THRONUM - Redzel is one of the best sprinters in the world and at weight-for-age conditions from a good gate will be hard to beat but $2.30 isn’t my thing and he was beaten first-up so there is a little question mark. Thronum is from the David Hayes-Tom Dabernig stable and has been kept fresh since his narrow defeat in the group one William Reid Stakes. The 1200m is his favourite trip, he goes best when fresh and this is clearly his winter target. I expect him to be fully wound up with regular rider Mark Zahra on board and from gate three he will be sitting outside the leader all the way. This is his chance to enhance his stallion potential and at $26 is worth something each-way.
HIGHER GROUND - Trained by Chris Waller Higher Ground has been in strong form since resuming and stepped up significantly by narrowly winning a Group III last start over this trip at Randwick. A colt by So You Think out of an Encosta de Lago mare, he has a classic pedigree and like many of the stallion’s progeny is beginning to hit his straps as a late season three-year-old. He has been a consistent performer with four wins from eight career starts, continues to improve at each start and looks destined for better things. Glyn Schofield stays on and with a positive ride from gate seven Higher Ground should continue towards the Derby.
CLEAR SAILING - Clear Sailing put in a solid effort for Wayne Nugent at Toowoomba when resuming from a long break to place over 1300m when having her first outing for the stable. When in Canberra with Matthew Dale Clear Sailing placed only once in six starts but was rarely far away and always gave the impression she wanted longer which is unsurprising as her mother Laguna Lake won a Parramatta Cup over 2000m. The step up to 1400m will suit and the wide gate is of little concern as her racing pattern is to get back in running and finish off late. Clear Sailing is a well-bred mare by Not A Single Doubt from a good family and is now part-owned by Canning Downs Stud who would be hoping for a few wins to boost her broodmare potential. With Andrew Spinks to ride Clear Sailing could take a step in the right direction here and represents each-way value.
STREETS BETTER - To date Streets Better has failed to live up to his name, his price tag or his pedigree but he may have found his level in this class one over 1200m. By Street Cry out of the Blue Diamond Prelude winner Believe’n’succeed, Streets Better sold as a yearling for $925 thousand to some prominent Hong Kong owners. Sent to John Sargent he had three unsuccessful starts for that stable before being moved on to Bryan and Daniel Guy where he won convincingly at the Sunshine Coast to break his Maiden. He went awry not long after and when returning after a six-month break struggled to find form and was again spelled. Following a strong trial, Streets Better resumed in a class one here three weeks back with a good effort running fourth in a class one despite being caught wide for much of the race. The Bryan And Daniel Guy partnership has been travelling well of late and in a similar field to last time with Ryan Plumb replacing Luke Dittman, Streets Better could take another small step to returning his purchase price.
ONLY CHOICE - Goulburn trainer Kurt Goldman places his horses well and may have found the right race here for Only Choice. He is an interesting four-year-old by the French sprinter-miler Dalghar out of the high class Kiwi mare Honor Babe whose biggest win was a Sydney Cup. Only Choice has shown potential winning two of his nine starts and resumed with a solid effort at Wagga in a Benchmark 62 where Tye Angland got to the front too early in the straight and was vulnerable late. The horse goes best when his runs are spaced and with a four-week break should be cherry ripe for this Benchmark 65 where he drops 1.5kg from his last outing. Luke Rolls takes the mount and from gate five over 1400m should get a good run throughout and be too strong over the final stages.