LANGOUSTINE - James Cummings and Godolphin are another stable at the top of their game sitting fourth on the Australian Trainer’s Premiership with 158 winners behind Darren Weir, Chris Waller and the Hayes and Dabernig team however he has the superior winning strike rate at 21 percent whilst Cummings is also clear leader on the NSW Provincial Trainer’s Premiership with 63 winners striking at 30 percent. The Godolphin blue can start punters off on a winning note at Kembla with Exceed And Excel Filly Langoustine set for her second career win in the HLB Mann Judd 3YO Class One Handicap (1000m). After two placings at Bendigo from three runs in her first preparation, Langoustine returned a winner with a three-length victory over 1100m at the same track before finding the step up to Fillies and Mares benchmark 70 company a touch beyond her at this stage of her career when a beaten $1.50 favourite finishing third at Ballarat last start. Back to a Class One restricted against her own age Langoustine gets her chance to return to the winner’s list.
BRAD THE LAD - If punters are prepared to forgive the last start failure of the Kerry Parker-trained Brad The Lad, the $16 available in early betting markets looks significant overs as the five-year-old attempts to bounce back in the CCI Catholiccare Cup Benchmark 68 Handicap (1200m). After a sluggish getaway and being pushed extremely wide straightening at Canberra last start Brad The Lad was never in the race but if he could recover the form he showed two runs back over the Kembla 1200m when a photo-finish second to Connoisseur he would be right in play on Saturday. Three factors stand out as solid reasons to suggest he can. Jeff Penza is back in the saddle and the last two times the leading provincial jockey has been in the saddle Brad The Lad has gone close to winning. A 2.5kg weight drop on Brad The Lad’s latest outing won’t hurt and with a heavy (8) track posted for Kembla it is worth noting the five-year-old is a winner on soft ground and has been placed on a soft surface.
HAND FROM ABOVE - With an undefeated record at Kembla, it is no surprise to see Kim Waugh head down the M1 to qualify Hand From Above in the Polytrack Provincial Championships Qualifier (1400m). A Noel Callow ride, Hand From Above stands out as the likely winner being two-from-two at Kembla, a last start Canterbury victor on a soft (6) track and he's a winner on heavy ground. Hand From Above hasn’t raced for 31-days but Waugh has kept the five-year-old up to the mark winning a Beaumont Newcastle trial over 1200m in the interim. Although on paper barrier 14 looks an awkward gate, there is likely to plenty of early pressure with the field spreading out and giving Callow the opportunity to cross and settle midfield and Kembla is a track where they tend to get wide whenever there is any rain about. Expecting Hand From Above to be the one charging down the outside and reeling in his rivals over the latter stages giving the Waugh stable their third Provincial Championships Final qualifier.
WINKLER - The John Everson-trained Winkler will be chasing a hat-trick of wins in the Supply And Demand Benchmark 64 Handicap (2360m) and has the statistics in his favour. A four-year-old son of Rip Van Winkle, Winkler has hit his straps since stepping up to a staying journey, winning a Lismore maiden over 2100m two runs back before going back to back in a benchmark 55 handicap at Murwillumbah last time out. As always, a look at the historical statistics gives us a clue to the task Winkler faces and the answer is a positive one. Looking back over the last five years at the performance of horses coming into a race on the back of successive wins over staying journeys at Grafton we find a 35.7 percent winning strike rate and a 20.7 percent profit on turnover at an average win dividend of $3.60.
CAMILLO -A 10-length defeat last start would not normally be a strong form recommendation, however it would be wise for punters to ignore the run when assessing the chances of the David Kelly-trained Camillo who puts an unbeaten Grafton record on the line in the Fight Night At The Track April 14 Class 3 Handicap (1206m). Camillo showed plenty of promise in his last preparation winning successive races at Grafton by over three-lengths on each occasion and high hopes were held for his first-up run at Rosehill in a class two Highway Handicap on February 24. In the market at $6.50, Camillo dropped out of the race quickly after sharing the lead straightening, but Stewards reported the gelding was galloped on his off-hind leg and was slow to recover post-race. A trial at Grafton in the interim suggests Camillo has recovered from the first-up run finishing a close second in what was a fast-run 1000m trial.