Racing: Naughty Knuckles could build bank in Ellerslie opener

By Mike Dillon

Fire Jet beat the older horses at Ellerslie last week and meets his own age in race 3 today. Photo / Trish Dunell
Fire Jet beat the older horses at Ellerslie last week and meets his own age in race 3 today. Photo / Trish Dunell

Fit horses for Ellerslie today. The track will be holding and sticky and horses at the top of their form make the most appeal.

Naughty Knuckles in Race 1 is one of those. He has impressed this preparation and his Ellerslie win two back was terrific. The subsequent narrow second behind talented Francome at Te Rapa was no less stylish and he comes into this race nicely with a 3kg claim via apprentice Alyssa Schwerin, who now knows the horse very well.

Three-year-old Thunder Down Under has had a brief freshener since his fifth to the recently sold The Hassler in the Valachi Downs Championship Stakes on this track.

He should have finished at least second that day - rider Jonathan Parkes eased him up when attendants were waving horses down to avoid Danielle Johnson lying on the track just beyond the winning post.

He can get back in running and the small field should suit.

Fascination Street (No3, R5) is a tough, quality mare who should be very competitive this afternoon. Forget she went around when beaten in the Rotorua Stakes last start, very few horses managed the conditions that day. The 57kg she will carry with no allowance is about as much as she could cope with in testing footing, but her grit will take her into the call.

Inside barriers from the middle of the programme are probably not going to be the place to be, but Summer's Day (No6) is in the right sort of form to feature. She is up in class, but looks capable of managing that in her current state.

Richie McHorse (No2, R2) was scratched last week and we had to wait until this morning to discover whether he will take his place. He is potentially the best horse racing at Ellerslie today, but a tough, holding surface is probably not what he is looking for. He would beat these on a track that suits.

Night Voyage (No2) has been super impressive. He came from last here to win last time and should still be on the improving cycle and Bao Shan Magic (No6) was impressive winning his only start.

Fire Jet (No1, R3) beat the older horses here last week and meets his own age today. Doni Prastiyou will take 1kg off his 58.5 topweight.

Battle Time (No3) was beaten behind Xtravagant at Te Rapa last start and will find this easier. He has ability.

If you're looking for a nightmare race to pick out today you can't go past the fourth. If Mr Knowitall (No3) is coming back to winning this should be it. He gets a 3kg claim with Zy Nor Azman aboard and comes in with 55kg. Caellum (No1) has no form on paper, but has more class than many of these and comes down 2kg with Ulrika Holmquist doing the steering.

Gesemi (No6, R6) has previously been beaten in holding footing, but her latest form suggests she is a win waiting to happen.

Back her today and if she does not feature back her on a loose, wetter track next time. Topweight and all, Storming The Tower (No1) demands respect. He is a big bloke capable of shouldering a decent weight.

Rocknrolla (No5, R8) is talented in the wet and could spring a surprise here. Unlike a few of the races, there are many chances here and one of them is Annbelinda (No15) who went a beaut for second here last week.

Bee Tee Junior (No1, R9) looks to be in for a tough day with 60kg, but there is very little scale on the race and he is not conceding much to the others when you consider Brendan Hutton takes 1kg off his back.

His fresh-up run was pretty useful. Aston Park (No4) and Doucette (No6) are value runners.

- NZ Herald

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