What great value Annie Higgins looks to be at $12 in tomorrow's $200,000 Pacific Jewellers Wellington Cup.
The Matamata mare may have been the beaten favourite in the City Of Auckland Cup last start, but it was a race in which nothing went right.
Annie Higgins had to go to the back of the field from her wide gate at the 2400m start and pretty much her chances ended there on a day when winners were coming from up front.
If she had any chance of beating that pattern by finishing strongly, that was eliminated when she and Leith Innes were turned sideway in an extremely severe check on the home bend.
You can completely forget that run. All the previous form by Annie Higgins was smart, including her victory in the Waikato Times Gold Cup at Te Rapa two starts ago.
Because Spiro is in the field with 59kg topweight and pushing all the others down in the weights, Annie Higgins is in extremely well on the minimum weight of 52kg. Regular rider Leith Innes will be doing it relatively tough this week to waste down to the 52kg.
My Scotsgrey is another who comes in well in the weights at 54kg, after carrying big weights since his New Zealand Cup victory.
After a leg problem and a spell, he has come back well and his close second to rising star Ransomed at Manawatu last start showed he was again close to his best.
"Unquestionably, he is the big improver in the race," says trainer Shaune Ritchie.
"He is just approaching his best, while some of these horses have been up and racing for a while."
My Scotsgrey was one of those badly affected by the ridiculously slow pace of the Manawatu race.
Normally a slug in his races who needs punching along, the big grey was actually pulling against the slow speed in the middle stages.
"He's done two things he's never done before, he got up and running at Manawatu and he won his first track gallop at home the other morning, so he's clearly approaching his best."
My Scotsgrey got the better of Miss Isle in a Cambridge track gallop.
Ritchie is not worried about the very wide barrier draw.
"He falls out of the gates like a drunk at the best of times. He's going to get back so the wide barrier is largely irrelevant.
"If he can take the same improvement into this race from Manawatu that he took into Manawatu from Te Rapa, he's going to be awfully hard to beat."
Ritchie and his father, Frank, had a scare this week when Australian 2-year-old Minaj, here for Sunday's Karaka Million, developed a very high temperature while stabled at the Ritchie barn.
"No, we've taken the temperature of all our horses and they seem unaffected by the other filly.
"I'm sure the problem was travel-related.
"When you travel occasionally you get this type of thing - when you're in the air there is a lack of immunity in the horse.
"She didn't seem too visibly sick, but her temperature was through the roof. It was almost as high as Bonecrusher's was when he got sick in Japan and he nearly died."
Probably not surprisingly, Ransomed, winner of his past three, is the TAB favourite for the Cup, although he is slightly easy in the market at $5.50.
Even though he beat My Scotsgrey at Manawatu, Ransomed was hampered by the slow tempo. That should not be an issue for either horse in this race.
Last week's stylish winner O'Fille is second favourite at $7, followed by My Scotsgrey at $9 and Annie Higgins.
Full Of Spirit has a slightly awkward barrier draw to contend with in the $200,000 group one Thorndon Mile, but she will be well fancied to make up for her narrow defeat at the Ellerslie carnival.
Full Of Spirit looked certain to win the Rich Hill Mile until Miss Pelear came along with an astonishing finish to grab her late.
Miss Pelear meets Full Of Spirit 2kg worse off this time.By Mike Dillon Email Mike