It's not unusual for Ralph Manning to fly under the radar as a quality trainer.
It seems inexplicable - does everyone forget what the Cambridge horseman did with Seachange?
Don't be surprised if Manning has huge success at Riccarton today.
He has class act Innovation going for five straight in the main race, the $100,000 Estaronline Winter Cup, but it won't be a one-act play. Civics Rock in Race 6, Wanabefamous in the 7th and Snow Excuse in Race 3 will keep the stable busy.
As much as the fifth-on-end victory becomes something of a mental hurdle, there is no realistic reason why the classy mare cannot achieve her aim off a comfortable 54kg platform. She can handle wet tracks and finishes her races off strongly - the two most important factors for today's race.
Traditionally this has been the perfect race for upsets and if Innovation is beaten, it could be by any one of 10 runners.
Mark Oulaghan is the trainer to follow year by year at this meeting. The Manawatu horseman has Wotabuzz (No5) in Race 1 and with two wins and two placings from five hurdle races, he looks the perfect way to start the day.
Sea King (No6) has a similar record and is the one to beat.
You should probably never tip a horse that hasn't been seen in public in any format. Platinum Lincoln (No7, R2) is one of them, but Lisa Latta wouldn't be taking a horse like that to the South Island just for experience. The 3-year-old is one of the talented Iffraaj breed and the tote will tell the story five minutes before the jump.
Bally Heights (No3, R4) hasn't had a steeplechase, but being one of Paul Nelson's team you can bet he's jumped plenty of the bigger fences at home. He looks a likely type for chasing and he should give a great sight.
The winter track is going to suit Civics Rock (No7, R6). His formline is extremely consistent and the 54kg looks comfortable.
His stablemate Wanabefamous (No5, R7) is almost certain to miss out on a run in the Winter Cup from the ballot, but he will be the one to beat in this 1800m event. There was something to like about his clear-cut Taranaki win last start.
Smartly (No8, R9) finished second to Wanabefamous in that Taranaki race and does not face one as good this time. Negotiate (No7) is close to another win. Quinella might be a good look.By Mike Dillon Email Mike