Racing: Punters will have to wait

By Mike Dillon

Astara could be a sound prospect at Ellerslie tomorrow.Picture / Trish Dunell
Astara could be a sound prospect at Ellerslie tomorrow.Picture / Trish Dunell

With early favourite Bella Gioia likely to head instead to Monday's $100,000 Sarten Memorial, tomorrow's Dunstan Feeds Soliloquy Stakes at Ellerslie will change face.

Other Soliloquy acceptors also engaged at Te Rapa on Monday are well fancied Mystery Show and Astara.

"She's [Bella Gioia] drawn the carpark in both races [No 14], but the Ellerslie race would be the more difficult because she'd have to drop back and with the rail out 12m, her chance to catch the leaders is minimised," said trainer Shaune Ritchie.

"She would have to have a hard race and we don't want to risk that heading to Riccarton [1000 Guineas]."

The Sarten is for male and female 3-year-olds and has drawn a hot field.

"Mongolian Falcon went straight to the front [at Hastings] and set up a good pace so why wouldn't he do the same again, which would open the field up and allow a chance for Bella Gioia to get in closer to the rail?"

If a decision to race tomorrow is made around Mystery Show she could start favourite. She has natural speed, but as an experiment she was ridden from the back last start at Te Rapa and she did the job brilliantly, sweeping past the field in the home straight.

With the rail being out 12m this time that option would be more difficult, but connections now know it is an option if they need it.

Astara looked outstanding winning the 1600m Champagne Stakes at Ellerslie in late autumn, beating Eleonora.

She needed her first-up 1200m run in a strong field on her home track at Ruakaka and did better at 1400m at the most recent meeting on that track, finishing on late for fourth.

She should now be properly fit and if Ellerslie proves to be her weekend assignment, she rates highly.

Veearma made a very stylish winning debut here a month ago, overcoming a few difficulties. She steps up in class for this, but it could end up a depleted field and she should handle the conditions, although her best form is likely to be on decent footing.

- NZ Herald

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