Once again, the country-restricted Highway Handicap is the biggest field on the Sydney metropolitan program.
It’s another exciting affair at Royal Randwick, with the 1200m Class Three catching the eye of Thunderbet’s Johnny ‘Highway’ Patton.
The majority of the field has raced in Highways before, but most of these horses are either starting their preparation or have only had a couple of starts.
Looking at the Thunderbet speed map, the speed only looks fair, and I expect it to be an evenly run race.
With the track set to be a good 4, I believe they’ll find it hard to make ground from the back.
The other factor to consider is the rail position, which is +9m 1000m-W/Post, +6m Remainder. This could also favour on-pace, well-drawn runners.
My on-top selection is Swift Charm ($5.50).
This lightly raced 6YO gelding resumed two weeks ago in an 1100m Class Three Highway Handicap and was beaten by less than two lengths by the impressive Penthouse.
This race isn’t as strong, and the Brett Dodson-trained galloper has Matthew Bennett on board, steps up to 1200m, and has won second-up before.
I think the Coffs Harbour visitor is drawn to get the run of the race from barrier one and will be very hard to beat.
My second pick is Syrian Star ($8.50), trained by Rodney Northam.
She is another galloper who ran behind Penthouse and never had any luck being caught wide all the way, finishing sixth and only getting beaten by 2.96 lengths.
There is significant riding change with Reece Jones going on board, and she is drawn nicely in barrier seven.
The Scone galloper will only carry 54kg for this event, and being second-up also suits. She should be right in this finish.
My third pick is Acapella Sun ($4.20). Her last start was at the end of December, and the Goulburn visitor ran a very credible sixth in a Benchmark 78 behind subsequent Rosehill placegetter Either Oar.
The race time was 1.02.89, which is absolutely flying, and she was only beaten just over three lengths.
Highway Handicap specialist Amy McLucas goes on board and claims two kilograms. She has ridden the 4YO before, and they should get a great run from barrier four.
The only concern is that she does get back, but with any luck, she will storm home over the top of them.
This week, the ‘each way play’ is the Gayna Williams-trained Overlord ($16 & 4.80).
The Bathurst-trained 6YO is the class galloper of the field but was allotted 63.5kg after winning a 1300m Class Three Highway Handicap at Rosehill Gardens in August.
Jake Barrett jumps aboard for the 3kg claim, meaning the Sebring gelding will carry 60.5kg. He is a first-up specialist (6:2-0-2) and is drawn to be prominent, which should suit this race.
It’s also worth noting that Thunderbet will be on course at Wagga today and Tumbarumba tomorrow, supporting the two very popular Southern Districts meetings.
Johnny has asked for anyone who reads his column to come up and introduce themselves.
Each Way Play: Rouge Line ($16 & $4.80 place)