The Auckland Racing Club's experiment with twilight Saturday racing would have worked on at least one level had yesterday's rain been more extensive.
It would have provided a significant amount of extra time for the Ellerslie surface to recover. As it stood late yesterday the 5.5mm that fell to 2pm was just what the ARC was looking for and a couple more showers were expected in advance of improving weather.
"The rain took the track back up to a Good (3), which was what we were looking for," said the club's racing manager Craig Baker. "If it got to 7 or 8mm that would be perfect."
Good betting races today. Symphonic (No 7, R1) is a good way to start the day, even though she is stepping up to a middle distance for the first time, which can be difficult for some horses.
She has finished strongly over 1400m and 1600m in recent starts and if she cops a decent passage from what is a difficult barrier at the 2100m she should be right in the party.
Clarify (No 2) is dropping back in class from a close second last start, but pays the penalty with a 4.5kg rise in weight.
Balancing that is there is not a great deal of scale in the weights here and he rates a chance from an ideal barrier.
Killarney (No 4, R2) will not be at fancy odds, but it's difficult to make a case against him. He looks a 4-year-old of real promise after just two starts. He bolted in on debut than did a couple of things wrong when second to the smart Lizzie L'Amour at his only other run. He has drawn perfectly.
The barrier draws make this race difficult with Sleeping Beauty (No 9) and Auctioneer (No 18) out wide at the start.
Race three is tricky. There are five or six you can make a strong case for, including stablemates Ruud Not To (No 14), Barbaric (No 1) and Rocanto (No 3). Barbaric will benefit from a 4kg allowance, but he is a better horse left-handed and the other pair make more appeal.
Chachar (No 10) is a mare on the way through, Go Nicholas (No 9) similar and Mr Knowitall (No 4) is capable of topping them all off. The entire field will be at good odds, so sort one out and back it both ways.
Lizzie L'Amour (No 3, R4) is smart and may have it in her to overcome a tough barrier. She looks like going on to the headlines. Sacred Empire (No 9) is stepping up in class but looks capable of handling this level.
Quintessentially (No 14) is coming off a lengthy break but is unbeaten in two starts and deserves consideration. Two real talents face off in race five: Hiflyer (No 8) and Hollywood Lass (No 16).
Hiflyer was backed and beaten when resuming at Te Rapa, but he had to give them a big start and was just beaten, so he should do even better this time. Hollywood Lass has won two of her only four starts and looked good winning here last time. The difference might be that Hollywood Lass will be in the first three and out of trouble and Hiflyer will be giving her a start, but it's hard to go past the latter.
The Trevor Eagle Memorial puts pressure on the emerging 3-year-olds and barrier draws might be critical. That puts Barcelo (No 1, R6) in the frame, but Secret Sash (No 3) has the rails, which he should be able to use.
Top Prospect (No 2) is not so well drawn, but has talent.
Race seven is confusing, Each way on Emily Monk (No 10) might be best with a saver on Trojan Warrior (No 4).