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HAWKESBURY trainer Mitch Newman is starting to get the best out of Bell Serenade and expects the three-year-old to be hard to hold out in the opening event over 1200m at Wyong on Wednesday.

Bell Serenade has finished second at his past two starts this time in after a first preparation that consisted of more lows than highs. Newman has taken his time with Bell Serenade since he arrived at the stables last year, and it’s only now we are starting to see him fulfil his potential.

DONCASTER: NEWNHAM ITCHING TO MAKE HIS MARK IN MILE

“He’s been in good form in his first preparation with me, but he’s taken some time to learn the ropes,” Newman said. “We’ve done a lot or work to get him to relax and breathe during the run. He was doing things wrong and going too hard and not finishing off his races. Now he’s pretty push-button and puts himself on the bunny and he’s finishing it off consistently.”

SHAYNE O’CASS’S BEST BETS

BEST BET: HAPPY GO PLUCKY (Race 5, No. 1)

Brings together the profitable trainer/jockey combination of Allan Denham and Robert Thompson. Happy Go Plucky has been runner-up at all four runs at the 1550/1600m, including two at Canterbury. Drawn well to go well.

NEXT BEST: BARBARY (Race 8, No. 2)

Owned by his trainer Gerald Ryan and has clearly come back in the best shape of his short career (only had five starts) judging by his outstanding first-up run at Gosford, where he came from last to finish second over 1200m. Steps up to 1350m, and just needs a good tempo.

VALUE: MISS CASIER (Race 6, No. 4)

Went up at $10 with TAB Fixed Odds to win what is admittedly an open race, but the

way she trialled at Hawkesbury on March 19 was indicative of a bold first-up showing, bearing in mind her lone win came first-up so she goes well on the fresh side.

JOCKEY TO FOLLOW

JOSH PARR will start at Winx-like odds to win the TAB Jockeys Challenge. He could get at least 12 points and that would be more than enough to get the chocs.

BEST EXOTIC

Quaddie: R5: 1, 2, 4, 5; R6: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; R7: 1, 3, 5, 8; R8: 1, 2.

SCROLL DOWN FOR SHAYNO’S EXTENDED PREVIEW & TIPS

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His record on paper (11:0-3-0) might not look that great but Newman said he should have already won at least one race and the writing’s on the wall with him.

He just needs even luck on Wednesday to be fighting out the finish.

“I think he’s a better horse when he has horses to chase so I’d like to see him running third. You’ve got to be close to them at Wyong,” he said. “He showed the ability straight away but when we’d take him to the races he’d race upside down and fall into a bit of a hole.

“We’ve taken some gear off him and now he’s relaxing.

“Things haven’t gone to plan at his last couple of runs and if they had he would have already won his maiden.”

Newman’s other runner on the day is Miss Casier.

The three-year-old filly is in a Class 1 Handicap (1000m) and Newman has taken the same approach he took with Miss Casier when she won first-up last preparation. She has had one trial and it was a win at Hawkesbury over 760m in less than 45 seconds.

He told punters to ignore her flop two starts back over 1280m when she didn’t run the trip. He said she is much better over 1000m and will give a good sight.

Newman said she is going even better than when she won at Muswellbrook in the spring.

“She’s very professional and is very fast out of the gates,” he said.

“She’s strengthened up nicely and this is the same formula as last time. She races very fresh and she’s a lot more forward this time than she was ahead of her first-up win last preparation.

“She tries hard and she’ll be hard to beat. I was surprised to see her come up at $9. I thought she’d be shorter than that.”

So which is his best chance of the day?

Despite the fact Miss Casier is impressing at home, he’s siding with Bell Serenade, but only just. “He’s in form and is rock-hard fit and looks to be a major player in that race. They’re both going into their races in good form and are chances,” he said.

Meantime, trainer Glen Thompson says Never Been Another only has to hold his form to win at Wyong. The four-year-old lines up in a Class 1 and Maiden Plate (2100m) and he’s coming off a fourth placing to Attracted over the same trip at Gosford on March 17.

A start earlier he was second to Furore, who is running in Saturday’s Group 1 Australian Derby, and on Wednesday Never Been Another finds himself in a field full of horses that haven’t won a race yet. So Thompson is understandably bullish about his chances.

“If he’s anywhere near his best, he’ll be hard to beat,” he said. “He’s starting to handle things a lot better now and I think he’s a good chance if he runs up to his past three runs.

“His run two starts back was great. I know he ran second, but Corey (Brown) got off him and said he was six lengths better than he was when he won on him a few starts before.”

Some jockeys form a partnership with a horse that adds lengths to the performance and two-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Brown has been able to get the best out of Never Been Another. But he will have to make sure Tim Clark doesn’t get away with too many favours on the Gai Waterhouse/Adrian Bott-trained Just Gorgeous.

“Gai’s horse will be the one to beat because we’ll be giving it a bit of a headstart, but he can win if things go right for him,” Thompson said. “His best runs have been for Corey and he’ll be ridden a bit quiet, but Corey knows him so I’ll leave it up to him.”

INSIDE MAIL WITH SHAYNE O’CASS

WYONG

RACE 1 (12.50pm)

1. Don’t Over Think is a Joe Pride-trained gelding with Corey Brown to ride. Keenness cost him first-up, so Pride has gone for the crossover noseband to help him settle better. 2. Bell Serenade has been runner-up at three of his past four starts. Local 4. City Of Love won a trial here on March 28.

BETTING STRATEGY: DON’T OVER THINK win.

RACE 2 (1.25pm)

It’s a three-horse race here so it’s no surprise the Snowden filly 5. Jawhara is $1.40. It’s basically a two-horse affair given it would be a shock if 6. White Lioness beat home 1. Better Take Cover, let alone Jawhara, who bumped into a handy horse at Wyong last start in Mighty Marmalade. The question is, how much has Better Take Cover improved off the debut?

BETTING STRATEGY: Trifecta standout in order 5, 1, 6.

RACE 3 (2pm)

Looks a two-horse race between Team Hawkes’s 2. Aboukir Bay and Gwenda Markwell’s 3. Bounding Badger, who has race fitness and experience with seven placings from 12 starts, including all four runs this campaign. Aboukir Bay was solid in his two runs in a first preparation and you would think a Duporth would train on. Going on his recent trial, that seems the case.

BETTING STRATEGY: ABOUKIR BAY to win; Exacta Nos. 2, 3; Quinella Nos. 2, 3.

RACE 4 (2.35pm)

5. Regal Cannon’s mention in the stewards’ report after finishing a 21-length last reads like Tolstoy’s War and Peace — in summary, he went out like Usain Bolt but came home like Cliffy Young. He was ordered back to the trials and actually looked good. Was $5 into $4.40 in early TAB trade and you can see why — back to the mile is the big plus and this isn’t a strong race. 4. Kaapfever is inbred to Sir Tristram, so it was no wonder his best run (of three starts) was the first time he got the mile. He can keep improving.

BETTING STRATEGY: REGAL CANNON to win; Quinella 4, 5.

RACE 5 (3.10pm)

Robert Thompson has ridden four of the seven runners in this race. He’s on board 1. Happy Go Plucky, which has given him his best return of the bunch — six rides for three wins, two placings and a fourth. The Allan Denham-trained son of Pluck has been runner-up at all four runs around this trip, including a couple at Canterbury. 5. Macquarie Magic can figure but has to find three lengths to level up with 4. Nadacheva from their last meeting.

BETTING STRATEGY: HAPPY GO PLUCKY to win.

RACE 6 (3.45pm)

4. Miss Casier, thereabouts in most of her six starts, is value at $10 in an open race where four of the seven are first-up, including herself. The trial win at Hawkesbury was impressive. No more impressive, though, than the Wyong heat win by 5. Venture Capital, who had won at Scone 20 days prior, running 50.33s for the 900m and an unbelievable 31.99s for the last 600m. 1. Eleazar and 3. Progression have also trialled keenly.

BETTING STRATEGY: MISS CASIER each way.

RACE 7 (4.20pm)

1. Dependable is no luxury price at $2.50 for a horse that has only won one from 14. But he has placed nine times and the horse that went up at $2.10 in 8. Just Gorgeous is a talented three-year-old filly but is no champion. John Sargent has Dependable fit for the 2100m, a trip that he’s been looking for this preparation. 3. Never Been Another’s win was over this distance. 5. Pharisee is the big improver.

BETTING STRATEGY: Dependable win; Pharisee place

RACE 8 (4.55pm)

2. Barbary underwent a throat procedure in between his last run of the previous campaign and his outstanding first-up run at Gosford, when he came from last to finish a 0.5-length second. He is a lightly raced type who has clearly come back in great shape. The extra 150m should suit and he just needs a good ride (again) from James Innes Jr. 1. Leningrad was $3.10 to $2.25 when he won on debut at Canterbury. He was rolled at $1.75 at Kembla after that, but only just, and beaten a handy horse. Back to 1350m suits.

BETTING STRATEGY: BARBARY to win; Exacta Nos. 2, 3; Quinella 2, 3.

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