Racing: Small field could trip Winx up

By Mike Dillon

Sure, classy mare looks home and dry in Caulfield Stakes, but be wary before sending the rent around.
Winx will face only two rivals as she attempts to win her eighth group one race and  12th on end at Caulfield today. Picture / Getty Images
Winx will face only two rivals as she attempts to win her eighth group one race and 12th on end at Caulfield today. Picture / Getty Images

So you think running three horses for a A$600,000 stake is easy.

Wrong. It's just about as difficult as it gets - for the jockeys anyway.

The only more difficult task is a match race. Guess what - in a match race something has to lead and almost always neither wants to be the lamplighter.

If the connections of Winx and Black Hart Bart had the legal option they would offer to top up the A$54,000 stake for third for the He Or She camp in return for making the pace.

That may be the case anyway, but perhaps not, in which case the cat-and-mouse tactics will kick in.

The best horse can get beaten in tiny fields with riders watching each other too intently. Which might explain the odds offered by the TAB: Winx $1.20 with Black Hart Bart only $4.60 when you might have expected $6 to $8 against a mare generally regarded as unbeatable.

Fortunately for the Winx camp on the mare's back, as usual, will be Hugh Bowman, one if the shrewdest riders anywhere.

Not that Black Hart Bart's jockey Brad Rawiller is a pushover.

Don't miss this race, it's going to be interesting, but Winx would need exceptional bad luck to be beaten.

There will be more than one or two trainers disappointed they didn't keep their fingers closer to the pulse to take advantage of the A$27,000 for fourth. With stakes paid back to eighth, a total of A$90,000 will not be required to be paid.

What a racecard. The and other two features, the A$500,000 Caulfield 1000 Guineas and the A$1 million Caulfield Guineas create a test match atmosphere, Australia V New Zealand.

Sacred Elixir can provide us with the Caulfield Guineas and co-trainer Murray Baker is confident of a big showing from La Luna Rossa against the fillies in the 1000 Guineas.

In two very good betting races, Sacred Elixir is at $5 and La Luna Rossa at $11, which makes her an attractive each-way prospect.

With the scratching of Matamata races today, punters will be taking a keener interest than usual at Hawera in order to build a bank for the feature events at Caulfield.

Just as we will be depending on the Baker/Forsman team to show up across the Ditch you can garner some funds by backing the stable in the Breeders Stakes, where they will line up Bonniegirl (No 7, R7) and Honey Rider (No 15). Both have to step up in class, but they look capable of that.

Pacorus (No 4, R6) is the coming stayer in the north. He fair bolted in at Ellerslie last start and this race looks within his capability.

Maygrove (No 1) has a big weight, but has has class as well.

Temple Tiger (No 1, R4) was well beaten at Taupo when resuming, but he should be improved for that.

And, speaking of Baker/Forsman, there is no reason why they can't win the last at Caulfield today with Turn Me Loose (No 2, R10). He has looked very keen and forward in his barrier trial and Te Rapa exhibition gallop and for a change he has drawn a decent barrier in two.

A Hall of Fame trainer involved in the famous match-race between Better Loosen Up and Let's Elope at Caulfield is hoping to spoil the party for the two favourites in the three-horse Caulfield Stakes today.

While the event isn't quite the same as when Let's Elope defeated Better Loosen Up in 1992, the 2000m weight-for-age race pits two of Australia's best-performed horses against each other for the first time.

Champion mare Winx is the $1.18 favourite to win her 12th-straight race and eighth at group one level and will be up against Black Heart Bart ($4.40), who has won two group one races already in Melbourne this spring.

David Hayes, who now trains in partnership with his son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig, has the outsider of the field in He Or She at $26.

"I'm hoping it is a match-race and I gate crash it," Hayes said.

Hayes had champion Better Loosen Up in the match-race with Let's Elope and said it was an exciting encounter.

"He was just left in front and he was not a horse that leads," Hayes said.

"He was coming back from a tendon injury so it wasn't the real Better Loosen Up, but he still made a great race of it."

Hayes had been looking to run He Or She in the Cranbourne Cup tomorrow, but decided to instead change tack to the Caulfield Stakes against the two stars with A$360,000 for first, A$108,000 for second and A$54,000 for third.

"It's a A$54,000 gallop," Hayes said. "We're going to sit back behind them, let the race unfold and try to pick them up late.

"He's run second in two group ones at his past two starts and he's probably getting to his pet distance.

"They're obviously both very hard to beat, but Black Heart Bart is probably not famous for 2000m and like Kingston Town, Winx has never raced at Caulfield before.

"He couldn't win there [at his first start at Caulfield], so she might hate it. It's hard to see her hating it in a three-horse race though, isn't it? I've got a feeling He Or She might split them."

Hayes says small fields often spring upsets. "And when you've got an outsider that's looking for 2000m and has got group one form in his past two starts, he's not really an outsider, is he?"

- additional reporting, AAP

- NZ Herald

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