The Sportsman Weekend

Scone tops the list of favourite tracks

- @NeilEvansm­ail NEIL EVANS

TWO more Saturdays before Santa weighs in and let’s reflect on the tracks that can make you most money.

Of course punters, big and small, all have their favourites and the wonderful game can never be an exact science but having scrutinise­d and absorbed every track in NSW, here is where I love to go.

Weighing up the primary factors – patterns, reliabilit­y, durability, recovery and most importantl­y fewer across-theboard hard luck stories – here are my top five punting tracks in NSW:

1. Scone, 2. Wagga, 3. Dubbo, 4. Canterbury, 5. Rosehill. As you can see, the most common denominato­r is the long straight with Canterbury the only course with a shorter run home making the list, primarily because of its outstandin­g ability to play reasonably fair from good to heavy.

Scone’s biggest advantage is that lovely gradual sweeping turn from the 700m which means riders can exercise all important ‘cover’ for longer and horses remain more composed and tractable because the turn is far less abrupt.

The course, in my opinion, brings runners to their peak more often and it’s no surprise today’s special Christmas meeting drew a staggering 122 acceptors for the eight races.

Both Wagga and Dubbo have terrific long runs in but the turn is a little sharper and horses are more likely to lug off track. That said, particular­ly in Dubbo’s case, it does open up more accessible gaps for those buried away back on the inside.

Pattern reliabilit­y is the overwhelmi­ng factor. You could argue there are other metro, provincial and country layouts not too dissimilar but on many of those, the pattern can often be different from one meeting to next, even sometimes on the same rating.

Scone seemingly rewards superior horses and riders more often. This year’s outstandin­g Cup Dark Jewel Classic Carnival was testament to that.

On pure form depth and quality, with so many immediatel­y going on to win blacktype races in Sydney and Brisbane, I still rate those two days in early May as the highest quality country-based racing at any time in Australia’s history.

As for the Big Smoke, yes Canterbury’s size means there are hard luck stories but the surface across the board is almost without peer.

Rosehill to me is superior to Randwick because of all round reliabilit­y – it can boast more days when the winners have come from front, middle and back.

Back at Randwick tomorrow for a strong Group 2 Villers day, with three Listed support races, the luck can finally turn for big striding Scone-based finisher Bobbing.

I doubt there’s been a more luckless runner over the last couple of months, not least in the Group 3 Festival Stakes a fortnight back, although it comes with the territory when you launch from so far back.

With plenty of pressure on upfront over the Villiers mile, and down on 53kg from a low draw with top hoop Robbie Dolan aboard, Bobbing presents seriously over the odds.

Here are my best rated value selections for Randwick:

Race 3 3. HIGH BRIDGE Expect: $4.50 My Rating: $3.05

7 14. BOBBING $9.50 Rating: $4.85

Race 3. EL DORADO DREAMING Expect: $8.50 My Rating: $5.00

Race 8 13. OUR WINNIE Expect: $21.00 My Rating: $8.50

Good Luck

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