTING STRATEGY: ANOTHER SIN to win.