Selections: Race 5: Rakovsky 3/1 PPRace 6: The General 5/4 PP

Racing fans have been starved of local activity recently. We should be salivating over the thoughts of the Punchestown festival, Sandown’s end of season climax and the emergence of the European flat season.

Instead it is the unfamiliar surroundings of Gulfstream park in the States and Sha Tin and Happy Valley in Hong Kong that are making the headlines.This is a great time for the horse racing public to spread their wings and follow some of this action from around the world.

It's business as usual in Australia behind closed doors and there is some great racing to look forward to in the next few weeks. Don’t be perturbed by the time difference as Friday sees evening racing take centre stage at Cranbourne. This allows us full access from 8.30am on Friday morning with Bet365, PaddyPower and Betfair providing a live stream of all races.

No need to get out of bed too early as the first 4 races contain odds on favourites and I am going to follow the Barry Hills mantra in never betting odds on. Race 5 at 10.30am is the first race to focus on. It is relatively open but I am going to go for the locally trained Rakovsky for the Cindy Alderson stable. This gelding was very strong at the finish when winning over 2200 metres at Geelong most recently and that was only his 3rd start for this stable. He is coming to the boil nicely and will be primed for this race coming from these quarters.

Daniel Stackhouse was in the saddle for that win when deploying positive tactics and it is a huge plus to see him retain the ride. The Matt Cumani trained Converging is a big threat and has shown a consistent level of form around this distance of 2080metres. Cumani does very well down under with these staying horses. Nudge bar has shown a decent level of form but has been very busy in recent months and was involved in a real slog at Caulfield on his most recent start. He’ll do well to bounce back here.

In race 6, The General is a confident selection. This promising 3 year old son of Charm Spirit has shown blistering speed for all the way wins over course and distance on his most recent starts. The slight worry here is that a slow start could lead to him being blocked in from his draw in barrier 1.

This contest is over the minimum 1000 metres(5 furlongs) so a fast start is essential. If this happens I can see him running his rivals into the ground under Michael Walker. Pariano was second to The General on her most recent start and meets the favourite on 2.5kg better terms but I can’t see that making a difference as she was well and truly put in her place in that race.

Write Enuff was consistent back in the spring but is without a win since May 2018. Could pick up the pieces if the race falls apart up front.