The winning post is thoroughbred racing's most important piece of equipment, but often a set of blinkers can run a close second.

There is a high percentage chance we will see that around Mongolian Wolf in tomorrow's $50,000 Courtesy Ford Ryder Stakes at Otaki.

The $200,000 Ready To Run purchase from Regal Farm won on debut carrying a stack of punters' money, but raced like a boofhead with little concentration.

The Murray Baker/Andrew Forsman stable has applied the blinkers in an effort to sharpen that focus and Forsman says what he has seen of the colt in training when wearing the headgear has been successful.

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"We would have loved to have left it later to apply the blinkers, but this is a stakes race and he couldn't win it if he raced like he did in his first start, so we had no choice.
"He has improved in his work wearing them and we are looking for that same result this time."

The other smaller factor is Mongolian Wolf is staying bred, being by Pluck from Australian mare Oomaroo and the blinkers are clearly necessary to have him as sharp as possible for 1200m.

"He will definitely be a better horse when he gets to 1600m to 2000m as a 3-year-old," says Forsman. Mongolian Wolf will be ridden by Masa Tanaka and the No 7 barrier draw should be important to keep him away from the inside running rail on a very testing track late in the day.

"He's a magnificent looking horse. If he ever goes to stud he will sell himself."

Lisa Latta has the similarly unbeaten Manhattan Street engaged. Like Mongolian Wolf he is a strong finisher, who looks as though he will be better suited by distances longer than 1200m, but his strength will be important at the end of this race.

The best of the dangers look to be Cortado, Impulsive Habit and Bruce Arthur. Impulsive Habit produced an impressive debut to finish second to a smart sort in Bella Gioia at Te Rapa and on that run rates highly.

Cortado finished third in that race and looked similarly stylish after coming from a wide gate. She is very game in a tight battle and that is probably going to be very important.
Bruce Arthur has produced a couple of nice minor placings from two starts and rates highly, but there could be a little doubt about his ability in the heavy track conditions.

Further north, Celebrity Miss might prove horses for courses can have exceptions in tomorrow's $50,000 Woods Contracting Taumarunui Cup at Rotorua.

The talented stayer started one of the favourites in the Rotorua Cup a few starts back, but beat only one home. History tells us some horses simply do not handle the unique Arawa Park surface, but trainer Lee Somervell told stewards he felt that was not the case and he believed the reason for the failure was that Celebrity Miss was showing signs of coming into season.

Tomorrow's big race could put the truth into that statement.

After Rotorua, Celebrity Miss ran an excellent second in the Cornwall at Ellerslie and last start finished out of a place dropping back to 1600m, but it was not the worst effort and she should be suited by this distance. The 60kg is plenty of weight for a mare, but she has shown she has a touch more class than most.

Pump Up The Volume has shown he can handle Rotorua well and looks the danger. He is strong at the end of a tough contest and that is going to be important.
Reka is a dog-fighter and will be similarly suited.


Weekend pointers
Rotorua specialist: Wanganui trainer Kevin Myers must be respected during winter. He loves winning here and he's got plenty of chances.

Give another chance: Acrylic, R3, Rotorua: Improving type who was beaten last start after a good-quality placing. Don't drop him yet.

Tough ask, but up to it: Ivy's Gold, R7, Avondale: First start at 2100m, but has a touch of ability.