At the odds, Stolen Dance at Trentham has to be the best investment at the TAB today.
Okay, no bet is an investment, but at the $1.85 a place to go with the $4.60 win yesterday it almost is an investment because the high-class mare would have to fall over to miss the 1-2-3 so, in reality you get your money back, less a round of drinks.
If ever a race is ideal for a horse, the Thorndon Mile is for Stolen Dance (No 5, R8). She comes in with the same 55kg she had when a close second to Kawi in the race a year ago and there is no Kawi to worry about this time.
This is her grand final whereas Volkstok'n'barrell (No 1) has his final in the 2000m Herbie Dyke at Te Rapa next start. On that basis alone Stolen Dance should beat her equal favourite.
Andrew Campbell is a talented trainer, so Rene (No 11, R4) would not be lining up today if affected by what looked a tough run under Noel Callow here a week ago. He got back last in a strong field and made ground late into fourth in a fast-run 1200m.
He drops back to maidens and steps to 1600m - that is a big distance step in seven days, but Campbell knows what he's about. So does rider Jason Waddell.
Volks Lightning (No 3, R3) did not have to be asked for everything to win in open class at Ellerslie last start. She drops back to R85 class, but to be fair this is a strong as her last start opposition.
She goes from 54.5kg to 59kg, but is a big, strong mare and should cope well with the weight. She should get the ideal suck along from the No 1 barrier.
Rocanto (No 1) has been freshened and is a hope, even with 60kg topweight.
Devise (No 2, R6) won't have it all her own way in the Wellfield Desert Gold Stakes, but back to left-handed racing she will give a sight. She was unbalanced going the other way around in the Eight Carat Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day, but after losing her spot on the home turn, she came back late and was not far from Volpe Veloce in fourth.
She has had a nice freshen and looks a great each-way hope. You can make a winning case for at least six or seven others in what should be a very interesting race. Follow the form out of this.
Johnny Lincoln (No 1, R9) has been narrowly topped off here in his past two starts and deserves this. Lisa Latta can keep her horses in the right mode between starts and even his relatively hard run last week has probably not dented his chances.
At Pukekohe today, the 2-year-old event, R3, will be fascinating. Two debut runners Aim Smart (No 3) and Summer Passage (No 5) have been stunning at the trials.
We have gone for Aim Smart, possibly only because he has drawn inside the O'Sullivan/Scott-trained Summer Passage. Aim Smart has the Tony Pike polish for his debut.
Raceday experience can count for a lot in these races and Excelleration (No 7) and Summer Monsoon (No 1) have won their past starts. Don't miss this.
Saracino (No 5, R4) might be just too classy and too fast for the open sprinters in what is his raceday resumption since Melbourne in the spring. He ran fast time in his barrier trial win a couple of weeks back and this race looks well within his scope.
Our tips for the Karaka Million tomorrow night are: Padraig (No 2, R5) 1, Felton Road (No 3) 2, Gift Of Power (No 7) 3, and Hasahalo (No 8) 4.
As always this will be a pressure race and weighing up the entire scenario, it is probably going to suit a horse from at least the middle of the field finishing very hard. Padraig is just that type of juvenile as we saw at Trentham two weeks ago. Difficult race and this is possibly the best overall Million field we've seen.
There will be no shortage of speed in the 1200m special conditions opener. Tony Pike has a great hand with last-start winners Fast And Furious (No 4, R1) and Akoya (No 9). Thames debut winner Arctic Storm (No 3) is another speed machine and it could be run that hard a horse coming home might again be difficult to handle. Endean Express (No 7) looked that type putting up a huge effort at Rotorua last time.
Sacred Elixir (No 1, R3) is all class. He has not raced or trialled since finishing second in the Victoria Derby, but appeals as a fresh horse and the $250,000 NZB Insurance Karaka Mile provides him with a great chance. Unbeaten filly Volpe Veloce (No 9) is there to test him with her admirable determination, but his class may prevail. Romancer (No 6) will race better this time.
Night's Watch (No 12, R4) did a few things wrong at just his second start last time and did well to wind up fourth.
He has a perfect barrier this time at No 6 and with that last experience behind him he should do a lot better. Charles Road (No 11) is good.
A couple of Tavistocks in Travimyfriend (No 1, R6) and Tavidream (No 9) will provide the highly-regarded Sacred Rhythm (No 15) opposition in the last race.
Even allowing he had a peach of a trip, Travimyfriend was brave in winning at Wellington last week.