On a day light on Pick6 anchors, a freshened Molto Grato shapes as an early bank-builder at Te Rapa today.
The promising 3-year-old ran a huge third this course and distance in a similar state last December.
That was in a far stronger field and he had no luck in the running.
His last-start effort for ninth in the listed Karaka Mile behind Rock 'n' Pop at Ellerslie was also better than it looked on paper.
Factor in Chris Dell's 3kg claim and Molto Grato should be tough to beat back in R65 company in race two today.
Leg One: Mackas Back has to rate after impressing in both trial wins, the most recent in the fastest 950m juvenile heat at Cambridge on March 8. He should enjoy a perfect trip from the inside gate. Waterford jumps from the opposite end, but will be in it for a long way. She showed good gate speed in her only raceday appearance for third last November. A recent 800m trial win, also at Cambridge, showed she was forward enough to be a big threat. Round out the spread with Its All On, who will appreciate the class-drop from her recent outings. They include a debut third to subsequent group two winner Rollout The Carpet this course and distance in February.
Leg Two: Highly rated filly Bella Kaiane has been expensive in her only three raceday appearances.
But this field is a notch below those line-ups and she will have strengthened with a summer's break. From the three gate she's the best anchor today. If you can afford the insurance, throw in the slow-maturing Light N Tasty. She has also drawn handily and won't have to improve much on her last-start second to Blue Nile at Pukekohe to feature again.
Leg Three: The aptly named The Looker appeared to have his R65 rivals covered on the corner in his fresh-up effort over 1400m at Matamata on March 14. With Rory Hutchings' 2kg claim and the benefit of that run under his belt, he's going to be even tougher to beat here over 1600m. He's a big, bold galloper who looks ready for the trip now. Are You Devious looks to have a touch of class about her. She was only just nabbed by Beyond Desire this course and distance in early February. A freshened Large Risk is also worth including if the budget can stretch. He impressed winning his maiden on debut over this trip in September.
Leg Four: Last-start New Zealand Derby runner Nine Pin will be tough to beat in this grade. He copped a check early on at Ellerslie on March 3 and didn't get warm after that on an unsuitable track. If he's bounced back, he'd only need to run up to his earlier form to win this. High Voltage, Flying Legend and Carniva Boy should all be included in a tricky race. High Voltage has been awaiting a decent track.
Leg Five: Joy, another promising filly from Roger James' stable, looks the one to beat after her last-start second over 1150m at Paeroa on March 5. The 16 draw is a concern but she doesn't appear to be the sharpest beginner anyway. There should also be enough early pace in the race to aid the back runners. If you can afford it, also include Wrecking Crew and the filly trio of Imperial Miss, Taats and My Blossom Lady.
Leg Six: The proven Veyron team of Linda Laing and comeback rider Rogan Norvall combine with stablemate El Felino, who could be at generous odds in this line-up. She's improving with every run in this campaign, the most recent effort for a close-up fourth this course and distance on March 17. Seuss has also to be on the ticket after his last two seconds. The wide gate shouldn't be a deterrent with such a long run into the first bend. In an open race, also include the progressive types Mickeys Mate, Bronte Lass and Rossita, and for value consider the unlucky Eastward. He's much better than his recent form indicates. He was a late-closing fifth this course over 1400m in February.By James Graham