Tonight looks as good as Satur­day

The Sportsman Weekend - - News - Good Luck @NeilE­vans­mail NEIL EVANS

MY how the wheel can turn and the view can change.

Re­mem­ber when Syd­ney was only a city for day time rac­ing.

Un­der lights? No way. Maybe a fleet­ing peak of black-type races at night nearly two decades ago, but the com­mon view since then was the Har­bour City never had

“event” tag to change tra­di­tion and old-time think­ing. Think again. Tonight’s Can­ter­bury card is as good as you will ever see still only a hand­ful of hours into a new year.

In fact, you could ar­gue that apart from the ob­vi­ous big­ger prize­money, it’s ev­ery bit as com­pet­i­tive as to­mor­row’s fea­ture metro meet­ing on Rand­wick’s Kens­ing­ton course.

Mind you, that’s a mi­nor mir­a­cle in it­self.

It was only a cou­ple of years back, the “Kenso” was a mine­field of kick­back and crit­i­cism, and al­most on its last fi­nan­cial legs.

But dogged per­sis­tence, turf science, and oo­dles of pa­tience all rolled into one paid enor­mous div­i­dends, and Kens­ing­ton is fi­nally hold­ing up as a solid al­ter­na­tive to Rand­wick’s course proper.

Yet, for the first time in a long time, I’m just as ex­cited about tonight as to­mor­row.

Let’s face it, I’ve al­ways con­sid­ered Can­ter­bury the su­pe­rior all-round bet­ting track in Syd­ney, and sup­port­ive pro­mo­tions to help drag peo­ple through the gates are now prov­ing a sum­mer siz­zler.

But for purist, con­sider this:

Tonight, 84 run­ners (mi­nus emer­gen­cies and be­fore scratch­ings) ac­cepted to start, in­clud­ing a two-year-old fil­lies race with nine debu­tants on show; a BM 74, two BM 72s and two 70s.

Race 7 – 74 Hand­i­cap over 1250m for the older horses – boasts nearly $2 mil­lion in col­lec­tive prize­money across 11 run­ners.

Race 6 for the stay­ers over 1900m has earnt the field nearly $1.6 mil­lion for con­nec­tions.

The last race the fil­lies and mares over 1100m to­tals near $600K in earn­ings across just eight run­ners.

To­mor­row, rac­ing for the stan­dard $125,000 in prize­money, only 95 run­ners are likely to line up across nine races – one BM 88 for the sprint­ers; four 78s; a good Open Hand­i­cap and mod­er­ate BM 72 punc­tu­ate card that also kicks off with a twoyear-old dash.

Race 7 com­mands more than $3.2 mil­lion in prize­money earnt by 10 run­ners; $1.7 mil­lion is the col­lec­tive

of 11 run­ners in the fea­ture Sum­mer Sprint; $1.4 mil­lion earnt across the Royal Rand­wick Hand­i­cap (1300m) Race 6.

You get the pic­ture? There’s not a big dif­fer­ence, again prov­ing just how far night rac­ing at Can­ter­bury has come in 2018.

Tonight, on what should be a Good 4/Soft 5 rat­ing, I’m keen Godol­phin-trained Pin­dus ($4.80) sec­ond-up in Race 2, the Sum­mer Night Rac­ing Plate (1100m).

He was a lit­tle flat-footed when heav­ily backed re­sum­ing be­hind the smart Sher­iff at Goul­burn, but fit­ter now and back in town, Pin­dus can shake off the “grooms­man” tag – four sec­onds from five starts and be­come the groom.

And now that’s he’s got a taste for the Syd­ney way with two close sec­onds at Kens­ing­ton in slightly stronger grade, Vic­to­rian four-year-old raider All Too Royal ($3.50) can add to an al­ready im­pres­sive CV with his fourth ca­reer win in nine starts in Heat 1 of the Can­ter­bury Night Sprint Se­ries (1100m) Race 4.

To­mor­row, tal­ented Godol­phin four-year-old Re­gent ($4.80) can make it two wins in three starts in race 6, the BM 78 Hand­i­cap (1300m).

Af­ter sail­ing down mid­dle to win in heavy ground un­der a big weight at War­wick Farm two runs back, Re­gent was again good from well back in what will prove to be a strong BM 78 form-line three weeks ago at Rand­wick. Sta­ble­mate As­to­ria ($5.50) who has also at­tacked the line in his last cou­ple against stronger op­po­si­tion is a huge dan­ger, so cover the quinella.

And save some value for War­wick Farm mare Nicci’s Gold ($6.00) who looks very well placed to win the lucky last, Race 9, the BM 78 ATC Hand­i­cap (1550m).

Com­pet­i­tive in good com­pany up to 2000m late win­ter, she pow­ered home third-up to beat high-fly­ing The Art Of The Bar last start, and while ad­mit­ting she has a big­ger ad­van­tage in wet ground, this looms as the ideal trip fourthup.

Neil Evans thinks Re­gent is one of the best bets at Rand­wick to­mor­row.

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