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Australian Racing: Valenti's Gold looks good for a hat-trick

There are four meetings set to take place on Monday, including two from New South Wales, with both Muswellbrook and Sapphire Coast set to stage racing action.

Race 7 Esperance

Gambler's Gold @ 5.00

Race 4 Muswellbrook

Damascus Gate @ 6.00

Race 4 Sapphire Coast

Funky Little Shack @ 4.20

Gold to complete a treble

Esperance in Western Australia are set to stage an eight-race meeting, with the penultimate race on the card a 2000m Benchmark 70+ handicap event.

Wheatstack Thief is sure to have his supporters, having performed well in defeat here in recent starts, including when runner-up on two of his last three starts.

Those starts include a length defeat over 1600m when contesting a similar race to this and the step up in distance is no issue having run well over this track and trip in the past. 

Jane Hosell’s gelding jumps from barrier 13 here, however, and the Yannick Valenti-trained GAMBLER'S GOLD is the pick on this occasion.

The five-year-old is chasing a hat-trick here, having won at this venue on each of his last two starts including when successful by a length over 1400m last month.

The 5.00 gelding stepped up to this Benchmark 70+ level when successful by two lengths in a 1600m handicap here subsequently, with both of those efforts coming on the good 4 going forecast here.

The son of War Chant had a number of his rivals here behind him last time out, including the previously mentioned Wheatstack Thief and shaped as if the extra distance would prove no issue.

Jockey Kyra Yuill, on board that day, is again in the saddle and jumping from an inside alley she can steer her mount to his third consecutive success. 

Gate goes for Muswelbrook success

The fourth race of the day at Muswellbrook is a 1450m Benchmark 58 handicap set to take place on a soft 5 track.

Ensign Parker is expected to start as favourite, having registered his only previous victory at this venue when contesting a 1280m maiden back in October.

The three-year-old won by a length on that occasion, however it came on a firm 2 track and the gelding heads into this contest on the back of a below par effort over 1312m at Taree.

Preference in this contest is for DAMASCUS GATE, who arrives here in good form as the winner of two of his last three starts.

The first of those wins came by a narrow margin in a 1400m Class 3 handicap held on a heavy 8 track at Tuncurry on 20th January.

The 6.00 selection has made two subsequent starts including when making all the running when contesting a 1614m Benchmark 58 handicap on a soft 5 track at Taree earlier this month.

Millie Thompson, on board for both of those victories, returns to the saddle here, having been absent for the gelding’s recent sixth when jumping at big odds for a 1550m event at Canterbury.

While barrier nine isn’t ideal with regard to the expected tactics, the son of American Pharoah overcame barrier ten at Taree and is selected to return to the winner’s enclosure.

Shack to shine at Sapphire Coast

The Merimbula Cup, a Benchmark 58 handicap set to take place over 1408m is the most valuable contest on the Sapphire Coast card.

The race is due to take place as the fourth race of the day, with a good 4 surface expected.

FUNKY LITTLE SHACK demonstrated good form at this level in November, placing twice, including when one-and-a-half-lengths second over 1400m on a soft 6 track on 27th November.

The 4.20 five-year-old was freshened following that effort and returned to action with a third in a Class 1 handicap over the same course and distance earlier this month.

The gelding is a versatile type with regards to tactics and jockey Molly Bourke should have options on that front jumping from barrier four.

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