Oh, what a different feel tomorrow's $200,000 NRM Sprint at Te Rapa has about it.

It used to be the 2000m weight-for-age race on the programme that was dominated by 3-year-olds.

So much so that after Bonecrusher and 3-year-olds like him won it uncontested, it led to a change in the weight-for-age scale in this part of the world.

But never the 1400m sprint, yet here we are with Xtravagant the $2.70 favourite ahead of a hugely talented warrior in the likes of Sacred Star at $5.


It is indicative of the stamina index change of the New Zealand thoroughbred, once thought of only for its 2000m-plus horses and now dipping under the 1600m when it comes to staring down Australians.

Xtravagant is an extraordinarily talented young horse for Te Akau and its trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards and you can completely ignore his last-start failure at Trentham when rider Matt Cameron said the colt with the Hollywood looks couldn't use his natural speed in the rain-affected footing.

If you take the view the $2.70 is a fraction too short, then the $5 about Sacred Star is probably good value. Only the rain-affected footing at Trentham last start brought him undone and his high-level sprinting, including winning this last year, is superb.

• Vespa is set to scoot in the NRM Sprint at Te Rapa.

The Elusive City four-year-old entire is one of seven group one winners in the field and goes into the weight-for-age event in superb order, according to Otaki trainer Johno Benner.

Of the seven runners in the Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham sent out at $11 or less, fifth-placed Vespa was the only one to finish in the first 10.

TAB bookmakers have installed Vespa as a $10 equal fourth favourite.

• New Zealander Turn Me Loose has been the best-backed runner in the C F Orr Stakes at Caulfield.

Trained by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, Turn Me Loose will be having his first start in tomorrow's Orr (1400m) since his win in the Emirates Stakes in November.

He has firmed in early markets from $6 to $5.

- Additional reporting: NZ Racing Desk, AAP