ANOTHER DOLLAR - I tipped her last start and whilst well beaten by Torvill wasn’t helped by being caught wide and then going forward mid-race which used her up before the home turn. Another Dollar fought on well for third and whilst she has drawn the car park once again this is 2000m and Jeff Lloyd can get her away and allow her to find cover midfield. Whilst I remain convinced this Ocean Park filly trained by Chris Waller will be a much better four-year-old, Another Dollar is doing enough to keep me more than interested and this race could be her ticket into the Oaks.
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.
REAL KNUCKY - Real Knucky has had a long run of outs, and hasn’t won since November last year, but he gets a winnable race here and the right draw. He is racing in an easier class than what he has been and draws behind a horse that looks the likely leader. It has been a while since he has that soft run where he doesn’t have to come around horses, the big field should ensure a solid tempo, look for him late along the sprint lane.
DIAMONDSFROMHEAVEN - There will be a short-priced favourite drawn the pole here, Betting Baron, and it will be awfully hard to beat so the interest will be getting the speed map right to see what can run the placings. Kaanapali looks the obvious choice drawn directly on its back and Diamondsfromheaven should be a big price and go straight to the pegs also. When these shorties are driven aggressively in front, quite often the field breaks up and the pegs horses dominate, and the leaders back sometimes struggles as they have to do all the chasing. This will give Diamondsfromheaven the perfect run into it and may even be able to snag second place at a price.
ROSARITO BEACH - Huli Nien will be a short priced-favourite here off the pole, he looks very hard to beat as he has the gate speed to lead. Rosarito Beach is drawn to get the perfect sit on his back, he has been good in all his runs barring two starts back when he was beaten out of sight by Australia’s top juvenile Centenario, but there are not many that can keep up with him! With no sprint lane in operation here at Ballarat, look for the driver of the pole horse to be stacking them up as long as he can, making it a sprint-up the straight where Rosarito Beach will be climbing all over the back of them.
VICSTAR SHARAZZZ - Vicstar Sharazzz has only had the one start but forget that he even went around. He was drawn inside the back line and well favoured, was shuffled out to last with a lap to go before carnage occurred in front of him, resulting in him being severely checked and pulled up. He had trialled well enough here last month, sat third before pulling three-wide and hit the lead briefly before being run down late by an older horse. He obviously has ability and away from the very short priced favourite, it looks an open race.
LIVING DOLL - The former Victorian Living Doll looks well placed to record her first NSW win in the Hygain Release Class 1 Handicap (1200m). Originally trained by Matthew Ellerton and Simon Zahra, Living Doll will be having her third run for Moruya trainer Natalie Jarvis after finishing in the placings at Moruya and Goulburn in her two runs for the stable. A Colac maiden winner over 1200m on December 16, Living Doll gets to the journey for the first time this preparation and is ready to win peaking third-up.