Hollywood Lass is a wonderful example of the stiff opposition all favoured runners face on a magnificently competitive 10-race card on Derby day at Ellerslie.
In terms of fitness Hollywood Lass was a touch vulnerable at Ellerslie last start and she paid the price when run down in the closing strides by well fancied Splurge. The talented Cambridge mare will be fitter for that and will be tough to head in the opening race, but that field is extremely strong. Ja Ja Binks was hugely impressive under Hugh Bowman coming from near last on the home bend to win on this track on Karaka Million night. Julius is very talented.
Special Conditions races almost always offer great betting opportunities because most of the form comes from different races.
Sacred Way (No4, R2) looked stylish in his 1400m debut victory then did not get all breaks over 1500m at Ellerslie last start. He finished strongly and going up an extra 100m is going to suit. He is drawn a good barrier. Tavidream (No2) looked good beating Sacred Way last time and is a huge danger with Miss Dalghar (No8) another strong chance. But she has drawn awkwardly.
The 'off' track may not have suited Fast And Furious (No2, R3) so his second to The Dom was a sound effort. From a nice barrier he should be right in this from the start. Chances everywhere with Crookshanks (No9) and Peaky Blinders (No3) appealing for all multiple bets.
Last preparation Francaletta (No8, R4) looked one of the emerging types of the season. She is the type to go well when fresh, even though her last run was November 19. Worth noting is she has won four of her five starts and has drawn well here. Hiflyer (No6) has super ability. He gets back and will not need to give Francaletta too much start. The Justice League (No3) failed to figure in the Thorndon Mile last start, but this is a different race. Triaction (No9) and Killarney (No12) are worthy opponents in a very strong line-up.
Class act Eleonora (No1, R6) looked good in her second to Gravano when resuming from a break. She is a stayer who will be fitter for that and one who will be much better suited to today's 2100m. Veearma (No5) will need to step up in this field, but she is on an upward swing. Sacred Rhythm (No2) and Dreamcrafter (No4) are talented.
Snowdrop (No11, R8) produced a beaut on the first day of the Christmas meeting here, but failed to back up in the Railway. She has a nice barrier and will give a great sight on the speed from the start. Red Striker (No10) did not have a hugh amount of room in the home straight when close up third on her home track at Matamata last start. She is slightly underrated. Natuzzi (No2) and Saracino (No4) are well capable of winning.
Savile Row (No2, R9) is this column's Derby tip. He might not do everything right in his races, but his overall form is deserving of favouritism. Camino Rocoso (No11) might still be a work in progress, but there is no doubting his enormous ability and he can win this. Forget his Avondale Guineas failure last start. You had to like the way Charles Road (No12) took a little ground off Camino Rocoso last start. Wyndspelle (No3) will need luck from the barrier, but can be in this finish.
The last is a tough race, but Sheridan (No4, R10) threw in his claims when he galloped with Derby hope stablemate Sacred Elixir on Tuesday morning and looked to be going every bit as well as the other horse. That puts him in the frame here if he gets any luck from his outside gate. Lovelight (No15) has ability.