With Whyte suspended, all eyes on Prebble
Brett Prebble rode 15 winners from seven meetings last November as he burst away from his fellow riders to a clear-cut lead in the premiership and the Australian rider will be hoping for another big month this year, starting with a dominant win in today's Jockey Challenge as a $3.30 favourite.
With Douglas Whyte out through suspension, Prebble is clearly the man to beat, and second favourite Darren Beadman ($3.80) looks his main danger, ahead of Zac Purton ($4.80).
Prebble can get off to a flying start with Mustang, who steps up to the 1,400m and has drawn barrier one for trainer David Hall. Spicy Shrimp can keep the ball rolling in the second, and Ponderosa looks a golden opportunity for Prebble to bag maximum points in race three down the straight. Hall has opted for the blinkers with his lightly raced sprinter and, from barrier 11, Prebble will ensure he is well positioned to track the early leaders down the outside rail.
Pretty One makes his debut after a false start last time when scratched at the barriers, and the Ricky Yiu Poo-fai-trained galloper will be in with a show first-up going on the strength of his barrier trials.
Sabina and Prebble are re-united in race five, before the jockey gets a rest in race six, by which time he should be well clear of his rivals.
Prebble may not be on any standouts in the latter races, but don't be surprised if Captain Marvel, Bundle O'Gold, Blue Sky or China Dragon pop up in the winner's stall or at least add to Prebble's tally with minor placings.