The most intriguing race tomorrow is the provincial championship final worth $500,000.

In a deep race with lots of chances the bookmakers seemed to think it was a 2 horse race between the Kim Waugh trained Great News and the Paul Perry trained Pandano. With the scratching of Great News the bookies suggest Pandano is over the line but I feel differently.

With 15 starters the first thing that jumps out is the potential for a Kamikaze like speed, so in this set up the most advantaged horses are those midfield drawn low to cover the least amount of ground. Those travelling wide are most disadvantaged due to covering more ground at a fast tempo.

I’m predicting the official rating to be wrong tomorrow (shock horror what a surprise) and I feel the track plays to a good 3 to 4. The track last week was sticky and with no rain all week and nice weather it should have firmed up. All recent 3m rails on a good track have been hugely advantaged to runners drawn inside and coming between lanes 1 to 4. Outside lane 5-6 has been very hard to cover ground.

See my runner by runner thoughts below + speedmap.


Darleb (1) $26/$6 There is no doubt this horse on his day has talent but he’s a real Jekyll and Hyde sort. From B1 and Mr Cool Collett gee he ticks some boxes. He’s run well on a fast 2 at Kembla and won on heavy so no issues ground wise. Distance wise his 2 wins and 3 2nds at 1300 to 1400m. He’s not as classy as some of them but that map brings him right into contention- ive had a decent place bet at the $16 (pre scratching) which seems completely wrong if he gets some luck.
Loch Lomond (2) $15/$4.2 Winkers first time and he’s had just 3 career runs so it’s an amazing effort by Kris Lees to get him here. He’s poorly in at the conditions of the race and whilst he has some good upside it all looks too much too early for him. He will appreciate the head gear and the bigger track and Aussie Tom. Again being in Barrier 2 from midfield he does no work but at the current 20/1 I think you will get much better on betfair on the day.
Zeftabrook (3) $34/$8 3yr old filly and we know unless they are Group class 3yr olds have a horrible record in the race. Her 3 runs this time in have been enormous and she is certainly flying under the radar after not coming up last preparation having won the $200k Wellington Boot. Soft draw midfield and Tim Clark are all big ticks. Her pedigree says 1400m will be no problem but she has never seen that so it’s an unknown. For mine she is outclassed at this stage.
Gemmahra (4) $10/$3.10 One of the leaders here and 4 of the 5 wins have been at 1400m. However for mine the biggest issue is 2nd up and with only 2 runs in 12 months she has a smell of being set for the race, but gee it would be a huge training effort to win your Grand final 2nd up in a high pressure race like this. She has absorbed some pressure in the past and is one tough horse. My main issue is Gwenda in the past 2 years is just 2 from 29 with horses 28 days to 42 days which is 6% down from her normal 9% strike rate. Glen Boss is 8% in the same period and when riding horses $10 plus is just 4.5%. That makes the current price of $14 the unders but I love this horse and have to respect it. At the same time those stats have to be respected also.
Electric Girl (5) $11/$3.3 Ex Gwenda horse who is now with the best young provincial trainer in the country in Nathan Doyle. She has a huge ability to absorb pressure and will be on speed, however she looks a bit down on her best form and I’m happy to be around it. If the track is playing fast though I think this horse is a genuine firm tracker with 3 of the 4 wins being at 1400m and on genuine firm it’s 7 goes for 4 wins, 3 placings and 1 5th beaten 1.8 length.
Pandano (6) $2.70/$1.45 7 goes in a metro race for 1 win at 1600m which saw only 3 winners come from the race in 15 runs. 1 win from 7 on a good track being a 2yr old mdn at home, with only 3 provincial winners from that race since and 9 country winners from almost 130 plus starts. All 4 of his wins have been with 14 days between. He won his qualifier very impressively though when arguably the main opposition were not right. Gets a great run here and jock change. Perry is running at 9% but amazingly off a break like this is better at almost 13%, however at $2.80 it looks gross unders and it could easily miss a place. Now has to win its Grand final being fresh with a brutal speed. Trainer and Jockey say it can be done but its form is suspect especially if we get the firmer ground.
Animate (7) $9/$2.90 Amazing horse and possibly the best placed horse in Australia throughout his career. He’s won, with bonus, over $500,000 and has never won an open class city class race, a real credit to Kris Lees and his placement. The map here is excellent for him as he will settle off the speed and gets a world class rider. 3 of his 5 wins have been 1300-1400m, firm or dead is fine and he is a winning chance from the draw.
La Jolie Fille (8) $26/$6 She was amazing to qualify and win her heat however she hadn’t shown anything like that before and that’s the worry. She is capable of leading and will have plenty of friends up front but the speed she showed the other day they will be scorching the turf to lead her. 2 of 3 wins at 1400m range and a fast track will be no problem. For mine she can’t win as she is another 3yr old and they are also not suited, but she is a brave horse.
Prince Aurelius (9) $13/$3.7 Exceptional training effort from a guy with 1 horse in work to qualify this bloke. He led all the way in fast time at 1200m to qualify but that heat looks the weakest of the heats. 5 from 10 is an outstanding record but his only led in his life bar one run where he was unplaced so he has to lead and for that reason I don’t give him a chance with so much pressure and for mine he has to improve 4 lens to win.
Grace Bay (10) $26/$6 Claire Lever did a freakish thing not mentioned and got 2 horses into the final which is a huge effort, and whilst both look not much hope it was a very good training effort as they look in a different postcode form wise to some of these, so full credit to her and the connections. For mine the horse doesn’t run 1400 or have the class so passing.
Liveinthefastlane (11) $23/$6 Bad map for the good guys in Robert and Luke Price from down south. The horse is a 1600-1800m horse and from a wide map it has very little in its favour. A maiden win at 1400m and they have overachieved with this horse to qualify it, but it looks too hard.
Game of thorns (12) $19/$5 Quirky horse who has only won 2 races but has shown Group class on occasions. She won at 1400m at home and whilst she runs well at 1400m it’s when she is fresh and for that reason I feel others are better suited. The firm won’t be an issue but she gets right back and now 2nd up staying at 1400m I prefer others.
Cristal Breeze (13) $7/$2.4 If he had drawn a gate he would have been my clear favourite- as he’s remarkably tough and will keep coming, but that barrier is a real dampener. The firm track is what he needs but he somehow has to travel wide and still finish off. He’s classy enough to do this and still win as I feel his the best horse in the race but wide runs on a firm track at suicide speed are all big negatives. The run 17 days ago was excellent when no luck working on a fast tempo and Bowman is normally the go to rider for the trainer. Despite all this I think he’s very classy and he can still win but id want $9 to find out.
Great News (SCR) SCRATCHED. Terrible news for the trainer who continues to have no luck in this series year in year out. The gate meant it was a huge risk anyway but terrible luck for all connections.
Diva Bella (14) $41/$10 The 2nd of the Claire Lever runners but looks outclassed.
High Court (15) $81/$18 The emergency now gets a run from the widest gate. If it had drawn inside i’d give it a 100/1 chance but outside gate buggers it now.


2021 Provincial Championships Final
16/04/21 – Randwick – Race 3

In Summary I think the only horses capable on class of winning are Darleb, Gemmhara, Electric Girl, Animate, Cristal Breeze and maybe Game of Thorns if they went a suicide speed and all collapsed.

However from a price and map point of view I’ve backed Darleb the place, Animate to win and will save on Cristal Breeze race day. Electric Girl and Gemmhara can be backed as savers to chop out but really anything else would surprise me, and that includes the favourite who I think has to be suspect.

Happy Punting
Luke Murrell

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