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Australian Racing: Panda Drum can beat Grafton rivals

There are five meetings set to take place on Thursday including at Grafton where a soft 5 track is expected.

Race 4 Grafton 

Panda Drum @ 10.00  

Race 8 Pakenham 

Grey Northern @ 4.00  

Race 6 Bunbury 

Hesket @ 4.60

Drum to break maiden

The most valuable race on the Grafton card is the fourth race of the day, a $50,000 1410m maiden plate contest.

Procyon Miss registered a number of barrier trials prior to making her debut, with the final one of those seeing her impress in winning over 1050m at Beaudesert.

The filly was beaten just over one-and-a-half-lengths when debuting in a 1200m maiden at Sunshine Coast subsequently.

That Sunshine Coast effort came on a good 4 surface, with the filly expected to have no issues with the forecast soft 5 track, having not been beaten far in similar conditions in one of her barrier trials.

PANDA DRUM caught the eye when jumping at odds of $81, prior to registering a fourth over this trip at Sunshine Coast when debuting at the end of last month.

The selection showed improvement in his second barrier trial, delivering a third-place finish at Beaudesert 19 days prior.

The son of Husson raced from off the pace in the previously mentioned Sunshine Coast contest but kept on nicely to be beaten five lengths in the end.

While that form has yet to be properly tested, the winner and sixth have both registered placed efforts subsequently. 

Grey for Pakenham glory

The finale at Pakenham is an interesting 1400m Benchmark 64 handicap contest.

A good 4 surface is expected with the Ben, JD & Will Hayes-trained I Never Dreamed expected to start favourite.

The filly made the perfect start to her racing career when saluting by four lengths in a 1200m maiden on a good 4 track at Swan Hill at the end of last month.

Only six ran on that occasion, with the only horse in the field to race subsequently, second home She’ll Be Right finished down the field at Hamilton last week.

Barrier nine isn’t ideal for the daughter of Shamus Award, given she raced close to the speed on debut and, while open to improvement, it can pay to look elsewhere here. 

Simon Zahra saddles GREY NORTHERN in this contest, with the filly having shown that she can go well fresh when breaking her maiden over this course and distance when racing first up in her last spell.

The selection was highly tried in metro company subsequently, including when eight-lengths eighth over 2000m at Flemington in May.

The drop back in distance suited in her last two starts however, with the drop to Benchmark 58 level seeing her follow up a second at Geelong with a win over 1600m on the synthetic track here in July. 

Blake Shinn’s mount is expected to be sharp for her return to action and, with a good barrier four from the rail, she looks capable of delivering a first up victory here. 

Hesket to triumph at Bunbury

The sixth at Bunbury takes the eye with the 1414m Class 5 handicap attracting 11 declarations.

HESKET, for the Dylan Bairstow stable, is one of those and he is taken to deliver his first victory of this spell.

The selection has placed on two of his three starts this time around, with the sole exception coming in a 1400m Class 3 handicap at Ascot.

The gelding finished 10th of 12 in a first-time visor that day but came close to registering a victory when beaten less than a length into second in a similar contest there at the start of this month.

Steven Parnham’s mount has a good alley here and, with the blinkers worn last time out retained here, he is taken to deliver his third career win. 

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