Jumps guru TIM HICKMAN will be covering each day of the Warrnambool Carnival for the Sportsbet Blog. Here are his thoughts on the four jumping races on the first day.

Crowds will be back at Warrnambool on Tuesday for the first time in two years, after last year’s carnival was run behind closed doors due to the pandemic. Last year saw all the jumping take place on one day, this year will see the carnival revert to its traditional format with the Brierly Steeplechase highlighting Day 1, the Galleywood on Day 2, and the big one, the Grand Annual, on Day 3.

The carnival will begin with three maiden hurdles however, and in a highly positive indicator of the health of support, each has attracted a field of ten plus six emergencies, so they had enough numbers to run five maiden hurdles had they chosen. My thoughts on each maiden hurdle, plus a runner by runner preview of the Brierly, are below.

Race 1

The first is a very open race. I couldn’t get Field of Lights anywhere near as short as the $2.40 he is in early betting. He comes from a good local stable and has fair flat form, but his trials were good without being outstanding. Suspect he will SP somewhere closer to $4.00, so I would prefer to play a couple of at bigger prices in the early market.

Dewrinkler has trialled really well around Home By Midnight and Blood And Sand. His flat form is solid enough and I really rate Amy McDonald as a trainer of jumpers. The booking of Steve Pateman is a strong push.

There was a lot to like about Out And Dreaming’s recent debut at Pakenham. He pushed Budd Fox all the way and should only be improved by that outing. The chances don’t end there but those are the two I will be playing.

Race 2

I think Wil John can win the second maiden hurdle on debut. He is an out and out stayer and his trials have been good. A big lump of a horse, he should be well suited by the higher weight scale of jumping and the Maher/Eustace and Pateman combination at this carnival has to be respected.

If Annunciate can bring his trial form to the races he will take some beating, but his wet track record is mixed and whether he can stay is an open question.

Race 3

Not hard to see why Mawaany Machine is the $1.75 favourite for the third race. If I owned him, I would be running him in the Cup after an excellent first up placing at Flemington. He led them up in a small field and looked beaten at the top of the straight, but fought on really well to finish third, ahead of Persan. I loved his hurdle trials too. He jumped like a stag. So much so that I think in time steeplechasing will be his go.

Brierly Steeplechase – Runner by Runner

The Brierly is the feature race of the first day of the carnival. They do one lap of the famous Warrnambool jumping circuit, whereas on Thursday in the Grand Annual they will go around twice. It has been won by some quality chasers in recent years including Al Garhood, Some Are Bent, Cats Fun, Palmero, Thubiaan and Zed Em.

While the Brierly was traditionally a lead up to the Annual, these days most runners bypass the Tuesday feature and go straight in to the Annual on the Thursday.

There haven’t been many rough results in the Brierly of late, with last year’s victor Getting Leggie being the only winner at double figure odds in the last decade.

Lines up here for the first time since winning it in 2019. Last year, he ran in the Annual but he doesn’t quite see out the 5500m. After that though, he came back and won the Australian Steeplechase and the Thackeray, which is run over the same trip here. Has the 70Kg but has earned it. Clear second pick.

Back for for his fourth season of jumping despite being just seven years of age. He has a really good record around this circuit, having won twice and placed once from four attempts, including a win over Bit of a Lad. He seems to need a really bottomless track to win at this level, but he is a place chance, albeit $8.50 to win (at time of writing) is big unders.

The money has come thick and fast for this fellow since the market opened and while he is short enough now, he is entitled to be a clear favourite. To be honest, I find it strange he is not running in the Annual on Thursday because he would be awfully hard to beat there. Slow to mature, he jumps like a stag, swims and is on a real upward spiral. His only run over this course saw him win by 17 lengths. With just 65Kg here he is weighted to win.

Overall he has been a little bit disappointing given he was purchased for $160,000 at a tried horse sale in 2017 and has won only four races over obstacles, none of them features. He is racing consistently (form reads 2-2-3-2) in lower grade and I have been sucked into backing him a few times, but I won’t be against this class.

Has proved to be effective in weaker grade than this but he was beaten out of sight in the Von Doussa at Oakbank against Yensir and Zed Em. A better performance can be expected on his home track but place chance looks best.

Tough horse to get a handle on. Won a BM120 on this day last year by eight lengths and was sent around at 9-4 in the Australian Steeplechase after that, where he was retired from the race. Went around a week later at this track and bolted in again. Hard to ignore that the last time he met Bit of a Lad around this track he was getting six kilos off him but was still beaten by ten lengths.

Looked a really exciting prospect a couple of years ago but unfortunately she missed all of last year due to injury. Her two jumps runs this season have been less than inspiring, but she could be improved over the bigger obstacles. Meets Flying Agent 3.5Kg worse for a six length defeat three weeks ago.

Joined the Patrick Payne stable ahead of his last start and Payne looks to have found the key to him, as he won well at Murray Bridge, albeit beating nothing. Doubt he can figure here.

Trainer Nick Smart won this last year with Getting Leggie. Unfortunately, Mr Coyne was grossly disappointing last start at Murray Bridge and I’m highly sceptical of the strength of the Oakbank form where he looked good prior.

Has some reasonable Kiwi hurdle form…back in 2017.

Gavin Bedggood won this race as a jockey on Vindicating back in 2011. He is doing well as a trainer thus far but while Jamieson probably has a race in him somewhere, this isn’t it.

A true warrior of jumps racing, he lines up for his 53rd start over obstacles here. Unfortunately, they have only yielded two wins and I can’t see it becoming three.

Brierly Tips

The market here looks fairly accurate for the 2021 Brierly. Flying Agent deserves to be favourite, $2.00 is no spoil now but he will take a power of beating. Bit of a Lad is the clear danger and a good Top 2 play for your same race multi. Georgethefifth and Elvison, the Symon Wilde trained pair, look the best of the rest.

  1. Flying Agent
  2. Bit of a Lad
  3. Georgethefifth
  4. Elvison