Trainer Warren Gavenlock thinks Alpine Racer could be his next Plonka and if that proves to be true he should be very hard to beat.
Plonka is enjoying a spell after his gallant third in the Country Championships Final last month.
“He’ll be back in work next week,” Gavenlock said. “The Kosciuszko has always been our aim with him.
“I always thought he would race well in the Country Championships Final, which he did and we all but won that.
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“He was four and five wide the trip and still boxed on. He got beaten by a long neck so you’d be hard-pressed not to like what he did.”
Gavenlock may head to Brisbane with Plonka for a Class 5 race and despite running so well in the Country Championships, he will need to produce that type of form again to keep him in the back of the minds of potential slot-holders.
“He’ll come back a better horse and if we can win first-up with him he’ll have to be a good chance of getting a slot,” Gavenlock said.
BEST BETS WITH MATT JONES: PORT MACQUARIE
BEST BET: NIGHTMARE (Race 2 No.4)
He was very good in hitting the line hard last time over a slightly shorter trip and she looks hard to hold out at her home track.
JOCKEY TO FOLLOW: Luke Rolls
rides the Marc Quinn pair of Nightmare and Sylvia’s Memory and the latter has a wide gate so his ride will be vital as it will on Honovi.
BEST BETS WITH MATT JONES: KEMBLA GRANGE
BEST BET: SEBOURG (Race 4 No.8)
She ran placings on both occasions at her first preparation and has trialled up like she can take that next step to a win now.
NEXT BEST: EXTREME JEWEL (Race 7 No.6)
This filly is fourth-up now and put in a great run over 1500m last start and will love the 1600m.
BEST EXOTIC: QUADDIE
Leg 1: 2, 5, 8
Leg 2: 1, 6, 8
Leg 3: 1, 2, 3
Leg 4: 1, 5, 6, 7
TRAINER TO WATCH: Gary Portelli
has three genuine chances running at Kembla Grange and all of them, Sebourg, Lord Zoulander and Extreme Jewel, can win.
On the mid-north coast, Alpine Racer will take on stablemate Surmise in a Maiden Handicap (1200m).
“It looks like a good race for both of them but I’d probably lean a little towards Alpine Racer,” Gavenlock said. “He’s already had the run this time in.”
Alpine Racer comes into the race off a fourth placing at Tamworth three weeks ago.
He’s still learning his craft heading into start three.
Cejay Graham will ride him out of barrier five and he should get the perfect run in behind the speed.
“He just got a bit lost at Tamworth over the 1000m first-up after a long trip but he hit the line nicely,” Gavenlock said.
“He was immature and we needed to give him plenty of time. He got a cold and I wanted to give him a long break to get him ready again.
“He’s taken a lot out of that first-up run and he’s a smart horse. He’s just been a bit of a slow learner.”
Surmise will jump out alongside him in gate three with Darryl McLellan on board and he’s first-up off a winning trial over 1006m at Grafton.
Surmise has shown good promise in his three starts, never running more than two lengths behind the winner. He also got better with each start at his first preparation.
“Surmise was nominated a few weeks ago at Grafton and I thought he could go there and win over 1100m, but he had a slight temperature so we didn’t run him,” Gavenlock said.
“I think he’s going to be there when the whips are cracking.”
Gavenlock is also trying to get Sneaky Gal a run in the third race on the card.
The emergency is relying on a few scratchings to get a run.
She’s unplaced in all five starts but has been honest each time she’s stepped out onto a track.
Sneaky Gal just needs to improve two lengths to get a win.
“She’s been a little disappointing,” Gavenlock said. “She showed promise early but hasn’t gone on with it.
“She’s first-up after a trial and she should race well.”
LAZZARINI TO TEST RECRUITS OVER MORE GROUND
Brett Lazzarini has only recently taken over training Nindamos from Amy Usher so he won’t start accepting credit for the horse’s form yet leading into just his second official start for him.
The Exceed And Excel four-year-old will line up in a Benchmark 70 Handicap (1200m) after producing an eye-catching run fresh over 1100m at Canterbury when coming from 10th at the 400m to run half a length second to Mansa Musa.
He was originally trained at Godolphin and has won three times in 11 starts. He also has three placings so he has been an honest customer.
“It was a big run first-up and Amy Usher has to get credit for that because I basically took over that day,” Lazzarini said.
“He seems to go well and I know his second-up form is quite average, but he’s worked quite well since his last run.
“I was very impressed with his work on Saturday morning. We expect him to run a bold race and he can win it. He does have 61.5kg on his back, though, so he’s got a task.”
Winona Costin will ride Nindamos from barrier nine and he will look to grab them late from an off-speed position.
“He could win without surprising me but he will improve on what he does at this run,” Lazzarini said.
“He’ll definitely get to a mile. We’ve got a couple of races earmarked for him in town.”
Rubielie is another stable additions. The Rubick filly is running in a Maiden Plate (1200m) after finishing sixth first-up over 1000m.
“We’ll definitely see some improvement but she’s the same, she wants more ground,” Lazzarini said.
“She went into that first-up run without a trial and performed quite reasonably.”
Rubielie’s a long shot but Lazzarini believes she’s worth a look.
“There’s a chance she could run a hole at big odds even though you won’t see the best of her until she gets up to a mile,” Lazzarini said.
“She’s been working well and we’ve been training her to get back in her races and relax.
“The track won’t hinder them and it will even them all up a bit over that last furlong.”
INSIDE MAIL WITH MATT JONES: KEMBLA GRANGE
With six placings from 10 runs, Bluff ‘N’ Bluster has to win one soon and he comes into this off a great third at Canterbury last start and the wet weather about won’t hurt his chances and he’s drawn much better now. Explosive Truth is back from a spell and he should be an even better horse going off his trial form and his one effort last year was a good one in town. Sebourg resumes off two placings to start his career and he could have easily won both races. Lady Herbert is another who is capable
Bet: Sebourg to win
Pioneer has done virtually all his racing at this track and he rarely puts in a bad run so he can be trusted to be there when the whips are cracking. Lord Zoulander produced an eye-catching run last start in a higher grade and he’s fit and ready to fire again. Sybella won on debut and the stable is taking their time with her and it is paying off and she should enjoy the sting out of the track. Tawaret resumes and if she reproduced the form she showed late last preparation she’ll be hard to beat.
Bet: Tawaret to win
Nindamos will nearly start favourite and his talent alone can get him a win after a slashing first-up run. He hasn’t done anything in two second-up runs and does want further so keep that in mind. The stable say a win wouldn’t surprise them. Budderoo Knight thumped them last time at this track and in the same grade of race so if the extra 3kg in weight doesn’t bother him he’ll be a force here because he runs well fresh. Catapult chases a hat-trick of wins and the 1200m looks ideal for him and he won’t mind a wet track so a few things are in his favour up in grade.
Bet: Budderoo Knight to win
Qinghai Lake drops 3.5kg after a good run at Goulburn last time and he’s going to enjoy the conditions here fourth-up and will run the mile out strongly. Extreme Jewel ran a good race here last start and the extra 100m is ideal and she’ll look to come over the top of them late. Bullet Fly should be finishing off this race strongly and he’s an improver off a fifth placing at the track last start when looking strong enough through the line.
Bet: Extreme Jewel to win
INSIDE MAIL WITH MATT JONES: PORT MACQUARIE
Divisadero is ready to run a big race third-up after two improving runs this time in and as long as she handles the quick back up she’ll go close. Sylvia’s Memory has only won one from four but she has ran into Sawn Passage and Bivouac so that’s a good excuse for not winning on those occasions. She gets the blinkers for the first time. Danger Woman was just as good as Sylvia’s Memory when they met last start and she was held up for a stride or two on that occasion before being strong through the line.
Bet: Quinella 7, 10
New Major goes up to another grade here after a winning last start and off that run it’s easy to think he’ll go to another level from an ideal gate. Revenire finds his easiest race in some time and on his city form it’s hard to think he won’t be in the finish. Nosey also has city form to suggest he could win this. He’s run behind Indy Car and Burning Crown of late so this is much easier. French Command is a 10-year-old but did win its 145th start last time.
Bet: Exacta 3, 1
My Desire has a wide gate but that’s not always a bad thing at Port Macquarie, particularly is the track is wet and she’ll likely go back from the draw and be coming home hard down the best part of a track she’s already won at. O’Driscoll hasn’t been winning this time in but he’s good enough on his day to be in the finish here. Stylish Pattern got better second-up which was a good sign for a third-up run. Jot For Us drops in grade after solid performances at the provincials and handles wet ground.
Bet: My Desire to win
Bravio comes off a confidence boosting win but has never had a wide draw like he gets Tuesday but he’ll look to be on the speed and giving a good sight. Thunderous Strike has a second-up win to his name already and was good fresh last start off a long break which bodes well for this run at a more suitable trip. Diddly Dee is first-up off two trials and although she wants further she’s had a good grounding for this assignment. Brother Magic comes off a career-worst run but has the blinkers back on and trialled up very well.
Bet: Brother Magic to win