On a card of fascinating racing in Hawke's Bay, this will be one of the best.
Belle Du Nord has one of the toughest jobs a smart racehorse can face in a major race - a wide barrier, a tendency to drop back early and with the horse to beat a natural speedster, capable of putting a break on the field at any stage of a race.
But don't totally rule Belle Du Nord out of the $70,000 Hawke's Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings this afternoon.
This column is one of Florence Jean's greatest fans, and that, of course, is the filly we mentioned who will set a blistering pace. Two things might happen - Jason Waddell has drawn wide at No11 on Belle Du Nord, but Florence Jean is one barrier outside him and he might take the chance of persuading his filly to follow Florence Jean across the face of the field from the jump. That might be against Belle Du Nord's natural pattern, but it would eliminate some of the pain late in the race if it worked.
The second issue is that as smart as she is, Florence Jean could find this track a lot more difficult to lead on than Ruakaka. Especially if the inside cuts up from the previous six races today. And that will depend on what official reading the footing is given this morning.
On a card of fascinating racing, this is one of the best. The best undercard to the Windsor Plate.
Conditions will definitely decide the big one, the $200,000 Windsor Park Plate. The surface is almost guaranteed to be better than the very slow conditions on the first day of the carnival, which helped beat well-fancied Kawi and Volpe Veloce. That pair, along with Gingernuts and Volkstok'n'barrell will be best on a decent track reading with Gingernuts standing out alone if its close to wet.
Gingernuts can win and probably will if there was a little more rain last night. His first-up fifth in the 1400m feature on opening day was a beaut given he was flattened on the home bend and he can handle any conditions.
Stablemates Sacred Empire (No8, R2) and Sacred Rebel (No6, R3) are big chances in their respective races. Sacred Empire is the big improver from his first-up run and Sacred Rebel didn't fire the first day, but expect better here. Mighty Solomon (No3, R4) could be a value each-way bet. He is second up from a break and has several times gone well in the early stages of a preparation. He is well up to this level and at $7 deserves a look.
Jeff Lynds is an ace at getting them ready to resume and Wills Road (No7) should be right in the finish.
Leading Role (No2, R5) looked huge in finishing off for second on the opening day and should appreciate the step to 1400m. He should be in for a very profitable preparation. Plenty of room for an upset for the multiples and Sheridan (No4) could be one of the them.
The two wins by Flying Master (No1, R6) have not been flukes. He has drawn out a bit and Jasmin Fawcett will need to weave a touch of magic, but she has learned a lot and is riding very well. King Cougar (No2) covered way too much extra real estate last start and did well to finish a place. His barrier is even worse.
Race 8 is impossible. When faced with that, go for value and a dabble each-way on Endean Rose (No11) may not be the worst. She should be sharpened by her first-up run.
If you watched the last 400m of Deals In Heels (No11, R10), you won't want to be on anything else in the last at Hastings.
She looks like she's heading towards being the real deal.
At Rosehill in Sydney, Don't Give A Damn (R2) looks like a good way to start the day at short odds. The debut win was good then the luck wheels fell off when subsequently second. Kerrin McEvoy should box seat from the No4 barrier.
Late in the day, Bjorn Baker can get some of the R9 money with Impavido, who is on a resuming run. Talented mare with only 53.5kg, an inside gate and Tim Clark to steer. Each way is the go and the Chris Waller-trained Zumbalina is the obvious danger.
At Caulfield, Race 2 is intriguing. No one who watched Padraig race here was surprised he won first up in Australia for the Busuttin/Young team. He goes up a few grades for this, but he will end up with a high rating. Eshtiraak looks the winner on paper and perhaps the quinella is a good risk. The Hayes/Dabernig stable has Fuhryk in Race 8 and after an improving first-up run, could well handle this race.
Wyndspelle went out at $150 in his first Australian start from Mick Kent's stable and over a much too short trip was making ground late. Up to 1400m this time and don't be surprised if he's poking his nose in late.