Sacred Star has 2kg more than he won last year's Telegraph with. But that's only one factor in the equation.

The more complicated conclusion is he's probably not much worse off with 59kg than he was with 57kg 12 months ago.

Sacred Star made the country's best sprinters look ordinary a year back, winning by four lengths and running the 1200m in a remarkable 1.7.01. With earnings of $681,614 from just 26 starts Sacred Star is well placed under the set weights and penalties. "In a straight handicap he'd have been asked to carry a lot more so you can't argue he's harshly treated," admits trainer Tony Pike.

Sacred Star has had just four races since winning the 2015 version of the Telegraph. "He had a long spell after he came back from Queensland [after two starts]." The 6-year-old finished just two lengths off winner Ryan Mark in fourth place in Ellerslie's Railway on an unsuitable wet track.


"I think he's going as well as he was this time last year," says Pike. "So, from his good gate all he needs is a good track and a clear run." Sacred Star opened the clear $3.60 TAB favourite for the feature.

Stablemate Allez Eagle, better suited by the slow conditions, was just nosed out in the Railway.

"This time he has a shocking barrier [No18 without the emergencies], but it is down the Trentham dogleg, so he's going to get his chance and shouldn't be far away." It's time for southern sprinter Soubrettes to step up to the plate in the Telegraph.

That's the opinion of co-trainer Mandy Brown.

Soubrettes is a slow learner with a light frame, somewhat typical of the High Chaparrals, and Brown and husband and training partner Matt have shown rare patience in nursing the mare through - just nine career starts for five wins. She has had just three starts since last year's fifth in the Telegraph. "She's five and she can step up," says Mandy Brown.

Soubrettes could finish only seventh in Riccarton's Stewards last start, but Brown is unconcerned.

"She was taken on in front in that race, didn't settle and she'd have been a lot better if she'd been in behind a couple of runners," says Mandy Brown. Soubrettes will be tried in blinkers for the first time, something that can make horses race keenly initially, but the Browns are hoping Soubrettes will trail this time.

At her best Soubrettes is good enough to test this field and Mandy Brown has confidence.

"I feel she's better than she was this time a year ago, she's more mature physically and mentally." Ryan Mark goes up 2kg to 58kg for his Railway win at Ellerslie, which was somewhat aided by rain on the day, something he is unlikely to encounter this time around.

Any easing will be welcomed and yesterday's forecast suggested a possibility of a couple of light showers tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

Capital tips
Best each way: Natuzzi, R8, Trentham: Great third in the Railway when committed to an unsuitable inside passage. Trentham suits better and he's done well since Ellerslie.
Firm track this time: Victor Hugo, R7, Trentham: Upset by the slow track at Ellerslie Jan 1. Won three straight before that and Trentham will suit his style.
The 2100m will suit: Rasa Lila, R4, Trentham: Found the 1600m too short behind Hasselhoof at Ellerslie and this track and distance suit.