Keith Dryden hits the Highway with speedy Vinolass

Vinolass, pictured here winning at the Sapphire Coast last year, will start at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Image: Bradley Photos.

It’s another great field of runners for this week’s Highway, and Thunderbet‘s Johnny ‘Highway’ Patton has cast his eye over the 1400m Class Three Handicap at Rosehill Gardens. 

With rain late Friday afternoon and clearing conditions on Saturday, we’ll be racing on a soft track, and the rail is in a true position. 

The majority of the field this week is made up of horses with Highway experience, and the remaining are horses who are lightly raced and having a crack at the Highway for the first time. 

In some cases, trainers are trying to raise their horses’ benchmarks in a bid to get a start in upcoming Country Championship qualifiers.  

Looking at the Thunderbet speed map, there is not a lot of pace in the race, and I think my first selection might get an easy lead.  

Also, if you’re having a bet on Sunday, my tip for my late father’s race, the Tom Patton Cup at Wagga, is Persian Dancer trained by Garry Colvin, and Danny Beasley stays on board. 

It won very well over this distance in good time in early February. It drops in weight and will be very hard to beat again.

In Saturday’s Highway, my on-top pick is Vinolass ($6.50), trained by Keith Dryden.  

The lightly raced 4YO mare comes into this race second-up, and last time out, was second in a mare’s Benchmark 72 at Warwick Farm over 1100m. 

Her record is three wins from four starts, all on soft tracks. Tyler Schiller goes on board for the first time, which is a significant riding change. 

Being from Young, Tyler might have a connection with some of the owners who are lady’s syndicate from the Harden and the Jugiong districts. 

The only negative I see is her getting the 1400m, but Keith wouldn’t be stepping her up to this distance if he didn’t think she was ready. I think she’ll be hard to beat.

The Thunderbet speed map.

My second pick is Belvedere Boys ($3.80) from the in-form Matthew Dunn yard. Another lightly raced 4YO gelding finished a powerful fourth after coming from last in a 1200m Class Three Highway Handicap at Randwick two weeks ago. 

Nash goes on board for the first time, and when he and the trainer combine, they are generally in the finish. 

It will be his first start on this trip, but I think the Murwillumbah gelding is crying out for it, and he has won on a soft track. Watch him to be slashing late.

My third pick is Sharp Rock ($13). I can’t understand why the Rodney Northam-trained 4YO is that big of a price. 

Last start, he came from last to flash home behind Atmospheric Rock, only beaten by two and a half lengths, and he had barrier 11 that day.

The Scone galloper has drawn barrier four and drops two and a half kilograms with apprentice Jett Stanley going on board. 

In December, he ran second at Randwick over this distance behind Mosgold in a very good time for a Class Three Handicap. 

The soft track might be a slight query, but it’s worth having something on it at these odds.

This week’s each-way play is Ollie’s Secret ($21 & $6.50). 

Trained by Jan Bowen at Muswellbrook, at his last start at Newcastle, he was held up down the straight in a Benchmark 66. 

The start before that was in a Highway at Randwick, and he was caught four-wide the entire trip.

During the 4YO’s last preparation, he ran a credible fourth in a Benchmark 72 at Canterbury. The only downfall is that he likes it better on a good track, but he goes into this fitter third-up and drops four kilograms in weight. I think he’s way over the odds.

Thunderbet’s Selections

  1. Vinolass ($6.50
  2. Belvedere Boys ($3.80)
  3. Sharp Rock ($13)

Each Way Play: Ollie’s Secret ($21 & $4.80)