ANIMAL SPIRITS - Trained by Brian and Daniel Guy, this Spirit Of Boom filly placed at debut in Saturday city company then finished well back when taking on stronger two-year-old company at her next start. Animal Spirits is resuming after a 21-week break and has benefited from two trials. She will be wound up for this first-up effort and with Chris Whitely to ride should be handy throughout. The sire has produced 15 individual winners in his first season and Animal Spirits can be number 16.
BENICO’S PRINCE - They don’t make them much tougher than this Benicio six-year-old who has had 18 starts this preparation but has been very consistent particularly around the 1600m to 1700m journey where he has won twice and finished in the top four six times in 10 tries. Trained by Peter Kings at Oakey, Benico’s Prince thrives on racing and is not afraid of the quick back-up. At his most recent outing he put in a good solid effort at very long odds behind Denbern at the Gold Coast over 1800m and is backing up six days later over the more suitable 1680m in much weaker company. At his last start here in the same class and distance in February he won by seven lengths on a soft track and is likely to get the same conditions again. Six of his nine career wins have been with Nozi Tomizawa up and this could be number seven.
HOWICK - Howick was caught wide but ran on well when resuming at her first run for Kelly Doughty in a Fillies and Mares class one at the Gold Coast. She was previously with David Kelly and has been lightly raced with a win at Grafton and three placings from six starts. She will be improved by her first-up outing, Jim Byrne gets on and should find 1350m suitable. With only 54kg Howick can be handy throughout and strongest late.
DROICHAID - Mazaz is favourite so I have to play. This imported stayer has been doing a solid job in his first three Australian starts and Saturday’s race is the first time I suspect he gets to a trip that’s going to suit. Caught the eye first-up then scored a good win, given a five-week break then returned and bumped into the progressive Goathland last time, that horse is in Brisbane on Saturday for a Group III race. Droichard was doing his best work late last time, in a manner that suggested he wants ground, which he gets here. Got his share of weight but this is a big class drop and I expect him to prove too good.
GRAND ROSSO - This bloke’s a new addition to the Peter and Paul Snowden stable. He’s a former Victorian-trained accomplished galloper, a multiple stakes winner with a solid record at 1400m, so I love the fact he’s at 1300m fresh. His first trial was quiet without the blinkers, which went on in his second trial and what a trial it was, towing his rider to the line to win it in good style. Peter Snowden’s a Scone boy that normally sets a few for this carnival and I have a sneaking suspicion, that’s the case with this horse so at these odds, I’m jumping aboard.