RICHARD EDMUNDS
IN HIS 23-start career, Snipza Gold has only been the favourite six times.
Tomorrow, when he takes his place in the seven-horse field for the $18,000 www.glenaros.co.nz Country Estate Sprint at Hastings, should be the seventh time.
Snipza Gold is in an unusual situation for a horse trained by New Zealand's leading trainer, Mark Walker - he is under-rated. In those 23 races, he has won seven and been second or third 11 times.
In his last four starts he has recorded three placings in strong fields - third in the Group 3 Stewards Stakes at Riccarton behind San Bernardino and Clifton Prince, third in the Timaru Stakes behind Hold It Harvey and One Love, and third in the Group 3 Darley Plate behind Accardo and Richard Beymer.
You would expect that a horse with form that strong would have no trouble taking out a Friday open handicap. But he has 58kg to contend with, and some strong opposition.
Among those are Wyban Angel, who has won three of her last five starts, Cuddle Stakes winner Yanna Marie and last year's Hawke's Bay Gold Cup winner, The Veep.
There are several other strong races on tomorrow's programme. Among them is the $12,000 www.swiftnet.co.nz Sprint, which features Group 3 winner Ransom Express, the undeniably talented Al Qurhah and impressive last-start winners Amazing Sky and Glam Slam, with the latter never having finished further back than second in her career.
As well as some talented horses, tomorrow's meeting will have most of the country's best jockeys on show - particularly Michael Walker (pictured), Opie Bosson, Leith Innes, James McDonald and Hayden Tinsley, all of whom have reasonably strong books of rides, which is all riders of their quality need to find their way to the winners' circle.
It should be well worth going along and having a look.