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Moruya trainer Steve Stephens knows The Blues Brother is in a purple patch and thinks he can give his rivals a stern test in the Fred Cooper Cup (1600m).
The Hussonet six-year-old has won two of his past three, with a second placing in the middle, including a 1½-length triumph in a Benchmark 66 race at the Sapphire Coast last start over 1608m.
Stephens knows The Blues Brother is taking a leap up in grade but also that he has him at his best and he deserves a shot at a country cup.
MATT JONES’S BEST BEST FOR GOULBURN
BEST BET: PINDUS (Race 3, No.8)
Easiest assignment to date after racing top juveniles. Ready to break through after three runner-up placings in four starts.
NEXT BEST: EFFICENTLY (Race 4, No.3)
Forget she ran seventh last start because she was slowly away and couldn’t get a clear run in straight. Can bounce back.
BEST VALUE: Beaufort Park (Race 5, No.1)
First starter, so going off trial form. It looked pretty good and if he can slot into a nice spot from an awkward gate, he can finish it off well.
BEST EXOTIC: QUADDIE
Race 4: 2, 3, 4
Race 5: 1, 4, 8, 12
Race 6: 1, 8, 10, 11
Race 7: 3, 6, 10, 12.
TRAINER TO WATCH
James Cummings could snare a winning double with Pindus and Efficiently. Pauper and Paua can’t be discounted too.
JOCKEY TO WATCH
James Innes’s rides — Lincoln Country, Elusive Nature and Beaufort Park — look nice hopes.
“He’s a pretty honest horse who tries hard, so we’re hoping for the best again,” Stephens said.
“He’s in form and doing well. We have planned to race him in this race, then we’ll go to the Bega Cup Prelude next start and take it from there. He’s had a good preparation.”
Michael Travers will again be aboard The Blues Brother and probably take advantage of the inside draw.
He’s likely to ride him similarly to last start when he took the lead approaching the home turn and ran away from his rivals.
Stephens said he didn’t have to give the experienced Travers any instructions.
“He’s a pretty versatile horse and he picks his position pretty well,” he said. “Depending on what the pace is like in the race, he can come from behind or lead.
“I’ll leave it up to the jockey. I think he will probably end up near the box seat and he doesn’t mind some give in the track, either.”
The Blues Brother has nice enough form around him, too.
He beat home Inch Perfect last start, and she was unlucky when held up in a strong race at Canberra on Sunday.
Denman Flyer is the other Stephens runner on the card and he races in a Benchmark 58 Handicap (1200m) after running third last start at the Sapphire Coast.
He will be ridden by Travers out of barrier eight and will look to come across the field and lead.
“It was a good run last start, we were quite happy with it, and hopefully he can race well again in this race,” Stephens said.
“He likes to lead when he can. This is his fourth start this preparation and he’s drawn wide every time.”
Despite the fact his heavy record reads well on paper, Stephens wants the track to dry out for his Denman seven-year-old.
The track was rated a soft five yesterday and Stephens wants a possible thunderstorm to miss the track in the lead-up to the race.
“He should race well if the track is okay for him,” Stephens said.
“He doesn’t like the wet. He’s won on the heavy before but that was at Bega, which is one of his pet tracks.”
Both horses are in good form and Stephens said the leading pick was a tough choice. He thinks they are both good each-way chances if they get even luck in the run.
DROP IN DISTANCE CAN HELP COURRIER DELIVER
Trainers Robert and Luke Price have decided a return to 1400m is what First Courrier needs to win again.
The Shellscrape five-year-old races in a Class 3 Handicap (1400m) at Goulburn after two sound runs over 1600m at the provincials.
First Courrier won first-up over 1400m and the team thinks bringing him back in trip is the best thing for him.
“We’re expecting a forward showing,” Robert Price said.
“I think he’s better suited to the shorter distance at the moment where he can sit off them and come home rather than punch him up in trip too quickly.
“We stepped him up in trip too quickly. He went from a 1400m first-up win to a mile.
“We’ve decided we’ll let him catch his breath before we go back up in trip again.
“He likes Goulburn. Most of his good performances there have been over further but I just think it would be better to ride him quiet over a shorter trip at the moment.”
Price thinks it will also help First Courrier when he again races over 2000m this preparation.
“It will keep him sharp,” he said.
“You need them to be sharp these days in the staying races, too. You can’t just plug around to win.”
First Courrier will be ridden by Jess Taylor out of barrier three and should get a cushy run off the speed at a track he has loved in the past.
The team also saddles up first starter Kentucky Award in a Maiden Handicap (1300m) and the Shamus Award three-year-old will eventually get out to 2000m.
“He’s a middle-distance type horse so he will probably need the day out,” Price said. “You can keep trialling him but he will take more benefit out of a race start.”
The team will race Sheriff either today (race three) or tomorrow on the Kensington track at Randwick and he’s a progressive type.
“He would have almost been a certainty at Goulburn but the James Cummings horse (Pindus) is in good form,” Price said.
INSIDE MAIL WITH MATT JONES: GOULBURN
Mookareena brings nice Highway form into the race. It was Class 2 Highway, though, and most of those races are stronger Class 3 events. She’s still the one to beat. Only Choice also drops back from a Highway race (Class 3) and will be a threat. First Courrier comes back in trip so it will be interesting to see if he can repeat his first-up winning effort over the same distance (1400m) after two 1600m runs. The stable is confident. Sherpa Trail is back after running 10th first-up. He was coughing after the race and lethargic for days after it. He’s a chance if he has bounced back off that.
Bet: Mookareena to win.
Newtown Is Coming gets back on his home track after a nice last-start win. The extra 100m in trip will suit. All Sassitude had too much to do last start and barrier one this time will allow her to race in her usual pattern, which means she can turn things around. Denman Flyers wants the track to dry out despite having good wet form on paper, while Fly Forward will race his usual good race at a track he loves. Yalanji can win again with Christian Reith back on and he’s nice and fit now third-up.
Bet: Fly Forward to win
Pindus almost beat Zousain on debut but that’s been the story of his career — three seconds from four runs. This is his chance to break through. If Sheriff runs he will test him, while first starter Lincoln County comes out of a top yard and into this off a fairly soft trial. Barrier one also helps. You won’t miss the grey King Billy, who looks to have returned a better horse for his second preparation. The Godolphin runner is the clear top pick.
Bet: Pindus to win
Efficiently was slow into stride first-up and stuck behind a wall of horses the whole way. Was basically jogging in the straight when unable to get a run. With better luck today she can go close. Micks New Chick has returned well with a couple of placings. She will take advantage of barrier one and give herself every chance on the speed. Elusive Nature ran third behind The Art Of The Bar at Kembla Grange. She has gone on to win twice in town, so there’s a nice form line. Indiana Star trialled up strongly ahead of her debut and races on her home track.
Bet: Exacta 3, 4
Beaufort Park is one of many on debut and looked to be ready to race off his last trial, which was a good one. Just needs a little luck from a wide gate. He looked a touch better than Paua in that same trial but don’t rule out the Godolphin runner. Another first starter, Couru, will likely go forward from a wide gate, cross the field and give a good kick in the straight. Win ‘N’ Grin should appreciate a rise in trip and has race experience on his side.
Bet: Beaufort Park to win
Triple Hero will find this much easier than last start when fourth to Tunero and he’s the one to beat. But he’s not a $2 chance so watch the betting. If he’s too short, look for some value. The Blues Brother might be one to look at. He’s in career-best form and will love the track conditions. Le Cavalier will likely get back from a wide gate and look for him to come home hard if he gets luck in the run. She Can Kiss has won four races and they have all been at Goulburn, so expect a top run.
Bet: Triple Hero to win
Time To Rethink has shown her best form up over 2000m and more and comes into this off a four-length win over the same trip. There’s no reason why she can’t go back-to-back. Hilltop Hood is a similar type who loves to stay. Will race well but needs to be at his absolute best to win. Opera Tickets beat him home last start and again there’s no difference between them at the weights. Picaro will likely get back from the wide gate and he proved last start he can make up ground in the straight, so he’s one to watch.
Bet: Time To Rethink to win