Welcome to racing's twilight zone.

It's that period between the summer and winter seasons that drives punters crazy.

Summer and autumn horses suddenly strike wet and testing track conditions they are unable to manage. Because, in the main, little or nothing is known about their ability to handle winter tracks they are given the benefit of doubt.

At Saturday's two main venues that doubt proved misplaced.


At Rotorua there looked to be on form three "specials", all from Tony Pike's Cambridge stable. The rot started with Hollywood Lass, $2.70 at best. She won her maiden race by the same distance as from here to the Post Shop, but was comprehensively beaten by $46 shot Enjoy The Ride.

Yeah right. Few did.

Out came stablemate Summer's Day, who wound up third to $10 chance Arkak, leaving those who pushed her price into $2.50 reaching for a glass of something nice for reassurance.

It must have convinced a few to follow up on Nomisma, who looked a very strong chance late in the day. She produced an excellent effort but was clearly beaten into third by a margin.

Unsurprisingly, the Rotorua Pick6 was not struck and the $109,332 pool is carried over to the next meeting in the district.

Possibly the bet of the entire day looked to be Matamata sprinter Shillelagh at New Plymouth, resuming from a break and unbeaten in that state. She also trialled well at Te Teko.

The hot favourite looked more like a $60 shot when she started struggling from the home bend, finishing seventh. It may not have been the mare's fault, although the conditions payed a part. The stipendiary stewards report included: "Stewards questioned Cameron Lammas with respect to the performance of Shillelagh, which failed to run on over the final stages. He reported that Shillelagh, which was having its first run since January, had not travelled well in today's going and that when placed under pressure rounding the turn responded but only briefly and was beaten prior to the 200m. Mr Lammas added that Shillelagh would gain benefit from today's outing. Stewards ordered a veterinary inspection of Shillelagh which revealed no abnormality, however upon cooling out the mare required veterinary treatment for a suspected bout of colic."

There are a million ways you can be beaten in racing.


Seemingly, the only get-out was the generous $7 offered late about Rotorua Cup winner Storming The Tower. If you took the view Authentic Paddy's 60.5kg would beat him - and it did - it made Storming The Tower no better than $4 in that field.

When you reappear from the crying room if you backed favourites on Saturday, rip up the weekend's form guide and pretend those race days didn't happen.

The riders of these fancied runners told stipendiary stewards their mounts couldn't handle the conditions:

Rotorua: R1 Feroz, R3 Single Shot, R4 Hollywood Lass, R6 Celebrity Miss, R8 Miss Denni, Bonniegirl.

New Plymouth: R1 Highbrook, R2 Zip Zap, R3 Elusive Jane, R6 Vinevale.

There would have been many more.