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  1. Horse Racing

Australian Racing: Unzaga well set for Muswellbrook success

There are just the three meetings set to take place on Tuesday, with good going forecast for Muswellbrook, Stony Creek and Taree.

Race 5 Muswellbrook

Unzaga @ 14/5

Race 4 Taree

Bella Tarouga @ 28/1

Race 6 Stony Creek

Battaglia @ 5/1

Messara's Unzaga to triumph at Muswellbrook

The fifth at Muswellbrook is an interesting 1750m Class 2 handicap where the unexposed Hammoon Thunder is expected to attract support having made just the three previous appearances.

The most recent of those results came in a half-length victory in a 1600m maiden at Tamworth last month. The extra distance appeared to suit that day, having shown ability in two starts in sprint maidens prior.

There's no obvious reason why the extra 150m Rodney Northam's charge encounters here should be an issue. However, the wide barrier may give jockey Clayton Gallagher issues against more experienced rivals.

The Paul Messara team do well at this venue, with a 44% strike-rate (14/32) in the last year. They are represented by Unzaga, who is preferred on this occasion.

The four-year-old delivered a two-and-a-half-length triumph in a 2100m Class 1 contest at Tamworth on his penultimate start and followed that triumph up with a solid fourth in a 2200m Benchmark 58 affair at Scone.

The shorter distance here shouldn't prove too much of an issue having won over 1600m in the past.

Aaron Bullock, on board for the Tamworth and Scone efforts, is a positive jockey booking here and Unzaga also has the forecast good 4 underfoot conditions to suit with a good draw four off the rail.

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Tarouga to spring Taree surprise

Tavi Time is expected to jump as favourite for the fourth at Taree, a 1250m maiden handicap.

Kris Lees' charge showed ability when beaten less than one-a-half-lengths on debut at Kembla Grange, coming home sixth in a maiden contest held on a heavy 8 track on that occasion. 

Quicker going is expected here, with the drop to country level a positive with regard to his chances.

However, a chance is taken on Bella Tarouga, with the 22 race maiden catching the eye here last time out.

She finished strongly to be beaten a head into second in a maiden held over 1300m that day and similar underfoot conditions to those she encountered are forecast for this contest.

Tom Higgins' charge has saved her best efforts for this venue, having been beaten by less than three lengths when fourth over the same course and distance three starts back.

Peter Graham takes the ride for the first time and he is taken to steer Bella Tarouga to a first victory.

Battaglia for Stony Creek success

The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace team have strong claims of taking the sixth at Stony Creek with Kimberley Pearl.

The filly broke her maiden at the second attempt and is drawn in nine for the 1100m Restricted 64 contest.

That maiden triumph came by a narrow margin in an 1170m contest on a good 3 track at Wangaratta last month.

Lachlan King, on board for that first up victory, retains the ride but the pair are expected to find Battaglia too good.

The selection won just once from eight starts last spell but that victory came over 1400m on a soft 5 track at Pakenham in May.

However, the son of So You Think delivered five further top three finishes, including over 1214m at Moe when racing first up.

While kept to wet tracks last spell, Brett Scott's charge handles a sound surface. 

Group 1 winning hoop Craig Newitt takes the ride for the first time, with a draw three off the rail a further positive.  

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