In this article, regular contributor Philip Roy takes a look at the best autumn carnival prospects from some of the leading stables in Sydney and Melbourne, and tries to pinpoint those horses that could land some decent wins in March and April.

As the autumn carnival swings right into top gear this month March, and into April, the 'guns' of the nation's most successful trainers - the turf titans - are going to be aimed at the money-spinning big races.

What better tactic for a small punter than to 'adopt' a stable or two and follow their horses through the carnival racing. A punter could certainly do worse than to use this approach. It saves much agonising over form!

The trainer I suspect is going to get up with a win or two, or even three or four, is the redoubtable Gal Waterhouse. She hasn't been on the training scene for too long but I think it's accurate to say that she has taken Sydney by storm.

As the years go by, it would be no surprise at all to see Gai become Sydney's No 1 trainer - just as her dad Tommy Smith was for so many years. From dad to daughter - what a dynasty!

The five horses I have isolated from Gai's stable are Stony Bay, Flight To Fantasy, Pharaoh, Doctor's Orders and Balmeressa. Stony Bay is a former NZer with staying potential. He ran 3rd to Blevic and Danewin in last October's Victoria Derby over 2500m and Gai will surely be thinking Sydney Cup with him.

Flight To Fantasy won a 1350m 3yo restricted race at Rosehill last October and then was spelled until recently, when she came out firstup and blitzed a fillies and mares field at Rosehill (1350m). The manner in which she disposed of the opposition indicates she is a class act.

Pharaoh, an old-stager now, returned to race in late January and shaped nicely over 1000m, a distance much too short for him. He could still be good enough to win a nice race.

John Hawkes is a trainer with a big team, thanks to the Ingham brothers, and he should be able to clean up any number of top-class races. I think we can see wins coming from the following members of his team - Strategic (Golden Slipper chance), Deposition, Silence Prevails, The Golden Greek, Identikit, Batwing and Every Detail.

Strategic must have a wonderful Slipper chance. He won the Silver Slipper at Rosehill last October, beating Sir Debonaire in easy fashion, and is due to resume racing in the Carlton Slipper at Gosford in late February. Deposition is an old-timer who resumed from a spell with a slashing win over 1100m at Rosehill on January 14. He is still good enough to win a major Group 1 or 2 race.

Kerry Jordan, who rarely has a big team, looks as if he holds a nice hand this year with Baryshnikov, Innocent King and In His Own. Baryshnikov, although beaten at Randwick on January 28, is a top-notch galloper well capable of big race wins.

It goes without saying that Lee Freedman has a strong team. His best prospects include Big Sky Montana, Schillaci, Durbridge, Mahogany, Bourbon And Ice, Danzero, Northwood Plume, Gold Ace and Paris Lane.

Gold Ace, unlucky runner-up in the Magic Millions, is a solid Golden Slipper prospect. Paris Lane can win anything around 1600m to 3200m!

Brian Mayfield-Smith has a handy team in work. His best could be the promising 2yo filly Amber, a great winner at Randwick in early January. Max Lees, always a force to be respected, has Flitter and Magic Millions winner Zephyrz as his main two-pronged carnival weapon. Flitter resumed from a spell to run an excellent race at Randwick on  January 28.

Gerald Ryan is one of Melbourne's most astute trainers. He can win a big race with Hurricane Sky. Another Victorian trainer with a one-horse mega-chance is Ken Newman, with Hareeba, explosive winner at Flemington on Australia Day. Given firm conditions, Hareeba is unbeatable at Flemington.

David Hayes can never be left out of any carnival calculations, though this will be his final autumn carnival in Australia for some time, given the fact of his departure later in the year for Hong Kong.

His best prospects include Jeune, Primacy, St Covet, Blevic, Voting, Sure Cut and Prime Address, though there are others in the stable very likely to perform well (including Dark Ksar).

Jeune, last year's Melbourne Cup winner, hopefully will 'come up' again following his arduous spring performances. St Covet was beaten first-up but turned in a big effort.

Of the other big names, I suggest we keep a close eye on the following:

John Wallace: Oompala, Melchisedech
Bruce McLachlan: Pottinger
Jack Denham: Majahi
Bruce Elkington: Valdazair
John Meagher: Springhill Lad
Eric Kirwan: Brave Warrior
Leon Corstens: Never Undercharge
Bart Cummings: Super Monarch.

Oompala ran a mighty race in last year's Melbourne Cup. He looks Queensland's brightest hope for a Sydney Cup win. Brave Warrior failed first-up after a spell but his connections will remain confident of a big-race win in Sydney.

I have chosen a handful of horses as *** specials for the March and April racing. I hope I am on the mark in suggesting they will do well and maybe win some of the major races.

By Steve McAllister