AURORA ROSE - The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Aurora Rose found the Jason Deamer mare Lady Montoya too strong when they clashed at Newcastle on December 3, but an analysis of the speed map suggests Aurora Rose can turn the tables in the DJ Brook Evers @ Boxing Day Races Benchmark 65 Handicap (2360m). Aurora Rose led at Newcastle but was kept working by the outsider of the field Sworn In who ultimately knocked up finishing over 12-lengths from the winner. Lady Montoya was able to settle two wide and two back getting the perfect run in transit and was too good at the finish. It is hard to see anything taking on Aurora Rose for the lead on Saturday and if that’s the scenario I doubt Lady Montoya will be able to run her down this time.
PUPPET MASTER - After placings at three of his first four career starts including a Canterbury third resuming on December 1, trainer Gary Portelli took Puppet Master to Newcastle on December 9 in search of a confidence boosting win and that’s the way it turned out with the three-year-old son of Foxwedge leading all the way for a comfortable win in a 900m scamper. Puppet Master steps up to class two company as he strives for back to back wins in the Coca-Cola Class 2 Handicap (900m). We have a direct comparison to assess Puppet Master’s chances on Saturday – there was a class two run over 900m on the same day at Newcastle and Puppet Master’s effort in the maiden was approximately 2-1/2 lengths superior to Barr Hill who was the victor in the class two. The third horse has since won to add further merit to the win of Puppet Master and reckon he will be too quick again on Saturday.
BRIGHT LIGHTS BABY - The benchmark handicap ratings should be the first point of call when assessing form for a set-weight race. Set-weight races by definition, give punters a head start with the handicapper unable to balance the field by weight and there is a good example in the Lismore Paint Centre Class 2 Plate (1516m) on Friday. Bright Lights Baby is the top-rated horse with a rating of 63, six points clear of her nearest rival in terms of ratings, Arlington Heights who is currently rated 57. With 2 ratings points equalling 1 kg the figures tell us Bright Lights Baby would be giving Arlington Heights 3kg under handicap conditions (1kg when mares allowances are considered) but will be in receipt of 2kg on Friday under the race conditions which is enhanced a further 2kg with connections taking advantage of the clam for Miki Nakao. Bright Lights Baby was formerly trained by Chris Waller and was a Hawkesbury maiden winner with multiple metropolitan placings in 13-starts for the leading trainer. Bright Lights Baby has performed well in four runs for Coffs Harbour trainer Joanne Hardy including a Grafton win on November 8. The heavy track won’t be an issue for Bright Lights Baby with the mare finishing runner-up at Warwick Farm in similar ground earlier in her career and she is the day’s best bet with the weights in her favour on Friday.
ANNE BONNY - The Owen Glue-trained Anne Bonny is another mare who loses nothing on the heavy track. Anne Bonny returns to race after a 92-day break in the Scott Jones Christmas Cup (1400m) on the back of an impressive trial win at Grafton on December 3. Anne Bonny has won two races first-up in previous preparations and is the winner of her only run on heavy ground. Drawn to get the gun run in transit settling third or fourth behind the leaders, Anne Bonny looks set to send punters home on a winning note at her home track.
I’m On The Prowl - Barriers one to six are a huge advantage over the 1100m at Armidale winning 76 percent of all races over the journey and our first special of the day has the advantage of a good gate in the McDonalds Armidale 3YO Maiden Plate (1100m). The Paddy Cunningham-trained I’m On The Prowl is ready to win at his fourth career start and third run this time in. I’m On The Prowl finished fourth at Armidale resuming on November 12 beaten just over a length and it is worth noting the third horse from the race Oocumba came out and won easily at Narromine yesterday. I’m On The Prowl was nailed on the line when runner-up at Grafton last start after racing wide in the run without cover and hitting the front at the top of the straight. Connections have found the right race for I’m On The Prowl to break her maiden status.