Feature Race Preview December 22

Lough Neagh Stakes (BR7) – Audacious Spirit was pressured for the lead in the George Moore Stakes last time out but is likely to get an easier lead than he did there and should control the pace in this event. Although his ability to see out the 1350m trip is a concern, he will be in the firing line if nothing else wants to pressure him up front. Despite drawing the widest gate, Morning Captain should get a good run and be in the finish. He has finished out of the first two just once in seven runs here, excels over this trip and meets the horses that beat him by just a neck last time out better at the weights. Startsmeup and Phelan Ready were the first two home in the George Moore but may be too far back to win this contest off with the leaders not expected to go as quickly, while Steel Zip was an impressive winner first up and is the interesting runner coming off a four week break.
Selections: Morning Captain, Steel Zip, Phelan Ready, Audacious Spirit 

Villiers Stakes (SR6) ** TattsBet $125,000 First Four Jackpot** – Monton did the Festival/Villiers Stakes double last year and that race could well be the best guide for this year’s renewal, with 13 of those who ran in the 1500m event two weeks ago meeting again here. Although the winner Malavio isn’t in this field, twelve of the next thirteen home are, including Monton who was second. He ran well off a break in that contest and Ron Quinton will have him primed to make it back-to-back wins. Cabernet finished 5th beaten just over a length at Rosehill but would have finished closer after being blocked for a run in the straight, has won at the track and meets several of her rivals better at the weights. Peter Snowden has three runners, with the best of his hopes appearing to be Galah, who never runs a bad race but hasn’t won in his past nine starts. Leading Melbourne trainer Peter Moody saddles up Highly Recommended and Shout Out Loud and both are capable of being in the finish, although stable jockey Luke Nolen has elected to take the mount on the former.
Selections: Cabernet, Monton, Galah, Highly Recommended

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