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Australian Racing: Empress Of India can dazzle at Belmont

There are metro meetings at Warwick Farm, Sandown Hillside, Doomben and Belmont Park, plus a provincial fixture at Balaklava for punters to get stuck into on Wednesday.

Race 3 Warwick Farm

Okataina @ 3.20

Race 4 Sandown Hillside

Zaynudin @ 3.40

Race 3 Belmont Park

Empress Of India @ 2.50

Okataina for Warwick Farm glory

The third race on the Warwick Farm card is an interesting 2200m Benchmark 72 handicap set to take place on a good 4 surface.

Trainer John O’Shea sends out Awesome Wonder here and she is expected to have her supporters, as she has placed in two of her three starts since winning over 1600m at Wyong in June.

That Wyong success came at Benchmark 64 level, but the mare has proven she can compete in a higher grade since, including when runner-up in a Benchmark 78 race at Randwick nine days later. 

A disappointing effort back at Randwick followed for Awesome Wonder, but she then finished runner up in a Benchmark 70 event over 2400m at Sandown Hillside last month.

While the five-year-old ticks plenty of boxes here, preference is for OKATAINA.

The four-year-old represents the powerful Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott training partnership and registered a good second when attempting to make all over 2130m here on 19th July.

The pick usually races from the front and did so on that occasion, going down by a neck in a competitive 10-runner affair.

The gelding was racing at Benchmark 64 level on that occasion, but ran well in a couple of Benchmark 72 events earlier this spell, including at Canterbury three starts back.

The extra distance here shouldn’t inconvenience the Savabeel gelding too much and he looks capable of saluting for Adam Hyeronimus. 

Zaynudin for Sandown success 

Top weight Pachino looks to hold strong claims of taking the fourth at Sandown Hillside.

The race concerned is a 2400m Benchmark 64 handicap, with a good 4 track expected for the 12-runner contest.

Pachino hails from the in-form Ben Brisbourne stable and showed a liking for this venue, especially when winning by a narrow margin in a course and distance Benchmark 70 handicap here last month.

The five-year-old had ZAYNUDIN back in third on that occasion, but on these terms Zaynudin looks capable of reversing that form.

The pick showed good form in maiden company in Ireland prior to breaking his maiden in a 2816m contest in August last year.

The gelding switched hemispheres following a subsequent handicap fourth and, while yet to win since the move, he has acquitted himself well on all three occasions.

Mark Zahra is a positive jockey booking here and he looks capable of steering home the Tom Dabernig-trained six-year-old. 

Empress to rule at Belmont

The third race at Belmont Park is a Class 1 1000m handicap event, which is likely to take place on a soft 5 surface.

EMPRESS OF INDIA is expected to prove hard to beat here having shown good form in three starts to date.

The pick broke her maiden first up in a 1000m contest on a soft 5 track here in July last year, while she followed that up with a good fourth over the same track and trip in a set weights contest.

The filly trialled a couple of times in late 2022, but had been out of race action for nearly 12 months prior to resuming with a close second over this track and trip on a soft 5 track last month.

The selection was beaten by a narrow margin that day, but she looks capable of registering her second-career success now.

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