Most trainers would be delighted to draw barrier one in a race like tomorrow's $50,000 Westbury Stud Challenge Stakes at Ruakaka.
Tony Pike is less than happy his unbeaten star Sacred Falls has drawn the rails. "Yes, it is a concern for us because he won't be able to use it," said Pike yesterday.
"He'll be back mid-field on the rail."
Sacred Falls has looked a colt of enormous potential in his two winning runs. He had to overcome difficulties to win on this track on debut then ran away for a massive victory at Te Rapa.
The stable believes he will improve considerably with this race, but are also reasonable confident he is fit enough to win.
"He hasn't had a barrier trial, but he's pretty forward and is a natural runner," said co-trainer Mark Donoghue.
The stable is delighted with Sacred Falls' attitude.
"He's got a really nice nature, he's a fantastic horse to have around the stable."
Tony Pike said the Guineas races are obvious targets for Sacred Falls.
"Safely through this race he'll go to the Hawkes Bay Guineas then the Guineas at Riccarton."
There will be plenty of opposition for Sacred Falls. Southern Lord is talented. His juvenile win on this track in July was very stylish, even if he raced greenly. He is improving with each run and is going to be in this finish.
Buckland Boy finished second to Sacred Falls when both horses made their debut on this track. He then missed a placing and has won his past two. He has plenty of early speed to overcome his widish barrier.
Travino and Silverdale, along with Silver City help add to a highly competitive race.
Group-rated metric miles at Manawatu are almost always extremely difficult to predict - the $70,000 Merial Ancare Metric Mile tomorrow hits that mark perfectly.
In-form Art Beat has 57.5kg, which is a touch more than you like to see a mare carrying, but has the record to back up her chances.
After a dashing win at Riccarton she found little home-straight luck behind Ocean Park at Hastings last start and deserves plenty of attention here.
The heavy (11) track will certainly play into her hands.
Jeu de Cartes is best known as a stayer, but fresh from a spell, she will run a mighty race at 1600m.
This could be a big season for the Cambridge mare.
Thought should also be given to her stablemate Mackadoo who has yet to live up to the potential he showed as a 3-year-old, when he won at Caulfield.
He won at Gate Pa last start and like several of the High Chaparral stock has form on heavy tracks.By Mike Dillon Email Mike