Silverdale is going to be at short odds in Race 2 at Te Rapa today - possibly too short for some - but he rates highly as the best prospect on the day.
He's carrying his full topweight of 59kg as a 3-year-old against older horses, which doesn't get the excitement going, but he is a smart type, has drawn No 2 and has Opie Bosson to guide him around.
He's not the fastest over the first 200m of his races and Bosson had a problem keeping him handy when he resumed from the rails gate when he finished second at Rotorua.
But from the inside this time, Bosson will know Silverdale better. He is very strong in the final stages of his races and will be fitter than he was at Rotorua.
This race is sponsored by Hamilton Veterinary Services and because of that a win by possibly the main danger in Exabelle would be appropriate. HVS veterinarian Douglas Black is a part owner of the beautifully bred mare.
There will be plenty of betting in Race 1. It will not be an easy race to win, but Savabella Rose (No8) is a Savabeel filly that might be worth following. She impressed in her debut fourth, was spelled and came back with a narrow but stylish maiden win first-up. She looks like a staying type and the jump from 1350m to 1600m might be the key. Usainity (No2) looks promising and is drawn to get a great trip.
The Keith and Brendon Hawtin stable is on fire and dashing juvenile Devour (No2, R3) is going to go around as favourite. Barrier draws are very important in 2-year-old races any time and particularly at Te Rapa. Devour has drawn the outside No 9 gate, but she has got back in her two races and powered home, so the barrier could be somewhat negated. If she gets a fair crack she is the one to beat.
Probably bad luck is the biggest problem for Fix (No1, R5) against the good fillies. She overcame obstacles to win the 2000m Royal Stakes at Ellerslie and this time has drawn perfectly at No 2. Take the short odds.
Have No Mercy (No2, R6) was trapped wide when well beaten at Trentham last start, so you can probably forget that and go on the winning run in open company at Hastings the previous outing. He has drawn better this time and drops 1kg. Guns At Five (No1) is capable of a big race, particularly with 4kg off his back.
The $200,000 Darci Brahma International is not an easy race on the punt, but Artistic (No10, R7) has shown this time that she is coming up beautifully.
She worked very well with Zurella between races at Te Rapa last Saturday and is primed to produce her best from a perfect barrier draw from the 2000m starting point. There are plenty of chances, but Artistic has a touch of class.
Lady Kipling (No8) has the right form behind her and Sangster (No2) and Historian (No2) have the class to be big threats.
Medici (No2, R8) was hampered by a slow pace and a sprint home in the Cup at Manawatu last start. Under the circumstances he did well to finish only 1.7 lengths from the winner, Ransomed, in seventh place. There will be more pace on in this race.
The $200,000 Waikato Draught Sprint is a great betting race. You can make a case for at least four of them, Better Than Ever (No1, R9), Final Touch (No8), Fleur de Lune (No9) and Xanadu (No10). And if Guiseppina (No11), Fazzle (No12) or Zurella (No13) won no one would fall over with astonishment.
Better Than Ever might be the forgotten horse - a term made popular in Australia, but one that fits this former outstanding Singapore star perfectly. He had no luck when second in his New Zealand debut on December 22 and trainer Jason Bridgman has kept him fresh for this, which is at his pet 1400m distance. Mufhasa went a fast 1.22 for the 1400m at Manawatu, which made it hard for Better Than Ever, who was not getting his ideal passage. He has drawn awkwardly at No 10 this time, but there is a reasonable run down the back straight at Te Rapa from the 1400m and he has tactical speed.
Fleur de Lune is going to take beating if she can cross the field from gate No 9. Winning three of her four Te Rapa starts is a wonderful stat and she has a heart right out of the ordinary in the closing stages of her races.
Final Touch has to be New Zealand's most underrated horse a month or so back and Xanadu is massively talented. Her second to Final Touch in the Telegraph at Trentham was stunning and the 1400m is going to suit better.
Black Hennessy (No 9, R10) didn't get all the breaks when close up at Manawatu last start. He had to overcome obstacles to win at Trentham and is a horse of real potential. This race is well within his scope. Zonza (No7) is up for the fight and Eightlives (No5) is strong.