Now she is properly fit she will relish the step up to 2100m at Te Rapa today

The opener is a toughie so you may as well go for the jockey. You can apply any number of equations to Race 2 at Te Rapa today and Chaparrone (No2) pretty much comes out on top in all of them.

The current form stacks up, she has drawn beautifully and looks a weight special.

Because the female thoroughbreds these days get well looked after in the handicaps, Chaparrone comes into this race with just half a kilo above the minimum against horses underneath her that will not achieve the same career record she looks like compiling.


She finished well over 1600m on this track last start and now that she is properly fit she will relish the step to 2100m.

The opener is a toughie so you may as well go for the jockey and in this case that's Opie Bosson. He rides Reilly Star (No4, R1) for Anne Herbert. Any horse's first start at a middle distance is not always easy, but Anne Herbert knows how to get horses fit and Bosson might be able to do the rest for you. Ryan John (No1) wasn't that far away in a strong 1600m maiden at Te Rapa last week and should appreciate an easier field and a bit more distance.

Estrato (No4, R3) and Alegrio (No1) pick themselves in this small open handicap sprint. Estrato has Opie Bosson and a lovely barrier, but Alegrio will get 4kg off his 59.5kg with Dylan Turner's apprentice allowance. They will carry the same weight and start alongside - Alegrio has drawn the rails. In what should be a great head-to-head clash, perhaps Alegrio gets the slight nod for having won 12 races - four out of six at Ellerslie. The best passage will win the race.

Plenty of chances in Race 4, the maiden 1400m. Travel Wise (No7) has recorded two good thirds from as many visits to the races and has looked like a horse that will appreciate the jump to 1400m. He will get every chance from his barrier. It would be appropriate if Bravado (No4) won - his trainer Chris Wood sponsors this race.

Wood holds a strong hand in the following event, Race 5, with Handsome Mates (No3) and fresh runner Bob Valdez engaged. They both have to beat the topweight in Gallant (No1), who has to lump 59kg. He carried that into a close third when resuming at Matamata and should be fitter now. Bob Valdez has not raced since May, but has won while fresh in the past.

The Tidy Express (No13, R9) did not get all the breaks when resuming and the inexperienced mare did well to be beaten less than half a length. With her light weight she should go close.

Taaxman (No5) is another who went around luckless last start.

At Awapuni, Kevin Myers will be attempting to do one of his remarkably astute placements with Crocodile Canyon (No3, R7) in the $70,000 Hotel Coachman Manawatu Cup.

Myers has made an art of getting horses fit and competitive in unorthodox ways and this time with Crocodile Canyon it's through winning the Hamilton Cup in Victoria then an unplaced run at the Melbourne Cup carnival.

He looks not badly placed with 55.5kg and will be competitive. The obvious danger is Cassini (No2) who is trained by Mark Oulaghan, every bit as good as Myers at setting horses for major races.

He has freshened Cassini since winning at Wanganui.

Now that the bad weather looks like hitting more tomorrow than today, the highlight of this programme should come from the Mufhasa (No1, R9) versus Better Than Ever (No2) clash in the Tod Seeds Manawatu Challenge Stakes.

Mufhasa is the safest bet of the two because Jason Bridgman says he is still feeling his way with the former Singapore champ, but if he has got Better Than Ever at his best for his New Zealand debut the sparks will fly between this pair.