If you watch the Tamworth replay of Ameridon winning enough money to get him into tomorrow night's $1m Karaka Million at Ellerslie you may not be impressed.
However, Queensland trainer Liam Birchley says not to take too much notice of that.
Coming from a two-time winner of New Zealand's richest race, that might be useful advice, even though our TAB bookmakers have posted the Brisbane youngster as a $15 chance.
The replay shows Ameridon, at $1.60, having to fight hard to beat a field that was hardly full of stars.
"To be honest, I was worried the 1000m that day would be too short for him," says Birchley. "But the only other option [to win sufficient money to start here] was to take on Houtzen [Magic Millions 2YO winner] in her lead-up, and that didn't have a lot of appeal."
Birchley believes the 1200m on a bigger track like Ellerslie and with the application of blinkers will see a different horse. "The trip over wasn't the smoothest. There were a lot of delays and we got here at 3.30pm after leaving home at 3.30am. Fortunately, he's a good-natured colt and he has got over it well. He should present well on Sunday."
Ameridon will start from gate No 12 of the 14 runners. "We haven't yet done the form well enough to decide whether to go back or go forward from that barrier.
"You have to know before the gates open or you get left three or four wide and that's the end of it."
KARAKA MILLION 7.16
t (7) 56.5M D Plessis
•2 31Padraig d (12) 56.5H Bowman
•3 11Felton Road td (1) 56.5L Innes
•4 41Ameridon (13) 56.5R Thompson
•5 224. Oscar Eight b (15) 56.5M McNab
•6 126Waldorf (5) 56.5J Waddell
•7 1112Gift Of Power m (2) 54.5C Grylls
•8 721Hasahalo td (10) 54.5B Shinn
•9 14Princess Rihanna (4) 54.5C Williams
•10 15Dijon Bleu (9) 54.5K McCulloch
•11 138Melody Belle (3) 54.5O Bosson
•12 187Global Thinking (8) 54.5M Cameron
•13 24Te Amo (11) 54.5J Ford
•14 24Sophie's Choice b (14) 54.5D Johnson
•15 25Iffragal (6) (emg) 54.5R Hutchings
One for whom an early decision has been made is one of the favourites Padraig, out at gate No 11. "You don't have to be a scientist to know we will be riding him quietly," said trainer Brendon Hawtin. Sydney jockey Hugh Bowman has been engaged for Padraig, a stylish third on debut at Ellerslie then a storming winner at Trentham two weeks ago.
A win would be an enormous result for Sir Patrick Hogan and his Cambridge Stud. First-season sire Power has Padraig and Hogan's own Gift Of Power in the Million and on the eve of the Karaka sale could you possibly get a better advertisement?
Hawtin is delighted with Padraig since Trentham. "I really believe he's gone to the next level and, let's be honest, he will have needed to
He's a very fit horse with ability and has a top rider. What will be, will be."
Hugh Bowman's ability to judge pace and know when to mount his finishing run is not bettered by many.
The $3.80 favourite is unbeaten Felton Road, who has overcome bad barriers in his two wins. This time he has drawn one, outstanding for a brilliant beginner, not quite so good for a horse that comes out fairly and might get buried back on the rails.
"He can be a bit tardy for the first 100m, but then he gets into his gears," says trainer Tony Pike. "The rails is a lot better than being out wide where he's been in his two starts so far. He will probably be a couple of spots back and that will be ideal."
Felton Road had a comfortable hitout at the Ellerslie course proper gallops on Tuesday, yet another chance to look around Ellerslie, which is advantageous for youngsters.
Gift Of Power was unbeaten in three starts before being downed by an extraordinary performance from Hasahalo at Ellerslie on January 1.
She has plenty of natural speed and can be relied upon to take advantage of her No 2 barrier. Stephen McKee, who produced last year's winner, will saddle last-start winners Hasahalo and Star Treasure.
On Thursday, amid what TAB bookmakers describe has hectic betting, $5000 was a single bet on Hasahalo. "Felton Road and Padraig have also been very well backed," said bookmaker Thad Taylor.
The second Australian-trained runner $35 chance Te Amo, was a decent second on debut at Warwick Farm, but subsequently well beaten in the only other run at Canterbury.
Market: $3.80 Felton Road, $5.50 Hasahalo, $6 Padraig, Gift Of Power; $8.50 Star Treasure, $10 Princess Rihanna, $15 Ameridon, $23 Dijon Bleu, $35 Oscar Eight, Melody Belle, Te Amo, Sophie's Choice; $51 Waldorf, Iffragal; $126 Global Thinking.
History of the million-dollar race
What history tells us as we approach the 10th running.
• Three out of the nine winners have jumped from barrier No 1, one from barrier No 2 and one from barrier No 4. Therefore, importantly, 55.55 per cent of winners have jumped from inside barrier No 5.
• Only two winners have jumped from outside barrier No 9.
• Only two of the nine winners have been favourites: Ruud Awakening in 2013 and Vespa the following year.
• The highest-priced winner was Fort Lincoln in 2011 who paid $42.30.
• The lowest-priced winner was Ruud Awakening who returned $1.90.
• The average tote starting price for all winners is $12.77.
• Three out of the nine winners have been Australian trained.
• Five out of the nine winners have been ridden by Australian-based jockeys.
• Craig Williams is the only jockey to have won the race more than once. He rides the well-drawn Princess Rihana.
• 126 horses have competed in the Karaka Million since its inception in 2008. Of the 126, 53 have been fillies (42%). From those fillies, only two have been successful, Sister Havana, 2010, and Ruud Awakening in 2013.