Racing: Cash pours in on exciting colt in Classic

By Mike Dillon

Sacred Star will start favourite in the Telegraph while Rasa Lila looks a great bet early on Trentham card
Xtravagant wows the crowd at Ellerslie on Boxing Day. Photo / Trish Dunell
Xtravagant wows the crowd at Ellerslie on Boxing Day. Photo / Trish Dunell

Interesting the TAB says 92 per cent of all money in today's $225,000 Woodridge Homes Levin Classic at Trentham is on Xtravagant.

Exit right there the theory that New Zealanders, unlike our Aussie mates, don't take short odds on racehorses.

The reason this time? Simple - Xtravagant is remarkable, remarkably difficult to beat and a true excitement machine. You don't have to back him to get an absolute thrill, you get that simply watching him.

The cheer that went up when the gorgeous colt broke six lengths clear at the 350m at Ellerslie on Boxing Day was deafening. It moderated only slightly when his conditions gave out and he was eased down to score by 1.3 lengths.

There will be no running out of condition today as Xtravagant tries for four straight wins and heads into massive summer and autumn targets. Even without a bet, watch and shake your head at this colt's brilliance.

Great card at Trentham and the $250,000 Berkett Telegraph is worth the price of entry itself. Sacred Star (No1, R8) will start favourite and justifiably given he is actually well off in the weights despite his 59kg topweight. He won this by four lengths a year ago under 57kg, so he will get every opportunity. The best each-way in the race is Natuzzi (No5), who impressed winning at Te Rapa two back and again third when things didn't go his way in the Railway at Ellerslie.

From a mid-field barrier he should get a desired smother until he is asked to produce his determined finish. If something went amiss with the favourite he looks the perfect each-way at $8 on fixed odds.

Rasa Lila (No9, R4) looks a great bet early on the Trentham card. She did well to get very close to the hugely talented Stolen Dance at Te Rapa a couple of starts back under 57kg and found 1600m too short and the slow track against her behind Hasselhoof at Ellerslie last time out. The step to 2100m is the key to her chances this time. Show The World (No6) seems to mix his form somewhat, but he is coming off a handy performance in the City Of Auckland Cup.

Don't discard Victor Hugo (No5, R7) because of his failure at Ellerslie on January 1 - the wet track was right against him. The three straight wins leading into that race were very potent. Savaria (No6) is a progressive mare.

At Tauranga, betting on essentially inexperienced 2-year-olds can be tricky, but Nova Swiss (No1, R1) was so stylish in his winning debut at Ruakaka it's difficult to accept he won't continue on with that form. Pearson Square (No3) has good trials form.

Amalfi (No7, R2) looked good winning a recent barrier trial and he should be ready to produce a big first-up effort. The barrier draw is ugly, but if Michael McNab can find him a decent passage he should be right in it. Precision Miss (No9) should be in it.

Gustavo (No2, R3) has form in good fields and is racing at his pet 1400m distance from an inside barrier. There are some useful chances here, including Miss Foxwood (No5), but Gustavo looks a great each-way hope.

Blue Flag (No9, R4) failed on a slow track at Ellerslie last start, but he is a stayer on the way through and deserves another chance on a decent surface. Guess What (No2) can always throw in a beaut.

Race 6 is a great little field. Thee Auld Floozie (No5), Sound Proposition (No4) and Saavoya (No2) will provide a great contest and don't be surprised if Matimba (No1) despite an average looking formline, gets some of it. Sound Proposition is the big improver from his first-up Ellerslie effort.

Visible (No9, R8) has upside and from an inside barrier is going to take beating.

In the last Sultan Of Swing (No7, R9) looks one of the bets of the day.

Paul Richards is looking for better results as a trainer in today's Telegraph than he had as a jockey.

"I had several rides in the race and fourth was the best I could do," he said yesterday as he put the final touches on today's live chance Natuzzi. "Can't say I've ever been unlucky in the big race," says Richards as he hopes for the same good fortunes for Natuzzi, whose usual style is to finish powerfully from mid-field or beyond.

Johno Benner is similarly hoping for late luck in the Telegraph for his fresh-up sprinter Vespa. "One thing I'm delighted about is that he's drawn in the middle of the field," said Benner. "There is speed inside him and outside him and that means he should be able to get a nice smother with cover somewhere in mid-field." Benner said he is delighted with the condition of Vespa, who has a good record when in a fresh state.

"Couldn't be happier with him, he'll run a race."

Sacred Star remains the favourite, yesterday shortening in to $3.20 from $3.60.

- NZ Herald

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