Racing: Rain changes Ellerslie odds

By Mike Dillon

Highlad (outer) is two from two in slow footing and will appreciate the easing track in the Avondale Guineas. Photo / Race Images
Highlad (outer) is two from two in slow footing and will appreciate the easing track in the Avondale Guineas. Photo / Race Images

There seems little doubt the Ellerslie footing will be affected for tomorrow's huge $100,000 Avondale Cup and $100,000 Avondale Guineas.

"There is little chance of it being anything but slow," said Auckland Racing Club racing manager Craig Baker.

On what is certain to be a rain-affected track, tomorrow's $100,000 Avondale Guineas may not be the ideal lead-up to the $1 million Vodafone Derby we had been hoping for. Not unless they also run the Derby on a wet track.

We will all remember when both races were run in wet conditions and Jimmy Choux, who revelled in the mud, won both without being tested.

It's doubtful we are going to see any of the runners either handling the conditions or being as dominant as was Jimmy Choux. The longtime favourite for tomorrow's Guineas, Sacred Elixir, has had one start in the slow conditions for a win, but is that relative? Donna Logan believes their stable rep Wyndspelle would definitely prefer a decent track and Camino Rocoso is a totally unknown factor in the wet.

One possible guide is that a couple of sons and daughters of his sire Shocking have not looked at their best when it rains.

One who will appreciate the footing is Camino Rocoso's stablemate Highlad. Co-trainer Murray Baker declared last week the talented 3-year-old was looking for an easing of the tracks. He is two from two in slow footing. Another of the Baker/Forsman runners, Mongolian Wolf, has won in heavy ground. Romancer is a likely sort and particularly here as he makes his first start beyond 1600m, but he also is a question mark in the wet. Summation here - take plenty of note, but in terms of the Derby offer a forgive for anything that looks as though it is not handling conditions.

When Donna Logan won the City Of Auckland Cup with European import St Jean she was delighted, but refused to dwell on the moment.

"And he'll win the Avondale Cup as well," said the Ruakaka conditioner, who trains in partnership with Chris Gibbs. Logan was holding that thought until the early hours of yesterday morning.

Then it rained and was forecast to continue to do so.

"I'm worried that 7-year-old stallions look after themselves if the ground gets difficult." Logan says she is more worried about track conditions than the 59kg. "I don't think the weight will stop him."

There is a fair amount of evenness over the $100,000 Avondale Cup field when weights are taken into account. Chenille, Jacksstar, Five To Midnight, Hushed are all in fine form and Nymph Monte and Sampson can turn around their latest efforts.

Five to Midnight finished less than half a length from St Jean in the City Of Auckland Cup and meets the topweight 3kg better off here.

That puts the Lisa Latta runner in with a great chance, especially with his added Ellerslie experience. Chenille is a big improver and her Ellerslie win last start over stablemate Single Shot was no fluke.

The No15 barrier is a bit of a concern. Jacksstar could easily have won the Wellington Cup last start. He drops from the 58kg he carried in that to 54.5kg and will be super competitive here.

Punting pointers

Blinkers first time on raceday: Hollywood Lass, R2 Ellerslie. Classy sprinter that has been freshened. Went well at the trials with the blinkers on and can go close despite the strong line-up.

Class: Eleonora, R4 Ellerslie. Staying mare resuming and 1500m might be about right for her. Looked good winning at the barrier trials.

Will like it wet: Megablast, R7, Ellerslie. Will be something of the forgotten horse in the Avondale Cup, but will appreciate the rain.

- NZ Herald

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