Race 1 - 11:30am
Lanigera will carry winning form into the first on Winter Stakes Day and can continue his rise through the grades. The Godolphin-trained gelding had clearly taken plenty of benefit from a fair first-up effort when he powered home to score an impressive maiden win at Newcastle last time out, and there is no doubt that he harbours further upside. I’m happy to take on the debuting favourite and Lanigera looks the one to do it.
2 Units Lanigera
Race 2 - 12:05pm
Phaistos has returned to racing in excellent condition this time and strikes another winnable one at Rosehill on Saturday. The Helmet gelding charged home to score an impressive win at Kembla Grange two back, before mustering an eye-catching turn of foot to run on for a close-up second behand Call Me Royal at Rosehill last time out, having recorded the fastest closing 400m on the race. He gets a good pull in the weights from that horse this time and will take beating with Hugh Bowman in the saddle.
2 Units Phaistos
Race 3 - 12:40pm
Galapagos has been freshened for his run in this week’s Highway race and looks a winning chance after drawing inside. The Teofilo gelding finished on the winner’s heels in a race at Tamworth and a Highway race at Randwick in succession, before running on well to finish just off the pace at Rosehill last time out. He’s won a trial in the lead-up to this and will take beating
1 Unit Galapagos
Race 4 - 1:15pm
Primitivo faces a rise in the weights on Saturday but was an impressive winner at Randwick last time out and can make it two in a row here. The four-year-old gelding ran third behind the talented Quackerjack two back, but his last start performance suggested that he’s found peak condition and he’s clearly the one to beat again. He’s quite short but should be winning relatively easily.
3 Units Primitivo
Race 5 - 1:50pm
Spiritual Pursuit will carry winning form into the fifth and will take a power of beating again. The Snitzel filly ran on to finish second behind Wagner in a BM78 race here first-up, before recording an easy win over 1000m at Randwick last time out. She’s harbours further improvement and is drawn beautifully in barrier 5.
Sebring Express faces a rise in class, but there is no doubt that she is over the odds at $51 and I’m eager to have a small each-way play at that price. The Gary Portelli-trained mare ran on well to finish fourth at Kembla Grange and typically enjoys sharp second-up improvement, which she’ll need, but she also appears to have ideal conditions.
3 Units Spiritual Pursuit
0.5 Units E/W Sebring Express
Race 6 - 2:30pm
Curragh has been a model of consistency this time and looms as an each-way chance in the sixth on Winter Stakes Day. The Tavistock gelding has been a quality performer for the Busuttin and Young yard throughout his career and recorded a smart first-up win at Warrnambool and has finished on the winner’s heels at three subsequent starts. He looks a live chance in what is one of the more open races at Rosehill on Saturday.
1 Unit E/W Curragh
Race 7 - 3:10pm
This is an excellent edition of the Winter Stakes and there is a case to be made for more than half of the sixteen confirmed starters.
The Joe Pride-trained New Tipperary will take wholesale improvement into his second campaign target and looks a live each-way chance at double-figures ($14 at publish). There was a lot to like about the way that New Tipperary worked home to finish third in the Listed Civic Stakes first-up and he is a horse that typically improves sharply with a run under his belt. He’s drawn well with in-form hoop Tim Clark booked to ride.
1.5 Units E/W New Tipperary
Race 8 - 3:50pm
Southern Lad recorded a well-deserved and impressive win last time out and looks capable of making it two in a row on Winter Stakes Day. The John O’Shea-trained sprinter hasn’t finished outside of the places through four starts this time in, but his last-start triumph suggested that he has found peak condition and this race looks the next obvious step.
2 Units Southern Lad
Race 9 - 4:30pm
Brilliant Choice rarely runs a bad race and he can make a winning return in the last at Rosehill on Saturday. The Team Hawkes-trained gelding has recorded two wins and three placings from his five career starts so far and was last seen finishing third behind subsequent Group 1 winner Mr Quickie over 1400m. His fresh form is clearly excellent and the $4.50 on offer at publish does look a touch of overs.
2 Units Brilliant Choice