Divine Hugh, second to subsequent Gr2 Dingaans winner, Shango, looked to be a fairly solid bet when taking on a modest maiden field over the Hollywoodbets Scottsville 1400m last month but was not able to match strides with Master Tobe inside the final furlong.
This was the geldings second outing after a fairly lengthy break and given that this should be his peak run come Sunday over what looks to be a more suitable trip, Divine Hugh rates the one to beat in the seventh.
Dangers! On The Bayou is starting to show better form as he goes further but Anton Marcus has forgone the ride to partner Divine Hugh which may be an indication of their relative chances.
Shane Humby had a winner with Suzie Woo on New Year’s Day and as a trainer who is not one to rush his charges, the five-year-old Double Gemini has only his eighth start but has been improving all the time and looks to be over his optimum trip so is a must inclusion in all exotics.
Marcus has stuck with Han Solo in the last where Glen Kotzen’s runner is likely to start at cramped odds in the last. Marcus has been aboard at his last three starts and was making late progress when four lengths back to favourite Themba last time out. The step up in trip should suit and Han Solo could prove a little too good for Bayview Express and Declaration Of War who, on recent form, look the obvious dangers.
Duncan Howells has been relatively quiet of late given his high standards and he could open with the first two winners on the card. Brilliant Disguise was probably just have needed his last run when a close-up third from a wide draw and should come on from that. A threat could come from Avro Lancaster who is well regarded but has been costly to follow. However, his new trainer may now be putting him over a more suitable trip.
Trip To Africa was a facile maiden winner on debut but the form behind him has been iffy and he takes on a useful Progress field in the first leg of the PA. However, given his pedigree, extended trip, draw and handy weight he could prove progressive enough to have the measure of the well exposed Exclusive Quantity. Caliente and Sea Dance are others to consider.
The first leg of the Pick 6 is an open affair with most of the runners in with a decent winning chance but Mark Dixon’s mare She’s A Dream has come good in a tongue-tie and was an excellent second last run. She has a big weight but has finally found her feet and could prove too good for the likes of Electric Surge, Winter Retreat and Arianos Spinner.
The fourth is another tricky affair but Connect Me failed narrowly when going 2000m for the first time. She is always game and can go one better. Railtrip has been disappointing but the blinkers are back on and at best she will be worth another chance.
In the fifth, another tricky handicap, Master Of Illusion has his third run after a break and is 1.5kg better off with course specialist Celebration Rock and can turn the tables. Tarsus showed up well first run for his new stable and is sure to come on from that effort and is 1.5kg better off with the unbeaten Pearl Of Asia who has won both starts in yielding going and beat the smart Mr Fitz last time out.
The sixth will be an all-out sprint with whoever last longest the winner. Coldhardcash, Chantyman and Effortless Reward are all quick but all have breathing issues while Cumulus is never-say-die and will test them all to the line.
By Andrew Harrison
Image Caption: Paul Lafferty saddles ON THE BAYOU in the The White Horse Function Room Maiden Plate at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Sunday.