Brydon Delight is the perfect example of what punters need to look out for as northern harness racing enters the annual summer changeover today.
Which suggests he is the best each-way bet in the pacing feature on today's dual-code meeting at Ruakaka.
While the dual-code Northland meeting is a regular feature on the racing calendar, today's is different in that the harness meeting will also be staged on the grass track at Ruakaka.
With Ruakaka renowned as one of the best galloping surfaces in New Zealand, the move is a smart one as the harness track, with its tight, flat bends, is a shocker and provided some of the most leader-biased racing in New Zealand.
However, grass track form is just one consideration punters should be factoring in today - a far more important one is the gap between country horses and those who have been racing at Alexandra Park.
After a month of brutally hard premier racing at Alexandra Park, some of these combatants start looking for relief on the country circuit.
That means you end up with horses like Brydon Delight, who have poor form on paper but have been racing in far stronger fields and pacing times much quicker than horses with recent winning form in weaker company.
Brydon Delight is the best example of that in the Northland Cup today, with his past three starts being on premier nights.
He finished third to a classy act in All Star Man on December 7, and was midfield in his next two races so drops about eight to 10 lengths in quality today.
The 5-year-old is no star but is the sole limit marker and loves to run in front, so in a small field unlikely to contain much pressure he is the best, even allowing for his average grass track record.
The Rogerson-Blanchard stable will provide two of the six starters, with Rogerson favouring Dead Calm.
He looked to be a pacer heading places two seasons ago but has failed to reach his potential.
Still, he has won a grass track country cup before and won't find many weaker fields than today.
The best bet of the day looks to be the aptly named Splendid Bet in race seven, who was brave winning at Te Aroha last Saturday and meets a similar field here.
Meanwhile, junior driver Zac Butcher almost pulled off a clean sweep of the four harness racing events at yesterday's Tauherenikau meeting. Butcher drove the first three winners, all trained by Peter Scaife, and ran second, beaten half a length by Estilo, in the last race, driven by his father, David.
Zac sits second on the national junior driver's premiership and seventh equal with Tony Herlihy on the overall driver's premiership.By Michael Guerin Email Michael