Kawi was favourite for the $200,000 Bonecrusher Stakes when it was due to be run at Ellerslie last Saturday, but you wouldn't have backed him with stolen money.
The big winner would have surprised even trainer Allan Sharrock if he'd been able to plough through a heavy 11 track and win.
Ellerslie late this afternoon will be different. Yes, there will be some give in the footing, but it should suit at least a reasonable percentage of horses that prefer a firm surface.
Kawi (R5,No1) is one of those. He has won seven of his 11 starts on dead tracks, but interestingly, the times for each of them has never been over standard time (1.12, 1.24, 1.36). They probably won't stray far from those types of times today so Kawi at $2.70 is at his right price, given his exceptional weight-for-age record.
Von Tunzelman (No7) is a fascinating runner. He is making a huge leap in class to run here, especially carrying a big weight for him under the weight-for-age scale. Roger James does not take risks with horses so if he's prepared to run he's prepared to see the big grey pluck a decent part of this stake. With the scratching of Volkstok'n'barrell yesterday, Maygrove (No5) comes into consideration for a trifecta or first4 slot. He takes little racing to get to his prime form and could sneak into this. Authentic Paddy (No4) will live up to his name, especially on the eve of St Patrick's Day.
Ja Ja Binks (No5, R1) is another you didn't want to be on had the meeting gone ahead last Saturday, simply because you didn't know how the impressive type would handle the wet. Still unsure if the dead track will suit, but there is less risk.
Mr Knowitall (No3) is not easy to catch, but he's good enough to win this with one of his A game runs.
The group two Westbury Classic will be a great contest.
This column has been a great fan of Serious Satire (No6, R3). She has been placed only since her excellent win here at Ellerslie, but look for an improvement here with give in the track. Rising Shot (No7) is still on her way to the top and this could be a step up the ladder. Mime (No4) is the value. She is a classy type in any company. Thee Auld Floozie (No1) comes in badly at the weights, but is tough when there is give in the footing.
The $200,000 Sistema Stakes for the juveniles is a difficult contest to predict. The better footing from the weekend will suit Hasahalo (No7, R4). Sydney jockey Blake Shinn, who rode Hasahalo into second in the Karaka Million, will this time be aboard Summer Passage (No11). The combination has only to run up to the last-start Matamata form to be difficult to handle.
Melody Belle (No6) took the Million and won't mind the cut in the track and Star Treasure (No4) is a big long strider who can really power home.
As stated elsewhere on this page our tips for the $500,000 Auckland Cup are Jacksstar (No4, R6), Five To Midnight (No7) and Mister Impatience (No2).
The last, Race 7, is not an easy prospect. Last start winner Comin'through (No6) is stepping up, but lacks nothing in terms of fight, Symphonic (No10) is dropping back from a tougher race and rates highly, as does El Disparo (No5).
Don't forget the free entry at Ellerslie today.