Injury to warm pre-post favourite Kawi means Saracino is one of many realistic chances in Foxbridge Plate.

Kawi's scratching from tomorrow's $100,000 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate has changed the landscape to an unrecognisable level in the north's biggest new season race.

In terms of real class, Kawi will be missed, but now it is a REAL betting race.

Southern Icon and Longchamp, winners of their past four and three respectively, are now the most discussed prospects and what about 3-year-old Saracino?

Yes, Southern Icon and Longchamp have won a quarter of a million dollars between them and Saracino is a maiden, but don't necessarily be swayed by that.


Maiden status is almost an insult to Saracino. He has raced only three times and in his past two has been 2.2 lengths behind Heroic Valour in the Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie and then just .8 lengths behind filly of the year Luna Rossa in the Sires Produce at Manawatu.

Three-year-olds at weight-for-age at this time of year are interesting.

Saracino has just 51.5kg against the likes of Southern Icon and Longchamp on 58.5kg, but against that, few 3-year-olds have tackled the race in recent times.

Records have Saracino's co-trainer Andrew Forsman sceptical.

"There have been few 3-year-olds in this race. We had Lion Tamer in it five or six years ago and he got wiped out when a horse crashed early.

"He went on to have a great spring campaign [winning the Victoria Derby], but it's difficult to know."

The advantage Southern Icon and Longchamp have is their total fitness.

The Te Rapa run will be Saracino's first since chasing Luna Rossa home at Awapuni in April.


"He's only had the three starts," says Forsman, "but he's been beaten mainly through greenness.

"It's hard to say he's fit, even though the good horses get a good track to gallop at Cambridge, but it's still wet tracks.

"The owners are keen to take him to Australia and any prizemoney he can pick up this time will help.

"It's a case of finding a nice race with stakemoney, close to home and on a decent track first up."

This is not perhaps the best line-up the Foxbridge Plate has seen and maybe Saracino with his flyweight can make a real impression.

Forsman is well aware what he's up against.

"We are not entirely fit and Southern Icon is as fit as he can be. He races on front and he's going to take all the beating in the world."

Longchamp has won his past three for his astute trainer Andrew Campbell.

They have all been in heavy footing and this track will be better, although that may be misleading. The Tavistocks don't need wet tracks and Longchamp has won two on dead going, which he is almost certainly likely to strike here.

He is a huge danger.

Southern Icon is a relentless galloper and it will take a huge and determined effort to pull him back late.

In the Matamata gelding's favour is that he has won three times on a slow (9) at Te Rapa, a point to consider at a course which seems to suit past winners.

Weekend winners

• Has age but untried: Hillsborough (R9, Te Rapa). Looked good in last preparation. Could be on the way to better things.

• Each-way: El Disparo (R5, Te Rapa). Form is solid and got down in the worst footing at Te Rapa last start.

• Worth attention: Cha Siu Bao (R1, Te Rapa). Showed enough in three starts last campaign to suggest maiden class could be behind him here.