CHILCOTIN - The 1.5kg claiming apprentice Chris Williams has the ride on the Ben Smith-trained Chilcotin which will be striving for back-to-back wins in the MRS Services Group Benchmark 60 Handicap (1750m). Chilcotin came from back in the field to win a benchmark 65 handicap over 1500m at Muswellbrook last start at his second run back from a 72-day break between races recording solid speed figures in the process. A winner at the 1750m journey it would be reasonable to assume there is still scope for improvement third-up at Muswellbrook on Friday stepping up in distance. In with a winnable weight after Williams’ claim, there is nothing to suggest Chilcotin cannot win again.
BOYER - I don’t mind backing 4kg apprentices on speed horses and that’s the case with Boyer which has Qin Yong in the saddle when the three-year-old graduates out of maiden company in the BHP Mt Arthur Coal Benchmark 55 Handicap (1280m). Apprenticed to Boyer’s trainer Brad Widdup, Qin Yong was the successful rider when the three-year-old led all the way to impressively win his maiden at Canberra last start. Originally allotted 61kg, the 4kg claim for Qin Jong will give Bower every chance for a repeat performance on Friday.
SATAN DA - Daryl Hansen is good at getting them ready first-up and the engagement of Damian Browne on this four-year-old Bel Esprit gelding tells me he is ready to go. Satan Da’s first preparation was marred by greenness but he showed he had talent at his second outing when he led throughout to win in dominant fashion here over 1200m. He resumes after an 18-week break, has had one quiet trial, gets a tongue tie, and from the good gate over 1000m could be too speedy.
COUNTESS NATALIE - I picked Honest Natalie at Toowoomba on Wednesday and whilst she let me down at long odds she ran a decent race so we might give the stablemate a fly here. Countess Natalie is a four-year old by the Japanese stallion Fusaichi Ole out of a Carnegie mare so a step up to 1600m at her fourth career start looks ideal. Trained by Rochelle Smith, Countess Natalie has been in solid form since resuming with placings here and at Toowoomba over 1000m and 1300m respectively. She has some gate speed so with Sally Sweeney staying aboard and only 54kg, from gate one she can go forward and set her own tempo. In what is a moderate maiden, Countess Natalie should be hard to run down.
PRIVATE HERO - Trained by John Symons and Sheila Laxon, Private Hero can be hard to follow but he does like this track and with Tavistock Abbey scratched, finds himself in a winnable race. Since resuming from a break he has put in two good efforts winning here over 1400m in a class six and then running a solid race in a much stronger Saturday class six over 1600m won by Bergerac. Private Hero is much better suited in this Benchmark 75 and with Steph Lacy’s claim, 57kg looks a reasonable impost. She won on him two starts back and if she rides in similar fashion Private Hero will be hard to hold out.