Difficult to sort out a good winner locally today, but if you wait for the last at Ellerslie tonight take Secret Spirit (No 7, R7) each-way.

Yes, she failed when resuming at Tauranga as favourite last start, but anything could be excused that day.

Secret Spirit has form in stakes races, which puts her ahead of many in this field and her Ellerslie record is three starts for two wins and a placing.

The track will be tough come the last and she has four wins from six starts in the heavy stuff. Each-way looks good.


Jumping day and while that is outstanding to watch, punting can be a bit tricky.

Improver Crash Bandicoot (No 8, R6) can win the Pakuranga Hunt Cup. As mentioned in yesterday's column, he looked the goods going forward when he finished second to Eric The Viking at Trentham two starts back. His subsequent maiden flat win may not look impressive on his resume, but it shows he is in the right shape and has the ideal mental attitude.

With Northern winners Amanood Lad (No 1), Jack Ramanov (No 2) and Rangatira (No 3) looking to prep for the much longer Great Northern again, they could be caught a touch short of sprint in this shorter race.

Crash Bandicoot's stablemate Kick Back (No 4) could be the danger. Look at her record of four wins from seven steeplechase starts.

Biologist (No 4, R2) seemed unhappy on last week's Te Rapa track and back on Ellerslie where he has two wins, could quickly return to his best.

Old John Gray (No 2) cannot help but impress us all with his longevity and will put in as usual.

Mr Kanton (No 5, R3) showed enough promise as a hurdler to suggest he might run a huge race here in his steeplechase debut. West End (No 1) and Zed Case (No 2) look dangers.

With a record of three hurdle wins from six starts Raisafuasho (No 6, R4) looks the goods for the major hurdling race on the card. He might be a veteran in age, but he has been hugely impressive lately. Mahanadi (No 2) can be difficult to follow, but has ability as does D'Llaro (No 3).

There will be no more watched race in this part of the world than Winx (No 6, R7) in Sydney this afternoon. Unless there is a motorbike in the race she should win.

Better odds will be available in Melbourne when Stephen McKee produces Passing Shot (No 2, R8) at Moonee Valley. The issue will be joint topweight on 58kg with the beautifully-named Shiraz. He has a record of four wins from six fresh starts, the question being he has not previously raced at Moonee Valley. That may or may not be an issue.

Meanwhile at New Plymouth, Cambridge trainer Chris Wood will represent the pride of Mooloo country when he saddles Pacorus in the ITM New Plymouth Building Supplies Interprovincial 1600 today.

"Fingers crossed. I've been a Waikato boy for a long time now so it would be nice to do," Wood said.

However, Wood wasn't predicting a Waikato win, suggesting the Tavistock 5-year-old would need the run as he embarks on a spring campaign targeting the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup (3200m) at Riccarton in November.

"While he's placed at 1400m and 1600m, he's never won below 1800m, so the 1600m on Saturday will probably be a bit sharp for him," Wood said yesterday.

"He's not screwed down for this. He's got bigger fish to fry. Whatever he does, he'll improve on going forward, but he won't go a bad race."

Pacorus has won four of his 18 starts and looks an exciting staying talent.

"We took him to the Waipa jumpouts last week and he went well. He's progressing nicely. The long-term aim is the New Zealand Cup and we'll work out his programme towards that after this weekend."

Pacorus is one of several runners from the Cambridge area in action in the Interprovincial.

The Stephen Marsh-trained El Duque will represent Auckland, the Graeme Thomas and Nick Smith-trained Mangaroa Flo Jo will run for Thames Valley, the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Arzak will go around in Hawke's Bay colours, while the Steven Ramsay and Julia Ritchie-trained Meritaggio is the Bay Of Plenty representative.

Wood will also have unbeaten galloper Wooden Edge and Roc de Bank in action at New Plymouth.

Wooden Edge will chase his third straight win in the ITM Golden Bay Cement Special Conditions Maiden (1400m), with Pacorus' jockey Viktoria Gatu again engaged.

"Tina Egan's horse [Such A One] won by 9 lengths last start and that looks the hardest to beat, but our bloke has worked well and has done everything right," Wood said.

"Everything he's done so far, he's done on his ear."

Like Pacorus and Wooden Edge, Roc de Bank goes into his weekend assignment freshened since his last start but he has pleased Wood with his leadup training.

- NZ Racing Desk