Palace Rock got everyone excited with her Ellerslie win two starts back.
The classy mare was beaten into second here last time out, but a combination of a dead track and possibly getting level with the leaders a fraction soon exposed her to the driving finish of Snow Secret.
On better footing this time Palace Rock can get the money in Race 4 this afternoon. Plenty of form in the race with Nelson Park and Ryker in the right shape to compete.
The fillies at the bottom of the page, Aramelle (No13, R1) and Sarabande (No12) will be tough to keep out in the opener. You can make a case for both with perhaps Sarabande's better barrier draw coming into calculations. Formulate all multiple bets around the pair.
Snow Secret (No6, R2) hasn't raced since she beat Palace Rock and steps up in distance from 1600m to a staying trip, which will always be her forte. With Brendan Hutton's allowance she will go around with just 52kg on her back. The favourite St Emilion (No1) has to give her 8kg, a difficult task when you'd made the running, which he has done in his last 10 starts. Interesting race despite a small field.
Race 3 is tough. Snowdrop (No9) has an awkward barrier on the outside of the 12 runners, but with an allowance she will go to the barriers with very little weight aboard. That may prove to be the winning of the race if she can cop an economical trip from out wide. She has previously gone well when fresh. Dramatist (No10) is sure to be improved by her first-up race and rates highly in this line-up.
Race 5 is the Champagne Stakes where the juveniles run 1600m for the first time. Astara (No5) gets to the line well in her races as does My Paisann (No1). His winning run from well back in the field at Te Rapa two starts back was stunning. Quantum (No2) looks pretty tough.
Race 6 is another toughie. Stradivarius (No4) was just beaten when resuming and can probably be relied upon to be improved for that. He is pretty classy at best, although a bit of rain would have assisted his chances. Sabotage (No5), Peaky Blinders (No12) and Bamurru (No6) are all better than useful.
The Hassler (No2, R7) was previously thought to be a touch dour, but he came out of the Derby to win over 1600m last start. With that behind him today's 2100m of the Championship Stakes should suit ideally. Grant Cooksley has a problem with Ronchi (No1) from a very wide barrier, but he can be right in this if he gets some luck. Romantic Maid (No13) and Chancery (No6) are winning hopes.
Mabeel's (No4, R8) barrier in the Manco Easter looks ugly, but he's the type than can make his own luck. This is not an easy race to lead and win in, but that's probably going to be the tactics. He's better than a lot of these. Everyone thinks of Sakhee's Soldier (No2) as a 2000m horse these days, but going back to last season don't forget he put together a winning sequence of 1400m, 1600m, 1600m, 1600m and the 1600m of the Rich Hill Stakes in which he ran a lightning 1.34.49 at Ellerslie. He was making fast ground late over 1400m at Te Aroha last start when resuming for a break and should be dead right for this. Snapshot (No9), Soubrettes (No13) and Watch This Space (No3) make the race interesting.
There was a lot to like about the way Hardcase (No6, R9) reeled in the leaders in the home straight to win here last start. It was the effort of a horse about to go through the grades and this step up here might not be beyond him. Captain Lincoln (No1), Flying Ibis (No2) and Naughty Knuckles (No3) for the multiples.