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It's another packed day of racing across Australia on Saturday
  1. Horse Racing

Australian Racing: Castlebar Road on the path to Gunnedah glory

There's four meetings set to take place on Tuesday including from Ballarat in Victoria and two meetings from New South Wales.

Race 5 Gunnedah

Castlebar Road @ 4.20

Race 3 Wagga

Ribeauville @ 3.20

Race 1 Ballarat Synthetic

Nishino Crescent @ 1.18

Road to victory

The fifth race at Gunnedah takes the eye with the Benchmark 58 handicap set to take place over 1000m on a soft 6 surface.

The Affirmative has won three times since returning from a long absence including when impressing at Benchmark 50 level here in early March.

The mare performed well when runner-up over this distance at this level at Tamworth on her penultimate start and backed up with a solid fifth over 1100m at Armidale.

Freshened since that Armidale effort she is expected to have her supporters but looks likely to find at least one too good from a wide alley. 

With the barrier draw in mind CASTLEBAR ROAD is preferred for the Brett Robb team.

The six-year-old has placed second on two of his three starts since returning from a spell with both of those efforts coming over 1000m at Dubbo.

The second of those outings saw the gelding lose out by half-a-length on a soft 5 track on 26th June.

Barrier four is a positive for the gelding who has raced from the front in all three starts this spell and has promising apprentice Dylan Stanley taking a valuable three kilograms off.

The gelding has plenty in his favour and is taken to register his first victory since saluting over 1100m at Dubbo in June 2021. 

Ribeauville for Wagga success 

A heavy 10 track is expected at Wagga with the third race a 1600m Benchmark 58 handicap contest.

Smart Poppy has delivered some solid efforts in defeat since finishing down the field over 1000m at Albury when racing first up in May.

The most recent of those efforts saw the gelding deliver a second-place finish in a Class 1 handicap over 1400m at Narrandera last month.

Prior to that the Craig Weeding-trained four-year-old had been beaten less than two lengths in a Class 1 event over 1300m at this venue.

While that course effort took place on a heavy 10 track it remains to be seen how he will handle the track stepping up to 1600m. 

RIBEAUVILLE scraped home by a narrow margin when winning over 1500m in a Class 2 handicap at Goulburn on 16th June when last in action.

That effort marked the picks final start for this previous stable and the switch to a heavy track here is no issue.

While the pick was beaten nine lengths into fifth in a Class 3 handicap on his latest outing on a heavy surface it's notable that that effort came at Randwick last October.

The five-year-old is set an easier test here and with a good alley three off the rail looks up to saluting. 

Crescent to break maiden

The opener at Ballarat Synthetic is an intriguing 2100m maiden plate contest. 

While most of the field have had plenty of chances, including NISHINO CRESCENT it's notable that the majority of his opportunities have come in Japan.

The gelding was placed at up to 2000m there including when two lengths third on a soft turf track at Kokora in August last year.

A mid-division effort at the same venue followed prior to the son of Satono Aladdin joining the Henry Dwyer stable. 

The four-year-old was an eye-catcher when doing best of those racing from off the pace in finishing runner-up in a 1500m maiden here on his Australian debut last month.

The selection was beaten just one-and-a-half-length by an all-the-way winner on that occasion with a three-length break back to the third.

The pick is expected to appreciate the return to 2000m here and looks capable of saluting under Mitchell Aitken.

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