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2022 The Gong Runner By Runner Preview, Odds & Tips

Feature racing moves from Newcastle to Kembla Grange this Saturday, with the running of The Gong, worth $1m in prize money. The 1600m Quality handicap is another new addition to the Racing NSW calendar and has become a target race for horses continuing their campaigns deep into the Spring. Last year Count De Rupee was too good for his rivals in The Gong, after a close up second to I’m Thunderstruck in the Golden Eagle the start prior.

The market for this year’s mile feature is very open and Dabble currently has last start Flemington winner Old Flame favourite at $5.50. A host of runners including; Hope In Your Heart ($7.50), Brutality ($7.50), Rustic Steel ($8.00) and Ridioni ($9.00) are all given a chance and it’s out to $13 or longer the rest.

With a capacity field set to do battle and no clear cut favourite, this year’s The Gong looks a tricky race for punters to get a gauge on. So, we have dissected each of the horses’ chances for you and provided our horse racing tips! Read on below to find our runner by runner preview of the 2022 The Gong along with The Shark’s best tips. 

1. Just Folk (17) – $21
Jockey – Jarrod Fry 59kg
Trainer – Joshua Julius

Bendigo trained gelding who battled away well last start at Flemington under the big weight. His efforts in the Seymour Cup and Craven Plate prior were solid. Connections will be hoping to go one better here but he has a tough task ahead of him from the wide gate and 59kg on his back.

2. Kolding (4) – $26
Jockey – Joshua Parr 59kg
Trainer – Chris Waller

Knuckled badly out of the gates last start in the Champions Mile and did well to finish where he did, despite only beating one runner home. Runs prior were nothing to write home about. Needs to find on recent form but should be nearing his peak this preparation and can improve.

3. Promise Of Success (2) – $13
Jockey – Kerrin McEvoy 58.5kg
Trainer – John O’Shea

Caused a boil over in The Invitation two starts back before an even effort at Flemington last time out. Drawn an inside gate again here which isn’t ideal considering her racing pattern, but should get track conditions to suit and will be charging late if the gaps open up.

4. Rustic Steel (5) – $8.00
Jockey – Brenton Avdulla 58.5kg
Trainer – Kris Lees

Put a smile on connections’ faces, and their bank account, last start when winning the $2m Big Dance at Randwick. Is unbeaten at the mile and handles all conditions. Will get a good run in transit from the nice gate and has to be considered a winning chance again.

5. Kirwan’s Lane (16) – $20
Jockey – Tom Sherry 58kg
Trainer – John O’Shea

*This horse has since been scratched.*

Chased hard to score a tough win last start at Hawkesbury over the mile. Form prior was solid. Barrier draw has done him no favours here and will need some early luck, but is hard fit now and can finish in the prize money.

6. Surf Dancer (9) – $15
Jockey – Rachel King 58kg
Trainer – Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott

Led them up and held on well last start in the Big Dance under 61kg. Had excuses the start prior and beat Old Flame fresh. Will make his presence felt early, as he usually does, and should be in it for a long way. Each-way chance.

7. Berdibek (6) – $51
Jockey – Sam Clipperton 56.5kg
Trainer – John O’Shea

Third of the O’Shea runners who resumes here off the back of the Grafton Cup. Has had two trials in readiness for this but usually takes a run or two to find his best form and may be better suited over further now that he’s nine years old.

8. Old Flame (19) – $5.50F
Jockey – Tommy Berry 56.5kg
Trainer – Peter & Paul Snowden

Was well supported at Flemington last start and won well. Steps up to a mile now where he is yet to win a race and has drawn the car park. No doubt he is one of the winning chances on form alone, but at the price on offer, there looks to be more value.

9. Sky Lab (3) – $16
Jockey – Winona Costin 56.5kg
Trainer – Paul Perry

Resumed from a spell last Saturday in The Hunter and absolutely charged through the line late. The seven day backup suggests he has come through the run well and is a winner second up and at the mile. A repeat of that effort would see him hard to beat here.

10. Atishu (14)
Jockey – Jay Ford 56kg
Trainer – Chris Waller


11. Oscar Zulu (13) – $15
Jockey – Chad Schofield 56kg
Trainer – Chris Waller

Had a nice run in transit and was too good first up in the Goulburn Cup. Runner up was a strong winner last Saturday. Steps up to the mile now where he has raced well in the past and will appreciate the weight relief. Not the worst.

12. Hope In Your Heart (15) – $7.50
Jockey – Jason Collett 55.5kg
Trainer – Kerry Parker

Locally trained galloper who strung three wins together before an excellent fourth in the Golden Eagle last start. Beat home Vilana and In The Congo on that occasion which reads well and she’s a winner at the mile. Will need some luck early from the wide alley but should be strong late. Definite winning hope.

13. Brutality (11) – $7.50
Jockey – Regan Bayliss 54.5kg
Trainer – Joseph Pride

Got a long way back and made some good ground along the inside last Saturday in The Hunter. Steps up to 1600m now which is a big plus and he’s been set for this race. Will be ridden closer from the middle draw and will be breathing down their neck at the furlong. Can win.

14. Purple Sector (1) – $15
Jockey – Reece Jones (a) 54.5kg
Trainer – John Thompson

Had the race shot to pieces last start at Randwick before being nabbed on the line. Finished second to Old Flame and Top Ranked earlier this prep. Should get a nice run behind the speed from the inside gate and can run into the placings once again at good odds.

15. Love Tap (18) – $19
Jockey – Andrew Adkins 53.5kg
Trainer – Richard & Will Freedman

Returned to the winners stall first up at Flemington in BM90 grade. Will appreciate the big weight drop here and has a good second up record but will need plenty of luck from the wide gate and will find this race harder. Not out of it but needs to improve again second up to make it two from two this prep.

16. Riodini (8) – $9.00
Jockey – Tim Clark 53.5kg
Trainer – Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott

Pleasing effort first up despite finishing well back before another solid finish last start in the Winners Stakes. Should be primed for this third up and looks as though he’s wanting the mile now. One of the main hopes.

17e. Wild Planet (7) – $41
Jockey – Zac Lloyd (a) 53.5kg
Trainer – Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes

Hasn’t been far away, without threatening, in three runs back this prep. Racing as though the mile will suit but he hasn’t won for a long time and needs to find a few lengths to get back in the winners stall here.

18e. Parry Sound (12) – $126
Jockey – Dylan Gibbons (a) 54kg
Trainer – Sara Ryan

Former Bjorn Baker trained galloper who resumes here for the new yard. Yet to win first up from five goes and is unplaced at the mile. Will more than likely need this hitout.

19e. Steely (10) – $21
Jockey – Tyler Schiller (a) 52kg
Trainer – Gerald Ryan & Sterling Alexiou

*This horse has since been scratched.*

Had his chance last start in the Little Dance but ran well nevertheless. Has a brilliant record here at Kembla and races well at the mile but needs to run a career best to win this. Place best.

20e. Kiss Sum (20) – $23
Jockey – N/A 54kg
Trainer – Tracey Bartley

*This horse has since been scratched.*

Ran on well first up in the Silver Eagle to finish a close up fifth to Vilana. Thrown in the deep end last start and happy to forgive. Capable of improving back in this grade but the outside draw is a big blow. Needs luck but can figure in the finish.

Final Word

There looks plenty of depth in this year’s running of The Gong and although there may not be any I’m Thunderstuck’s lining up, a capacity field of quality gallopers will greet the starter.

Hard to ignore the form of Hope In Your Heart. She strung three solid wins together before a close up fourth in the Golden Eagle last start. She beat home the likes of Vilana and In The Congo on that occasion. As we saw last year, that form is a good reference for this race and she looks hard to beat again.

Brutality has been set for this race and has found the line well over shorter trips this prep. He will be ridden closer from the middle gate here and looks the definite danger. 

Riodini has similar form lines to Brutality and looks as though the mile should suit. Purple Sector brings some strong form into the race and will enjoy a good run behind the speed and Sky Lab is more than capable of running well if he can reproduce his effort from last Saturday.

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12. Hope In Your Heart – Each-way ($7.50/$2.65)

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*Odds correct at time of writing, courtesy of Dabble.

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2021 The Gong Runner By Runner Preview, Odds & Tips

We head to Kembla Grange for the third running of The Gong, and there is a capacity field for the $1M feature race. There are plenty of horses that have been competitive throughout the Spring Carnival, in both Sydney and Melbourne, while Archedemus is back to defend his crown. While the track, as of Friday morning, is currently a Good4, this preview is written with the expectation that the rain does come and takes it more into a soft range. 

Looking at the market, Sportsbet has Count De Rupee as the $3.70 favourite. He comes into this race on the back of a very impressive second to I’m Thunderstruck in the Golden Eagle. Behind him in the market, there are just three others in single figures. Atishu ($7), who also comes out of the Golden Eagle, I Am Superman ($7.50), who finished ran 8th in the Winner Stakes, and Aramayo ($8), who was competitive in the Epsom Handicap before finishing 3L off in the Cantala Stakes. 

However, it isn’t just limited to those four, so we have dissected each of the horses’ chances for you! Read on below to find out runner by runner preview of the 2021 The Gong along with The Shark’s The Gong best tips. 

1. I Am Superman (1) – $8
Jockey – Tommy Berry
Trainer – Peter & Paul Snowden

He has had two hard sprint races to get him wound up for this and comes out of the right form race, the Classique Legend Stakes, considering Lost And Running brained them last week and I Am Superman was only 4L off him three weeks ago. He also beat Think It Over in the Autumn, who has come out and had one of the best Spring Carnivals out there, he’s drawn perfectly and Tommy Berry is in fine form. The only knock is that he is the top weight and all of his better form is over shorter than this, but he is clearly one of the main chances.

2. Berdibek (2) – $23
Jockey – Hugh Bowman
Trainer – John O’Shea

Berdibek was extremely good to go back to back earlier this season, including winning the Wyong Cup, but then was no match for them in the Newcastle Gold Cup. He has had nine weeks off since then and has won first up previously but he will be better over further and with less weight against those better suited to the trip. 

3. Aramayo (14) – $9
Jockey – James McDonald
Trainer – Chris Waller

Aramayo had an outstanding start to his preparation, placing in three straight races, including a 2nd in the Epsom Handicap. Unfortunately, he went down to Melbourne and was no match in the Cantala Stakes, however all his form is in the clockwise direction. He is also a 1600m horse but he is yet to win from 10 tries on rain affected tracks, so he will be hoping the rain stays off and the track stays in the good range. 

4. Count De Rupee (17) – $3.90
Jockey – Brock Ryan
Trainer – Robert & Luke Price

The clear favourite in the race following his outstanding 2nd in the Golden Eagle, Count De Rupee steps up to 1600m for the first time in his career. He has finished in the top three in all three of his runs this prep, including a win here at Kembla Grange first up. He has three wins and a second from four runs at the track and has good form on both good and soft tracks. 

5. Quackerjack (8) – $21
Jockey – Joshua Parr
Trainer – Mark Newnham

Did come second in this race two years ago, when it was first run, but hard to be with Quackerjack based on current form. 

6. Nudge (6) – $23
Jockey – Jason Collett
Trainer – Chris Waller

Nudge has won at the track and 1600m seems to be her go, but she’s never won 4th up and never won on soft tracks, so if the rain comes then she may be no good. She also didn’t burst through the line over 1400m her last start, so she may not be ready for a genuine 1600m this time around.

7. Archedemus (19) – $46
Jockey – Jay Ford
Trainer – Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes

The defending champion would suprise many if he was able to feature in the finish. He does have very impressive stats – at Kembla Grange, over 1600m, and on soft tracks, while Jay Ford has one win from two tries on him. However, he hasn’t finished better than 7th this time around. 

8. Dawn Passage (9) – $18
Jockey – Tim Clark
Trainer – Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott

Dawn Passage jumped as favourite for this race last year and finished just 0.2L off the win, however he had much better form leading into that race. Back to back thirds reads a lot better than an 11th and a 15th, which he has done this time around. The blinkers going back on seems more of a desperation move than a stroke of genius and we are happy to go without.

9. Reloaded (4) – $31
Jockey – Glyn Schofield
Trainer – Chris Waller

Reloaded is quite a good fresh horse (3:1-0-1) and has had seven weeks between runs for this one. He has finished top three in four of his six runs on soft tracks, so will be hoping the rain comes, and he has done well at the distance, but there are a few better. Maybe one for the exotics?

10. Rich Hips (13) – $13
Jockey – Regan Bayliss
Trainer – Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young

The Busuttin & Young camp are taking a big risk here. They were extremely impressed with her win on Melbourne Cup Day and have decided to try her at 1600m again, despite it clearly not being her best distance. She has also had three runs the Sydney way of going and hasn’t placed in all three, indicating that there may be some adjusting that needs to happen, which she can’t afford to do here. 

11. Atishu (7) – $6.50
Jockey – Kerrin McEvoy
Trainer – Chris Waller

Atishu started off her first Australian prep well, winning two of her first three races. However, she couldn’t keep up in the Epsom Handicap and Golden Eagle. The positive is she has finished in the top two in five of her six runs on rain affected tracks, has one win from two tries at the distance and does get some weight relief on those that have finished ahead of her in those previous two races. The issue is, she did finish well behind them in those races and Kerrin McEvoy couldn’t win a one horse race at the moment. 

12. Blue Soldier (3) – $35
Jockey – Tom Sherry
Trainer – David Payne

He finished no better than third from eight tries at group level and is unplaced from three runs on soft tracks. Happy to be without. 

13. Criaderas (20) – $20
Jockey – TBC
Trainer – James Cummings

After missing out on a start in last week’s The Hunter, Criaderas comes to Kembla Grange, where he is 1/1, for The Gong. He has now had four weeks between runs and has exceptional 2nd up form, but has drawn the widest gate in the field. If whoever the jockey is can sit in the three wide line with cover, hopefully Criaderas can burst home in the finish. However, we know the story about the Godolphin that had too much work to do and just missing. 

14. Soldier Of Love (11) – $21
Jockey – Rachel King
Trainer – Bjorn Baker

While Rachel King and Soldier Of Love have a clear affinity for one another, it is hard to see him winning this race. He hasn’t even won at listed level previously and there are some genuine Group One horses in this. 

15. Exoboom (10) – $27
Jockey – Robbie Dolan
Trainer – Peter & Paul Snowden

Exoboom was fancied as an outside chance in the Golden Eagle but failed to fire, finishing 6.4L back in 15th. He is 1/1 at the track but is also untried at the distance and would need to improve leaps and bounds to compete in the finish here. 

16. Yamazaki (5) – $41
Jockey – Andrew Adkins
Trainer – Matthew Dunn

It is hard to see any upside for Yamazaki in this race. She hasn’t won from 10 tries at 1600m and she has just one third placing from five fourth up runs. 

17e. Looks Like Elvis (16) – $67
Jockey – Alysha Collett
Trainer – Jarrod Austin

Looks Like Elvis actually wouldn’t be a bad shout as a roughie, but he is an emergency and will need luck to get in.

18e. Grove Ferry (12) – $101
Jockey – Jean Van Overmeire
Trainer – Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott

Is second emergency and would need a headstart to compete. 

19e. Parry Sound (15) – $126
Jockey – TBA
Trainer – Bjorn Baker

Is the third emergency and unlikely to get a run. 

20e. Brutality (18) – $35
Jockey – Kathy O’Hara
Trainer – Joe Pride

Has conditions to suit but needs four to pull out to get a run. 

Final Word

There are some genuine chances in this race and while Count De Rupee probably deserves to be favourite, we are happy to look around the favourite, in his first trip up to 1600m. There are also some horses, especially near the top of the market, that are deep in their preps and may have looked like nearing the end of them in their last runs. 

Based on this, we are taking I Am Superman to come out on top in the 2021 The Gong. While he has to carry the top weight, Mister Sea Wolf carried 59kg to victory in 2019, showing that it can be done. He has had two hard sprint races to start his prep, meaning he will be rock hard fit for this assignment, and we have seen the form out of the Classique Legend Stakes already. 

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The query is a strong 1600m race, but he has drawn barrier 1 and Tommy Berry will be able to find a perfect spot with cover on the fence, biting time for a gap to come up in the straight. If we are looking at an outside chance, you have to consider Criaderas 2nd up from a spell, especially if the rain comes, but we are happy to lock in I Am Superman in this year’s The Gong.

With Sportsbet offering a bonus bet back to 4th at Kembla Grange, we are confident that a bet on I Am Superman will return you cash or a bonus bet at the absolute least, which you can use on our best Railway Stakes tip we have provided for our followers! 

Best The Gong Tip: I Am Superman – Win ($8)

There are other feature races going on around the country! We have provided you with a runner-by-runner preview of the Railway Stakes over in Perth, so don’t miss out on our value play in that race!

If you need more news, information and predictions, head over to our The Gong page for all your punting needs!

*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of Sportsbet