The Sportsman Weekend

Time for the public to be back on track

- NEIL EVANS @NeilEvansm­ail

IT’S time. In my opinion, time for the public to be allowed back to track.

Country venues now, then provincial and finally metropolit­an – by Saturday October 2 for Group 1 Epsom Day; but I’ll settle for the Everest showpiece on October 16.

Of course, numbers capped and some restrictio­ns in play – along with the mandatory double vaccinatio­n tick – so life can go on and on, and on.

I doubt anyone needs any more incentive or encouragem­ent to support the gates being opened but if you’re still thin in intestinal fibre, a quick look at tomorrow’s The Shorts (1100m) will surely bring you on board.

It may be a small field, but I doubt there’s ever been so much sprint quality at the pointy end.

And don’t think this is all about speed; yes, there’s a couple who can rocket out; but from the 600m it’s a tactical battle of chess on four legs.

Take a few seconds to salivate what is potentiall­y the highest rating Group 2 sprint in history – before working out who wins:

Nature Strip v Eduardo v Masked Crusader Rothfire – and that doesn’t even include Group 1 winner Gytrash and Lost And Running both at early double figure odds.

Some $18.5 million in combined prizemoney across only eight runners; 71 (47 per cent)

wins from 152 starts – and many of those, of course, at Group 1 level.

And that’s tempered by the inclusion of Canberra’s Handle The Truth (9 wins from 30) and provincial mare Adelong (8 wins from 18), both 200/1 shots who somehow snuck in the side door when the bouncer wasn’t looking.

No question the value is super talented five-year-old Lost And Running ($10.00) who resumes off two smart trials. Never beaten fresh or secondup in four runs, and relishes soft ground.

Mind you he’s never bumped into something like this before.

Given seven-year-old powerhouse Nature Strip ($2.40) relaxes even better now and doesn’t need to be bustled through early, he must still be the great measuremen­t.

In fact, this should stack up beautifull­y sitting behind resuming speedster Eduardo ($8.00) who will surely zip over from a wide gate and take control.

An arrogant first-up win in the Group 3 Concorde (1000m), Nature Strip drops 2.5kg for this and I see him landing the one out, one back spot outside of Rothfire ($5.00), and behind leading pair Eduardo Lost And Running.

The giant ‘X’ factor late of course is whether Masked Crusader ($4.80) can get off their backs in the straight and run over lot. I doubt it.

□ MY THE SHORTS TIPS: 1. NATURE STRIP; 2. Rothfire; 3. Masked Crusader; 4. Eduardo

It’s easy to forget the Group 1 George Main Stakes over the famous mile is actual headline race with a headline making six-year-old mare who can put them to the sword.

Verry Elleegant’s return in the Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m) behind Mo’unga was terrific and of course the winner then ran a bottler in Group 1 Makybe Diva at Flemington last Saturday.

Second-up from a low draw in ideal Soft 6/7 ground spells danger for the rest and the rail being out a very tricky 7m for this entire distance only adds to Verry Elleegant ($2.20) making a slashing statement.

If there’s value danger, it’s seven-year-old Cascadian ($10.00) who will again settle back and finish like a train on his preferred soft surface.

□ MY GEORGE MAIN TIPS:

1. VERRY ELLEEGANT; 2. Cascadian; 3. Think It Over; 4. Hungry Heart

In the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on what will likely be a Soft 5 or 6, you wonder how some of these even got a start.

Put that aside and star Kiwi mare Probabeel ($5.50) can make it two straight this preparatio­n despite a tricky inside draw for reasons.

Firstly, there’s enough early inside speed to pull her into a forward position, eliminatin­g the danger of being shuffled too far back by those coming across.

Secondly, she drops 3kg from the first-up win in the Group 3 Cockram for what is a weak edition and her secondup form is unrivalled.

□ MY SIR RUPERT CLARKE TIPS:

1. PROBABEEL; 2. Behemoth; 3. Sierra Sue

GOOD LUCK

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 ??  ?? Nature Strip is Neil’s top pick in The Shorts at Royal Randwick tomorrow.
Nature Strip is Neil’s top pick in The Shorts at Royal Randwick tomorrow.

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