If you can think of a way they can beat Monarch Chimes in tomorrow's $125,000 Great Northern Hurdle declare yourself because we've yet to hear a sensible scenario.

Types like Monarch Chimes don't win Great Northerns. They are the territory of the older, seasoned, battle-ready jumpers. Monarch Chimes is still a novice - but a novice with a seemingly unbeatable presence.

If you didn't initially believe that, you did after Monarch Chimes picked himself up after nearly falling at the last fence here two weeks ago and still won with a bit in hand.

The extreme distance would usually be a concern, but it was very noticeable how he relaxed a fortnight back until rider Shaun Phelan asked him to sprint to the leaders. If he can relax the same this time the 4190m should not be a problem.


Like the depth in the Great Northern Steeples, this race has attracted a terrific field. Coming off the back of a winning treble, which included a stylish Wellington Hurdles win, The Shackler shocked when he faded to finish eighth at the Pakuranga meeting two weeks ago. There may have been a doubt with the dashing hurdler having not raced for five weeks and initially trainer Paul Nelson was mystified, but he later discovered when he got back to Hawke's Bay that the horse's blood count was well astray.

"He's fine in the area of his blood now," says Nelson. If he produces a similar effort to his Wellington Hurdles victory, The Shackler is the one the favourite has to beat.

With rain forecast for today and tomorrow this track will be very heavy and will suit absolute stayers.

No horse in this field fits that mould better than Raisafuasho. He does not win out of turn these days, but he gets well back out of his ground early and no race in the country suits him better than this one. Look to him to be running into it from the 800m.

El Corby has impressed almost as much as the favourite in coming into the jumping game this year. His five hurdling starts have resulted in three wins and two placings. He looked the winner here two weeks ago when Monarch Chimes made a mistake at the last, but the favourite still proved too good.