Lucky Guineas hopeful has a bombproof temperament
Barrier draws can cost you races and raise blood pressure.
It's likely trainer Lisa Latta let go a couple of strong words on Wednesday when her in-form colt Lincoln Blue drew a horror No 17 gate in tomorrow's $100,000 Darci Brahma Waikato Guineas.
But she wasn't owning up to it and was completely over it when we talked to her yesterday. "It is what it is, you can't change it, you just have to deal with it."
Latta knows she still holds at least one trump card as Lincoln Blue, from the outside barrier at Te Rapa's tricky 2000m start, takes on the likes of 5-from-9 Hall Of Fame, Windspelle and Highlad - his bombproof temperament.
"He's a push-button colt, you can pretty much do anything you like with him in a race and he'll come back to you."
Latta is confident that if Lincoln Blue is asked to sprint the first 200 to get forward and over near the rail - and you can't expect her to declare what tactics will be employed - the Savabeel colt will relax when asked to.
Whatever the scenario, Lincoln Blue's rider Masa Tanaka will be watching another Savabeel colt, Hall Of Fame. When Hall Of Fame won the 1600m Levin Classic at Trentham last start, Lincoln Blue was 3.8 lengths behind in fourth place, but that was not representative.
Lincoln Blue was held up behind the two leaders on the home bend while at the same time Hall Of Fame was quickly sprinting around the leaders and putting in his winning challenge.
Coming off a 2100m win at Ellerslie at his previous start, Lincoln Blue was a touch flat footed when the sprint came on, particularly after having his momentum impeded. This race could well be decided in the first 300m. Hall Of Fame is all class, but he has a fair bit of grit as well, as he showed when he won at Trentham after a tight, three-way fight from the 220m.
Highlad is the interesting runner. Some of these have no experience of running past 1600m, or very little, where Highlad finished a creditable eighth in the 2500m Victoria Derby on October 29 and there is no tougher staying test for a 3-year-old than that.
He looked very fresh and underdone when having his first start since then over 1600m at Tauranga recently and his third behind talented Hiflyer was a good, even effort to have him fit for this race. From the No1 barrier he will get a nice trip under Matt Cameron.
There is a saying in Australia that horses that get back and run on late into minor placings will 'still be running on at the end of a three-day bike race'. Windspelle has been in danger of falling into the group, but he steps this time into a race beyond 1600m.
He was making ground strongly from last into fifth place behind Hall Of Fame at Trentham and the step to 2000m will suit him better than most. A very interesting race.
Better ringcraft: Savapak, Race 2, Te Rapa. Did a couple of things a little wrong on debut at Rotorua and still managed a good second.This is a winnable maiden race for her.
Easier here: Clarify, Race 3, Te Rapa. Faded after leading around the home turn in the Wellington Cup. Drops back to R75 and although the 59.5kg looks tough on paper, don't forget he won here with 59kg three starts back.
Each way value: Red Tsunami, R6, Te Rapa. A touch underrated and likes this track. Respect.