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Australian Racing: The Velvet Queen hard to beat

There’s plenty of action to look at this Sunday including metropolitan racing from Ascot.

Race 8 - Ascot

The Velvet Queen @ 10/11

Race 8 - Sale

He’s Heaven @ 5/1

Race 3 - Port Macquarie

Zapluck @ 11/2

Queen to rule at Ascot

The penultimate race on the Ascot card is a 1600m Benchmark 84+ contest. A soft 5 track is expected for this contest with the tracks top jockey William Pike set to partner Corn Cob.

The four-year-old showed good form when winning by a narrow margin in a Benchmark 70+ event over this track and trip last month. Followed up with a second place finish in a slightly stronger 1800m event last week. Notably both of those came on good ground with the son of Awesome Rock unproven on the soft 5 ground expected.

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A draw in eight isn’t ideal for Corn Cob and likely favourite The Velvet Queen is expected to prove hard to beat. Darren McAuliffe’s charge suffered a narrow defeat when contesting the 1800m Group 3 La Trice Classic here at the start of last month.

Followed up with a half-length triumph in a 1500m event when racing at this level just under three weeks later. Regular pilot Chris Parnham takes the ride here with the filly looking for her fourth win in six starts this spell. The selection is a proven wet track performer and looks capable of delivering a seventh career success.

Heaven to resume with Sale triumph

Sale plays host to a nine race card with the penultimate race on the card a 1203m Benchmark 78 event. With three scratchings a field of 11 are expected to line-up with Jungle Jim likely to start favourite for the Michael Moroney team.

The Canford Cliffs gelding is already a winner this spell scoring by a narrow margin in a Benchmark 78 contest over 1100m at Flemington. Went down by a length upped to 1200m at this level at the same venue subsequently however.

Has won three of his five previous starts at the distance with his only previous wet track start coming when down the field in a Geelong maiden on a heavy 8 back in 2020. Jordan Childs mount usually races from the front and while the drop to country level is a big positive a draw in barrier 12 is likely to prove an issue.

Trainer Peter Moody has a good record here in the last year with a 33% strike-rate (7/21) and his He’s Heaven is taken to deliver a victory first up. The three-year-old showed good form in Group company in 2022 including when fourth in the 1600m Group 2 Stutt Stakes at Moonee Valley in September.

Spelled since attempting to make all that day the Zoustar colt doesn’t have to front run having tracked the speed when fourth in the Group 3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes over 1200m at Caulfield in August. Jamie Kah’s mount receives weight from all bar two of his rivals here and looks up to returning with a victory.

Zapluck for Port Macquarie glory

Zapluck has been knocking on the door this spell and is taken to deliver a victory in the third at Port Macquarie. The race in question is a 1006m Benchmark 58 contest with a soft 5 track forecast.

The pick has finished placed in each of his last four starts including when two-and-a-half-lengths third in a Benchmark 58 event over 1000m at Taree last start. 

Had previously placed third on a good 4 track in an easier contest and a draw in seven here should allow the gelding to slot in behind the early speed.

Jockey Mikayla Weir was on board for the first time at Taree and retains the ride here. A dual winner at this track the son of Pluck should have no issue with the forecast soft track and he is taken to score here at the chief expense of Heir Apparent who is racing first up.

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