If anyone can work out why Summer's Day belies her name by ploughing beautifully through winter tracks, would they mind telling trainer Tony Pike.
"I have no idea why she's comfortable in the real mud," says Pike as he produces Summer's Day towards tomorrow's $65,000 Powerworx Opunake Cup at New Plymouth.
The classy mare has won her last three, the last two on Heavy 10 and Heavy 11 tracks.
The surprise in that is Cannsea, granddam of Summer's Day, was an out and out 1200m sprinter who in her final raceday appearance won the group one Railway at Ellerslie in 2000, running the 1200m in a reasonably swift 1.9.63.
In winning the Tauranga Classic last start, Summer's Day took a 1.35.74 crawl to cover the 1400m when it rained all the way to produce one of the heaviest tracks this year.
"She's won on all types of footing so it's a bonus she gets through the really heavy stuff," says Pike.
Which is a good pointer for tomorrow, because rain predicted for today and showers suggested for tomorrow means the Taranaki track, already in the clear heavy territory, will be very deep.
"It should be fairly similar to the Tauranga conditions."
Summer's Day carried 57kg at Tauranga and drops to a very attractive 53kg. And, with conditions the way they look like being, her outside barrier late in the day should be perfect.
"She has done remarkably well through these recent races," said Pike. "In fact, her work this week has been right up to her best."
Aid Memoire finished second, two and a half lengths behind Summer's Day, at Tauranga and unless the switch to left-handed racing makes a dramatic difference, it's difficult to make a case that margin can be turned around.
Longchamp has the form on paper. He is an extremely capable galloper, but his recent form, although sound, has been in slightly easier company than the favourite has handled. He looks a must for multiple bettors.
Taurus loves the wet, but as the highest rating horse in the line-up he has clear topweight of 60kg to lump through the mud. With the remainder of the field bar one on 53kg or less, his job will be very tough. It will be a magnificent performance if he wins.
Silhouette Noire won nicely against a useful field at Te Rapa last start. That puts her in the reckoning here.
• Jumper of the year finalist High Forty won't be taking his usual route towards the Grand National Steeplechase this year.
For the past three seasons, High Forty has tackled the feature steeplechase at Timaru as his leadup to the Koral Steeplechase and Grand National at Riccarton, winning in 2013 and last year and running second in 2014.
However, in a bid to manage hefty weights in steeplechases, Wingatui trainers Brian and Shane Anderton have opted to run High Forty in today's Maurice Smith Hurdles (3000m) at Phar Lap Raceway, in preference to the Equine Veterinary Services Steeplechase (4280m).
"We're just trying to look after his weights. He's just at a difficult place in the handicaps," Shane Anderton said. "He's just getting crucified down here at the weights. We put him in a steeplechase at Riccarton and he got 76 and a half kilos. If we happened to win one, who knows what he'd end up with so it just makes sense to run in hurdle races at this time."
Anderton expects High Forty to be competitive at Timaru in what will serve as a pipe-opener for his return to steeplechasing in the NZI Koral Steeples at Riccarton on August 6.
The Andertons will produce five runners at Timaru, maiden So Gallant joined by jumpers High Forty and race rival Gold Leaf and maiden hurdlers Akal and News Flash.
"We've got KC Walters down here at the moment and he's keen to ride the jumpers."
• Might not have been a fluke:
Gold Rush, R2, Ruakaka. The filly won at big odds here on debut, but took the race like a real promising type.
• Deserves one: Annabelinda, R7, Ruakaka. Doesn't always get good luck. Only needs a bit of it.
• Better here: In Flight, R3, Ruakaka. Unplaced last time, but looks well placed this time.
- Additional reporting NZ Racing Desk