The $2.80 fixed odds price around Age Of Fire in Trentham's feature looks generous if still available today.
Particularly with the rain looking as though it will stay away for one of the major racedays.
Rain has always looked to be Age Of Fire's main danger in the $225,000 Grant Plumbing Levin Classic after his stunning run of form against the best 3-year-olds around.
The Te Akau colt has gone the right way since a gallant win at Ellerslie over the carnival. Trentham, like Riccarton in the 2000 Guineas, will suit Age Of Fire because it provides a long run in down the home straight, which often rules out bad luck and the best horse gets an opportunity to win.
When he won at Ellerslie last start he had to come from last which was impressive, even if the inside lane he came down was the place to be and that pacemaker Ever Royal tended to do everything wrong in the home straight. Given a reasonable surface, Age Of Fire should simply be too good at level weights.
The Trentham track was yesterday rated officially a dead 6 and that is likely to be the rating today, at least for the start of racing. That probably won't suit Spring Heat, one of the favourites of this column. She did not accelerate as well as she can on the dead track at Ellerslie on Boxing Day and being a very athletic, rangy filly, her stride seems shortened by a less than firm surface. She is too good to ignore though. So is another northern filly at Belle du Nord, who, at $14, looks enormous each-way value. She was less than one length from Age Of Fire at Ellerslie last start.
Haussmann is in the same category and went out to $15 yesterday. It would pay to forget his last two misses when things have not gone his way.
Race 1 at Trentham is a special conditions which features a lot of emerging talent among mainly lightly tried horses. The extended experience of last-start winner Silver Cloud (No5) might make a difference. She was strong late to win her maiden at Tauranga and the open spaces of Trentham should give the Sir Peter Vela mare every opportunity. Vinnie's Volley (No8) looked good on debut.
Plenty of chances in Race 4 and one of them is Rube Bridges (No9). She resumed at Te Rapa and came from a fair way back to finish a close fifth in a slightly stronger field than this behind Elusive Meteor. The 1400m at Trentham will suit and trainer Stephen Marsh is winning plenty of races. Very open field for the multiple ventures.
The same Marsh/Johnson combination are going to take plenty of beating in Race 5. One of the better winning performances in the lower grades over the Ellerslie carnival was the R65 1600m by Felaar (No2). He got back early, came the widest out in the centre of the track and the power he produced to sweep past the entire field to win by three lengths was more than eye-catching. He steps up to 2100m here and while that looks to be even more his distance, the first middle distance race is never a given for a horse. Additionally, he has to come out of a very wide gate, but chances are he will drop back early and look to move around the field around the 500m.
Benzini (No5, R6) is going to need to be tough to win the Trentham Stakes, but he is exactly that. He was brought undone by the fierce on-pace bias in the Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie then tripped up by the wet footing for the Avondale Cup, explaining the very ordinary looking paper formline. With 55kg he comes into this race on a luxury mark, dropping from 59kg at Ellerslie.
Devise (No15) is the favourite and with 53kg and the inside barrier she will get her chance.
Chance To Dance (No3) is another caught by the on-pace Zabeel bias.
The Anniversary, Race 8 is a puzzler, evidenced by the TAB judging it at $6 and better the field.
If you have to have a nibble, probably the best is Nicoletta (No13) each way. She appears to be approaching her best, which would make her competitive in this field. The most even field of the day.
Former Hong Kong galloper King's Cross (No4, R9) is yet another of the Stephen Marsh, Danielle Johnson runners.
He stormed home to win in his first start back in New Zealand and came from a long way back to finish second on Boxing Day. He gets an extra 100m here and a track that will better suit his back running style. Legramor (No11) is improving.
• Our best at Ellerslie tomorrow is Ever Loyal (No1, R4) the 3-year-old. He is still a work in progress, but has excellent ability.
Charles Road (No2, R7) should be tricky to manage in Karaka Cup, with Symphonic (No3) right in the act.