BALLET ROSE - The Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes-trained Ballet Rose appeals as the day’s best bet in the Sea FM Class 1 Handicap (1100m) after an impressive maiden win on debut at Hawkesbury. Regular readers of this column know I have no concerns backing horses graduating into class one company after winning their maiden – it is one of the biggest myths in racing from a form perspective. Commentators regularly tell us maiden winners going to class ones have a poor winning strike rate but there is one simple reason for the low percentage – there is invariably more than one last start maiden winner in the race and that’s the case on Saturday with three last start winners engaged. Sure, there are plenty of maiden winners who struggle with the step up in grade but if the maiden win was good enough punters should have no concerns with the class rise. Ballet Rose ran the 1100m at Hawkesbury on debut in 63.22 seconds, the same time as the class two winner on the day Sasso Corbaro who went to Randwick to win his next start by 3-1/2 lengths. So Magic who was just under three-lengths from Ballet Rose when the judge called a halt at Hawkesbury added further merit to the race figures going on to win a Gosford maiden at her next start. The key to identifying horses that can go on immediately following their maiden win is to look for those who returned figures that show they are capable of working through the grades and that is the case with Ballet Rose.
CASINO STAR - The Kevin Hanley-trained Casino Star gets her chance to win a race when she lines up in the Southern Asset Services Maiden Handicap (1175m). A daughter of Casino Prince as the name implies, Casino Star didn’t do a lot in three runs in her first preparation when trained by Luke Pepper however the mare put the writing on the wall at her first run for the new stable when third at Seymour finishing less than a length from the winner in a fillies and mares maiden. Back to her home track with the first-up run under her belt Casino Star looks set to record a maiden win.
LAWTON JOSEPH - Horses trained on the track have an advantage at Albury with the locals producing an 11 percent profit on turnover for the last five years which suggests the Andrew Dale-trained Lawton Joseph can record back to back wins in the Gazebo & Shade Centre Class 3 Handicap (1400m). Lawton Joseph is putting together a solid record with three wins and five placings from his 11 starts to date including a strong win over the Albury 1400m last start carrying 58.5kg to win a benchmark 55 handicap. Lawton Joseph doesn’t look badly treated with the same weight on Thursday and there is nothing to suggest the five-year-old won’t be winning again.
NOT TOO SURE - The Davidson White Accountants Benchmark 75 Handicap (1400m) looks set to be run at a genuine tempo which will give the backmarkers their chance late. The $2.70 favourite Cha Cha King likes to race on the speed but is likely to have a couple of friends challenging for early supremacy setting the race up for something coming off the speed. The Chris Heywood-trained Not Too Sure with Richard Bensley in the saddle fits the bill. After successive runner-up finishes including the Stan Sadlier Stakes at Wagga on November 3, Not Too Sure had no luck at Canberra last start when he was never clear at any stage of the straight. Not Too Sure is drawn to settle midfield behind the genuine tempo and will be the one the leader’s have to hold out.
PIERINO - It’s easy to see why Corporate Bookmakers have installed the John O’Shea-trained Peribsen a $2.20 chance in the Mick Lavalle Memorial Class 1 and Maiden Plate (2000m) but whether he is value at that price is open to discussion. A third in a listed race in France finishing marginally behind this year’s beaten Melbourne Cup favourite Marmelo stands out like the proverbial on Peribsen’s resume but it is worth noting the five-year-old son of Lonhro needed 2800m to fire overseas and his first Australian run when close to eight-lengths from Sedanzer in a benchmark 84 at Randwick over a mile did nothing to change that thought. Peribsen’s class may well prevail and he comes out and wins this by five-lengths with the $2.20 looking a gift but the way the race shapes up does gives the improving Pierino from the Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes stable some chance of upsetting the favourite. Pierino is likely to have control of the race on speed and may well be off and gone straightening with the import charging home late but giving away too much start. That’s the way I see it, but I will be influenced by betting movements as the day progresses.