It's back to a suitable race for Decorah in tomorrow's $100,000 Go Racing Syndications Avondale Cup at Ellerslie.

The high quality Cambridge-trained mare comes in nicely in the weights at 57kg.

Three starts back the 60kg proved too much when third to Vavasour in the Waikato Cup, then she came back to 57.5kg in the City of Auckland Cup and won stylishly, the subsequent Karaka Stayers Cup at Ellerslie again proving prohibitive under 60kg, although her third placing to Rose Of Virginia was first class.

Back to 57kg under the different conditions of tomorrow's race, Decorah is again a strong chance.


The only seeming negative is the wide barrier (No 15) of the 16 runners, but the Ellerslie 2400m starting point allows a long run to the first bend and Decorah has Opie Bosson to find her an early decent spot.

Another plus for Decorah is she won't mind a medium-range rain affected track.
Midday yesterday it was difficult to gauge what Ellerslie might end up with tomorrow given the off-and-on rain pattern in the area. Four of Decorah's seven wins have been on slow or heavy surfaces.

Conversely, Rose Of Virginia, who headed her home last start, will be looking for the best possible ground. "She's been placed on off tracks, but all her best form has been on good footing," says trainer Lance Noble.

The Matamata trainer is delighted this is a straight handicap, which allows Rose Of Virginia to come into the race on 53kg, just above the minimum weight.

"Those set weights and penalties races we've had a few of make it difficult," said Noble.

"I'm very happy with her going into this race and she will be right in it if conditions suit."

Rose Of Virginia is at the opposite end of the starting stalls to Decorah - she has drawn gate No 1.

There are variables here like how will New Zealand and Manawatu Cup winner Jimmy Mac handle his first start right-handed. All 28 career starts have been the reverse way around.
Jimmy Mac is a lot better than his sixth place in the Wellington Cup last time out would suggest. Provided he is reasonably comfortable the Ellerslie way around he should be right in this.

Farm Boy is the question horse. Despite a 2774 recent formline he is well capable of beating this line-up, but you have to take into account his beaten run at Te Rapa last start. On 56.5kg he comes into this race better than in recent attempts.

Pondarosa Miss is another capable of a huge performance. The footing last start did not suit her when she raced well below expectations, but if she is comfortable this time, look for something much more like her best.

Sacred Master is stepping up from easier grades, but is a horse on the up.
It might be six months too soon, but it's not impossible he could be right in this.

Weekend pointers
This easier: Marky Mark, R3 Ellerslie. Back from tough assignments. Freshened and looks well placed. Record says he doesn't mind a bit of rain.
Has speed if that suits the track tomorrow: Sheradream, R4 Ellerslie. Has speed, a huge apprentice claim and an inside draw if that suits the day's pattern.
Underrated: Brighton, R7 Ellerslie. Going 1200m-1600m-2100m, but has been finishing on in recent races. Great Guineas field, but don't ignore.