CORTESTA - The Gary Portelli-trained Cortesta is a filly I have always had some time for, however she is yet to repay the loyalty but reckon that will change in the Gallagher Insurance Brokers Maiden Plate (1200m). A winner of her only trial leading into her debut run, Cortesta turned in one of the better runs in the Gimcrack Stakes settling back in the field after drawing a wide gate and working home nicely. Cortesta disappointed in her two remaining first preparation runs but made a promising start to her current preparation finishing successive thirds at Hawkesbury before failing to run out the 1400m at Kembla when a beaten odds-on favourite last start. Lucky I don’t bet in the run because I would have loaded up at the 250m mark last start but Cortesta simply didn’t run out distance. Back to 1200m and getting all the favours in running from the inside gate Cortesta gets one more chance.
SOKUDO - Based on their efforts in the Fernhill Handicap when there was less than a length between the two, bookmakers have posted Sokudo the early $3 favourite for the two-year-old maiden at Newcastle with Rheingau at $4.20, but I believe the market differential should be wider. Rheingau didn’t see out the mile of the Fernhill and coming back to 1400m would be the primary reason the Godolphin colt is so close to Sokudo in the market, but the Snowden colt’s effort was terrific. After jumping awkwardly Sokudo was last early before improving along the fence to settle seven-lengths from the leaders at the 800m and was still five lengths astern straightening at Randwick. After being held-up at the 250m Sokudo only saw clear running over the last stages and should have finished closer whilst Rheingau had the perfect run throughout settling two out two back and being in a position to win on straightening. Racing is all about opinions and I believe Sokudo should be shorter in the market which makes her the value in the race.
JUVENTUS - The Angela Davies stable have been good to me over the years and I am reluctant to tip against them however I'm making an exception in the Squealing Pig Benchmark 64 Handicap (1300m) and having something on the Kris Lees-trained Juventus to defeat the early favourite Dylan’s Dynasty.Dylan’s Dynasty was our best bet at Muswellbrook last start and gave us no cause for concern however there was plenty to like about the win of Juventus at Port Macquarie resuming last time out. Juventus was forced to race four-wide without cover at Port Macquarie and was still to good for his rivals and is drawn to get the gun run in transit launching from barrier two on Saturday. If the market order of Dylan’s Dynasty and Juventus was reversed I may see the race differently but at their current odds the latter is clearly the value in the race.
CHARLEE BEAR - The Greg Kilner-trained Charlee Bear will wear the blinkers for the first time when the daughter of Choisir lines up in the Paron & Philip Builders Benchmark 60 Handicap (1010m). A winner of five of her first six career starts, Charlee Bear has struggled in recent times. However, her recent form, including an Armidale second two runs back would suggest the daughter of Choisir and a fourth-place finish at Grafton last start would suggest the mare is close to returning to the winner’s stall. The last two runs have been over 1100m and although a winner at the trip, the journey is at the outer limit of her distance range and her overall statistics back up the assertion with five of her six career wins coming over 1000m. With the blinkers on, back to her preferred journey and well-weighted after the 3kg claim for apprentice Leah Kilner, Charlee Bear has to be given one more chance.
NOTHINGFORTHEPRESSR - Just one win from 13-starts is a concern for the Stephen Lee-trained Nothingforthepress, but the four-year-old has been a consistent performer throughout his career finishing in the placings on eight occasions including the last five on the trot. After finishing third in a class two at Grafton two runs back and a similar finish at the same track last start carrying 59.5kg in benchmark 55 company, Nothingforthepress looks well placed back to a set-weight class one. Nothingforthepress wore blinkers for the first time on May 1, 2017 with the gear change getting immediate results when the son of Pressday recorded his solitary career victory. The blinkers came off after one more run and are back for the first time since on Monday. The gear change looks the catalyst for Nothingforthepress to end a frustrating run of minor placings with a win.