“The nation roars for a hero!”… after some uncertain times midweek, with the cancellation of racing in Australia on Wednesday and Thursday (bar Narromine), the long awaited COVID-19 test for Mark Zahra returned negative, and just like that racing was back on throughout the country for the weekend. And aren’t we glad, because before us we have an outstanding day, including two Group 1’s at Rosehill in the Tancred Stakes and the Vinery Stud Stakes, while down in Victoria, Bendigo hosts one of its feature meetings for the year. With 12 other meetings likely to go ahead across the country, let’s have a look at PlayUp form analyst Lewis Willoughby’s top five plays of the day:
Bendigo:R2 #6 Write Your Name $4.40 at PlayUp – Returns from a freshen after a promising win over the 1400m at Ballarat in equal grade. He sat outside the lead on that occasion and was dominant late through the line. Coming here today fresh and back slightly in distance is a promising move, and from barrier 4 I expect him to be in a very similar position to his last start win, sitting outside the lead or at least very handy to the speed. The 60kg is no worry, as he is well weighted in comparison to others in the field. Further, his stats on paper are very good, 4:2-1-0 fresh, 2:1-1-0 at 1300m, and 4:2-2-0 when racing at Bendigo. It all adds up for him to be the winner.
Bendigo R4 #6 River Night $3.90 at PlayUp This very talented filly for the Ellerton/Zahra team continues her preparation here. A last start dominant winner in a small field at Caulfield, she yet again recorded the fastest last 600m sectional of the entire meeting. Two starts back she was unlucky not to win when recording similarly quick sectionals, so she is clearly racing in outstanding form. This will likely be her hardest test to date, but there is no reason she cannot be very competitive. From barrier 8 she likely pushes forward to find cover near the speed, loves racing at this 1000m distance and the way she continually reels off better figures than her rivals tells me she is the one to beat.
Bendigo R6 #9 Miss Mandito $21 at PlayUp– Having a throw at the stumps here on something rough, in what is a very open race with a large number of chances. She comes here off a freshen while still holding residual fitness from two races in February, the latter being a strong 2nd placing in the G3 Vamos Stakes at Launceston. Sticks to the 1400m where she is most effective, her stats reading 8:4-1-1, and is twice placed fresh from four attempts also. The dry conditions will help her cause, and from barrier 12 she hopefully slots in for cover somewhere midfield. I concede that other horses in this race may be more likely to win, but at a big double figure quote I would be having a small each way bet on this horse.
Rosehill:R1 #10 Royal Celebration $3.20 at PlayUp – Looks the clear top chance here in the opener, this Ron Quinton galloper has been building solidly towards a win through all four runs in this prep. He should be peaking here fifth up, and will be rock hard fit courtesy of a hard slog last start when 2nd over 1350m on a heavy 10 at Rosehill. Sticks to the same grade, and has never missed a top two finish at the 1400m (5:3-2-0). Loves racing at Rosehill, well weighted, and with any luck from barrier 12 he can be right in the finish.
Rosehill R6 #9 Verry Elegant $2.00 at PlayUp – Comes here on the quick back up fourth up, after a stirring battle in the G1 Ranvet last week with Addeybb. This mare claimed the lead, only to be overhauled again late by the star British stayer. Should be at peak fitness by this point in the prep, is drawn well and surely top chance to rejoin the winners list. Other competitors in this field had their colours lowered in recent starts, so this gives Verry Elleegant top chance to assert her staying dominance. I would advise against taking any price lower than even money, but she is still a bet at her current quote.