Co-trainer Stephen Autridge has searched hard for a negative around Xtravagant in tomorrow's $70,000 Inglis Sales Cambridge Breeders' Stakes at Te Rapa but can't fine one.
TAB bookmakers agree with the Matamata trainer installing the glamour colt a raging $1.85 favourite on Final Field betting with the tightest of the others starting at $10.
"We are very happy with him," said Autridge yesterday. "He's the same weight as when he won the group one at Te Rapa in February, he's drawn well, he likes this track and the race is run at set weights." Xtravagant's bodyweight is relavant because when eased from training after returning from Melbourne he quickly put on 25kg. "That's one of the reasons he's in work now because we couldn't leave him until the spring otherwise he'd have slapped on too much weight.
The set weights is a massive advantage to Xtravagant. As a dual group one-winning colt he is rated at 103, with the next highest rated horse in the race, Battle Time is on 75. On a surface that looks likely to be perfect, Xtravagant's sheer brilliance should be sufficient to have him clear of the opposition.
However, despite the presence of a standout favourite, in terms of depth of talent this is the strongest line-up for this race in decades.
"The last start winners have come out of the woodwork," said Autridge.
They include Hollywood Lass, a 4.8 length debut winner a couple of week back, Battle Time who left maidens stylishly last time out, Let Me Roar, dashing winner of her only two raceday appearances, unbeaten Barnaby and southerner First Serve with a similar record, Untamed Diamond and Koenigsegg One.
It's difficult to weigh up a one-start maiden winner against the experience and sheer class of Xtravagant, but Hollwood Lass has huge potential.
She has plenty of speed, so will be one of those closest to the favourite on the home bend.
Her third in last week's Manco Easter at Ellerslie is more than enough to earn Rasa Lila favouritism for tomorrow's $100,000 Travis Stakes. The impressive finisher came from a long way back in a very fast Easter to be beaten just a head and a short neck. Against her own sex, this looks an easier option for Rasa Lila.
Abide With Me finished only ninth in that Easter Stakes, but she was just 2.4 lengths from the winner and similarly finding the finish well. This race looks to also suit her well.