Christmas races at Greenwattle this Sunday

David Braithwaite

HORSE racing returns to Sale this Sunday for the annual Christmas raceday.

Storms on Thursday left the track rated “soft five” on Friday, but the condition could improve by Sunday.

Since the Sale Cup at the end of October, the track underwent annual maintenance, meaning there should be little excuse to good performances on Sunday.

The first of eight races, at 1.20pm, will be the 2226 metre maiden plate. Foliah, is coming off a third placing at Sandown earlier this month, while Miletus finished second last start at Kyneton.

In race two, the 1006m maiden plate for three-year-olds, Queen Ryker has been placed in the top three twice in her four starts, while On The Program, who had third and fourth placings in his first two runs, is resuming from a 35-week spell.

Audacious Heart, trained by Anthony and Sam Freedman, is the short-priced favourite for race three, the 1415m maiden plate. In three starts, the filly has two seconds (including one at Sandown last start) and a third.

The challenge appears to come from Insaaf, who was among the placings at Flemington and Sandown in June.

In race four, the fillies and mares maiden plate over 1515m, Miss Gobcain has placed third in both her starts. In two runs, Starlight Scope finished third and a fourth over 1300m and 1200m respectively, and could welcome the step-up in distance on Sunday.

Punters’ money for race five, the benchmark 64 handicap over 1732m, appears to be heading towards Night Passage, from the McEvoy stable, who has placed third in her previous two starts at Moonee Valley since coming across from South Australia. I Am A Hit won over 1590m at Wangaratta last month, while Just As Soon, trained by the Freedmans, won at Geelong before her 27-week spell.

Lion’s Share won at Geelong over 1765m before a three-week break, and will contest race six, the 2226m benchmark 64 handicap. Miss Five Hundred, trained at Moe by Peter Gelagotis, placed third when a chance to win at Sandown earlier this month.

For value, look at Fioritura, who has been in good form, with two seconds, a third and a fourth in his previous four starts around this distance.

Gelagotis has The Great One in race seven, the 1415m benchmark 64 handicap. The five-year-old mare won at Kilmore and placed third at Wodonga over similar distances in the past month.

Over The Sky, trained by Mick Price and Michael Kent, won a Pakenham during his previous preparation, and enters race seven coming off a 22-week spell.

In the final race, the 1106m benchmark 64 handicap at 5.25pm, Manhattan War is coming off a win at Bairnsdale and a third placing at Moonee Valley. Goolagong Rose, trained by Tony and Calvin McEvoy, finished second last start at Moonee Valley, ahead of Manhattan War.