Raceday focus: Best bets at Warwick Farm
WHEN Aqua D'ivina powered past Island Missile at Randwick on January 6, trainer Matthew Smith started to plot an autumn campaign before a bout of colic dashed her carnival plans.
She makes her return to racing on Wednesday at Warwick Farm and if she returns in the same form, she will force Smith to plan a spring carnival tilt this time.
The Pierro four-year-old ran in the last race on the card, a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1400m), and her lead-up trial, when a closing fourth to Shumookh, should give her fans plenty of confidence.
"She's come back really good and she has a bit of class about her," Smith said.
"She's going to get over a bit of ground and this is a good starting point for her. She'll be right in this race. She's had the work and trials and has a reasonable good level of fitness."
Smith decided to give her three lead-up trials to make sure she was ready for an often tough run fresh over 1400m .
Three-kilo claiming apprentice Rebeka Prest rides her from gate three.
"She just needed the extra trial because she was off for a long time," Smith said.
"She was going to go to a 1200m race too but I decided it would be best if she went to a 1400m. She may have got run off her feet over 1200m and I think she'll end up running over 2000m."
If she comes out and races well, Smith will send her south for the spring carnival.
"She's one of the better hoses I've trained," he said. "We're hoping we can end up in Melbourne over the carnival."
Lashes and Not A Zin Zan will race for Smith in a Maiden Plate (1100m) earlier in the day, and it's the first starter Lashes he's siding with. She won her two lead-up trials and is a real professional.
"Lashes is a nice filly who has done everything right in her trials and her work and she's in good shape," he said. "I'm really happy with her. I'm not sure where she fits in but she deserves to have a crack in this race.
"She just did it herself. I didn't say 'go out and win the trial' but I wanted her right to go for this race and I can't fault her. She'll be competitive."
Not A Zin Zan ran 10th behind the smart Madame Rouge in March before going for a spell but Smith says she'll have to improve to get the better of her rivals and stablemate.
"I haven't quite got her worked out yet. I've had a few in that family and they're quite sharp but she looks like she'll want to get over a bit of ground," he said. "Out of the two I'd sat Lashes is the most forward and she's bombproof."
Zin Zan Elise is Smith's other runner on the day, in a Benchmark 70 Handicap (1200m), but she needs to lift after two unplaced runs to start her preparation.
"She's been out of form and I'm trying to get her back into form," he said. "She's a big mare who has taken a few runs to get fit and she should be right up to the mark this time."
MATT JONES'S BEST BETS
BEST BET: HIGH BRIDGE (Race 4, No.4)
He's going to be even better over 2200m now after winning well over 1900m at his Australian debut and he's bred for this trip.
NEXT BEST: UNGUARDED (Race 3, No.11)
She drops way back in grade for this so it's a good formula and on her previous form in three starts, she should be going very close in this race.
VALUE BET: DOLLY'S DUE (Race 5, No.13)
She runs into a few other good chances but she's likely to start over the odds despite a good last start win and previous good form in town.
Race 5: 1, 2, 12, 13
Race 6: 2, 5, 9, 10
Race 7: 2, 5, 6, 8, 12
Race 8: 3, 5
TRAINER TO WATCH
GWENDA MARKWELL has only two runners, Fortification and Excelsior, but they can both win.
JOCKEY TO WATCH
KERRIN MCEVOY has winning chances in High Bridge, Jen Rules, Chabreet and Palmateer.
INSIDE MAIL WITH MATT JONES
RACE 1 (12.50pm)
5. Stardome looked the goods in his only trial, winning with a bit in hand. He was scratched from an easier race on Tuesday for this and is a striking black colt. 2. Fortification trialled nicely after a break and James McDonald will ride the Redoute's Choice colt, who will improve off his debut fourth at Kembla Grange in the autumn. 3. Golden Shoulder was impressive in this two trials and Tracey Bartley places his horses very well so this is a good sign.
BET: STARDOME to win.
RACE 2 (1.25pm)
6. Nakeeta Jane put in a top run on debut a fortnight ago and you'd like to think she would have taken plenty out of the experience and is ready to go one better here. 1. Ranier has the wide gate to contend with but also has the best formlines after running second to Miss Fabulass two starts back and that form was franked on Saturday. 2. Matowi has just been running into a few form horses and he will do that again here, but he's still right in it with Hugh Bowman on.
BET: RANIER to win.
RACE 3 (2pm)
7. Lashes hasn't had a start yet but trainer Matthew Smith says she's a natural so punters shouldn't be too concerned with her being green and not knowing what it's all about. She's won her two lead-up trials, too. 11. Unguarded takes a massive drop in class here after running behind the likes of Pure Elation and Fiesta last start and this is obviously winnable. 12. Voila has been less than a length off the winner in two of her first three runs and can lead them into the straight.
BET: Quinella 7, 11.
RACE 4 (2.35pm)
4. High Bridge is bred to get this trip and couldn't have been more impressive at his Australian debut and he'll take a heap of beating. 2. White Boots is developing into a handy stayer and he likes to be up on the speed and he'll look like a winner at some stage but he might be a touch suspect over the final 100m. 6. Keep Up made up plenty of ground in higher grade last start but would love a bit of rain. 1. Dalmatia Prince is flying but has only won back-to-back races once. The trip won't be an issue for 3. Cormac, who loves Warwick Farm.
BET: HIGH BRIDGE to win.
RACE 5 (3.10pm)
13. Dolly's Due beat 1. O' So Hazy last start and will get a good run from the gate and is in the right frame of mind to win in town after a few nice previous attempts. 2. Ridicule ran less than four lengths behind boom filly Smart Melody last start and the 1200m is much more suitable now. 12. Jen Rules is looking to stay undefeated and had a nice trial ahead of this after her debut win and she'll land in a spot that she can win from. 6. Velocita will be better over more ground but can still sprint well fresh.
BET: RIDICULE to win.
RACE 6 (3.45pm)
2. Esperance can be given another chance but is costing punters after two placings when sent out well backed. He'll like getting on a bigger track now, too. 8. Up Trumpz is moving closer to a win but is stepping up in grade. 5. Chalk will probably start over the odds and the dry track helps. 10. Sanglier drops in grade, while 9. Chabreet belted them first-up at Newcastle and should go to the front and lead them. He looks to have a heap of talent. 4. Military Machine can bounce back for a formidable stable/jockey combination.
BET: CHABREET to win.
RACE 7 (4.20pm)
2. Excelsior is flying this preparation and he has a very good Warwick Farm win under his belt two starts back and wasn't disgraced behind Zourkhan in higher grade last start. 5. Love Shack Baby let the punters down last start but off a recent trial he can be forgiven and he'll do well again as long as he settles. 12. Palmateer just needs to jump evenly and she's a big player here. She just had too much to do in the final 400m last start. 6. Smart Ain't He is always competitive and it will be the same again here, while 8. Newtown Bluebag occasionally pops up and shocks his rivals.
BET: Quinella 2, 12.
RACE 8 (4.55pm)
3. Aqua D'ivina is back after a bout of colic and before that was looked to be above average and she's better than midweek grade. 1. Spring Charlie was ridden to victory at Newcastle last start by Sam Weatherley and the pair stick together, and Weatherley's claim is vital. 5. Desert Lord returns after matching it with some handy types at his first preparation and he'll be very strong to the line. 12. Danzie pretty much made two runs last start and still stuck on well to run second.
BET: AQUA D'IVINA to win.