The stable believe rain is Age Of Fire's main danger in tomorrow's $225,000 Grant Plumbing Levin Classic at Trentham.
Co-trainer Stephen Autridge admits he's barely a rain radar watcher, but yesterday had a peek or two at the predicted Wellington weather.
"They all have to manage whatever track the race is presented with, but definitely the better the track the better our bloke will be."
Autridge said there was a time or two in the lead-up to the placed run in the 2000 Guineas that Age Of Fire showed he was not quite at his best with rain around.
Punters are perhaps waiting to get a real feel for likely track conditions before taking advantage of the TAB's Fixed Odds because late yesterday Age Of Fire was unchanged on his Wednesday opening quote of $2.80 when you might have anticipated a trim up following early betting.
Second and third favourites are Spring Heat at $4.50 and Savvy Coup on $4.80. Spring Heat has exceptional ability but both rider Jake Bayliss and co-trainer Lance O'Sullivan are convinced the filly needs firm footing to produce her top talent.
Age Of Fire has progressed through an upward form spiral since his second to Embellish in the 2000 Guineas. He galloped beautifully between races on his home track at Matamata then impressed getting up in the last two strides to win at Ellerslie on Boxing Day even if the leader Ever Royal assisted him by running greenly.
"He's really gone on the right way since Ellerslie," says Autridge.
Savvy Coup worked to the line strongly to take the Eulogy last start, but against the males as well this time faces a tougher task. She is tough though and has that beautiful Savabeel-Pins cross.
There is each-way value in this market. Belle Du Nord was less than one length from Age Of Fire at Ellerslie last start and Jake Bayliss felt his progress had been sufficiently affected to prompt him to protest. That was unsuccessful, but it showed how talented the filly is. She is also a previous winner at Trentham. The $14 is worth an each-way look.
So are the same odds yesterday offered around Haussmann, who has shown a number of times, including in the Hawke's Bay Guineas, he is up to the best. You can't keep making excuses for beaten horses, but Haussmann has not had all the luck in his last two runs. Definitely put him in your multiples. A rain-affected track would be diabolical because this could be a real cracker of a race.
Northern trainer Nigel Tiley is disappointed to have had to withdraw The Justice League from the $70,000 Tui Backing Winners Anniversary because of a poor blood test, but says he would not have made the trip south if the track had been anything like rain-affected.
"He didn't work as well as he can early in the week and I pulled a blood off him and it showed an elevated white cell count, so there is no way I was going to send him down there without him being at his best."
Without the stylish Ellerslie winner, the Anniversary market is confusing for TAB bookmakers and punters alike.
The favourite at $5.50 is Nicoletta following her win at Te Rapa on the eve of Christmas.
She should keep improving through this preparation and she is nicely placed on 53.5kg.
Kolonel Kev has been in career best form and he, along with Beefeater, have appeal.