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Australian Racing: Hot Bandit has Muswellbrook glory in his sights

There are four meetings due to take place on Thursday including an eight-race card at Yarra Valley.

Race 2 Yarra Valley

Jessup @ 2.10 

Race 6 Muswellbrook

Hot Bandit @ 6.50 

Race 4 Gatton

Basil’s Bow @ 4.80

Jessup to break maiden

The second race at Yarra Valley is an interesting 1009m maiden plate contest.

A good 4 track is expected for the nine-runner affair, with Ortega expected to have his supporters, having shown good form when placed in three of his five starts in 2023. 

The most recent of those saw the gelding finish two-and-a-half-lengths second in an 1100m maiden held on a soft 6 Bendigo in August.

The son of Rich Enuff tracked the pace on that occasion and, while Michael Kent’s inmate looks to hold strong claims, preference here is for JESSUP from the Grahame Begg stable.

Begg has won with both of his starters at this track in the last 12 months and his representative has shown good form on a sound surface in the past.

The gelding has recorded placed efforts in all four previous starts on good ground, with those outings including three second-place finishes.

The most recent of those placed efforts saw the pick deliver a length second in a 1200m maiden on a good 4 track at Mornington on 27th October. 

The son of Epaulette raced from the front on that occasion but has performed well when racing from off the pace in the past, including when third over 1221m at Geelong three starts back.

The selection has been freshened since his most recent outing and, with regular jockey Jordan Childs up, he looks capable of breaking his maiden with blinkers applied for the first time. 

Bandit for Muswellbrook success

The Paul Messara & Leah Gavranich team saddle their first runner since before Christmas on the Muswellbrook card and look to hold strong claims in each of the last three races.

They send out Ferro Vero who is expected to jump as favourite for the penultimate race of the day, a 1280m Class 1 handicap set to take place on a soft 5 surface. 

The three-year-old was slowly away prior to breaking his maiden by a narrow margin in a 1000m event at Scone in November when racing first up.

The gelding had shown solid form in three starts at two prior to that but found metro company too hot, when down the field over 1400m at Randwick when last in action on 9th December.

Aaron Bullock’s mount has a wide alley to overcome here and HOT BANDIT is preferred for the Luke Pepper stable. 

The gelding broke his maiden when winning over 1100m when tackling a maiden contest held on a soft 6 track at Scone last August.

The selection had debuted with a narrow defeat when runner-up over 1000m at Muswellbrook 10 days earlier.

While the three-year-old could finish only fifth when beaten five lengths over 1100m in a Benchmark 58 handicap at Scone first up this spell, he is expected to appreciate the step up in trip here.

Mitchell Bell, on board for all three previous starts, is again in the saddle and the pair can score on their return to soft going. 

Bow for Gatton glory

Trainer Tom Dougall can boast a 40% strike-rate (6/15) with his runners in the last 30 days and his gelding BASIL’S BOW takes the eye in the fourth race at Gatton.

The five-year-old is set to contest a 1600m Class 3 handicap, having delivered a two-length victory over this trip on a good 3 track at Nanango last month.

While the gelding has shown his best form when racing close to or on the speed, he did deliver a solid fourth at Ipswich when ridden from mid-division back in November.

The step up in distance appeared to suit at Nanango and, while he has yet to encounter a soft 6 track, he had no issue with a soft 5 when saluting in impressive fashion at Dalby two months ago.

Jockey Chris Meehan, on board for the previously mentioned Nanango success, is again in the saddle and he can steer the Golden Archer gelding to victory. 

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