Before reaching for the wallet make sure your Makfi fancy will handle the Hastings footing tomorrow.

In group one races you need every advantage you can grab.

For tomorrow's $200,000 Makfi Stakes at Hastings three of the four favourites Kawi, Hasselhoof and Valley Girl have drawn barriers 15, 16 and 14.

The other addition to the favourite quartet, Stolen Dance has barrier No 6.

Therefor it comes down to one factor - track conditions. If the track is significantly wet the wide draws will likely be an advantage.


If the Hastings surface is reasonably good - and yesterday it was close to that after 8mm overnight - Stolen Dance probably holds the advantage with her inside gate.

As one prominent Hastings trainer said yesterday: "The track was a genuine dead (5) yesterday and after the 8mm it shifted into slow. It probably wouldn't take a lot more to shift to genuine rain affected."

Weather forecasts appear to be contradictory.

The Met Service's three-day rain forecast predicts significant falls in Hawke's Bay today and slightly less tomorrow.

It's nice to get the early fixed odds prices, but this is one occasion where it would pay to wait probably until tomorrow to bet into the Makfi, at which point track conditions will be accurate.

It's unlikely conditions will get to the heavy range, which is fortunate because not one of the above quartet has won on a heavy surface and only Hasselhoof and Valley girl have got the money on an officially slow track.

Matt Cameron said Hasselhoof did not appreciate the slow track when third to Valley Girl at Ruakaka when resuming.

"He's much better when it's a nice dead rating.

"When he won in the slow at Ellerslie it was nice and loose."

Kawi is by far the best suited to these weight-for-age conditions. He is best on a good surface, but is such a determined and dynamic type he will be competitive regardless of conditions.

He struck an unsuitable "off" track in the Easter at Ellerslie, but still managed a solid-closing third.

Valley Girl beat stablemate Hasselhoof 1.8 lengths at Ruakaka and Hasselhoof has improved more of the pair because Valley Girl doesn't need to - she was the more forward of the two.

Co-trainer Chris Gibbs is delighted with both. "Hasselhoof has come on nicely. He's tightened up significantly."

Worth remembering is the Ruakaka third was his first New Zealand defeat. Being bred from a Zabeel mare this season at five should be his best.

So, conditions will definitely decide this race.

Check tomorrow's Weekend Herald for the up-to-date information.

Marco Chui has a handy book of rides at Ashburton today and the former champion Hong Kong apprentice rates Zucchero as one of his best PROSPECTS.

The 30-year-old successfully combined with the ex-North Islander on the course at the end of last month and they will be chasing a repeat performance in the Downright Drainage Ltd Rating 75.

"Two runs back he went really well," Chui said.

"The ground was a little bit too heavy for him after that at Riccarton " he should be one of my main chances."

Previously with Peter and Dawn Williams and Paul Richards at Byerley Park, Zucchero made a fresh start in May from the Riccarton stable of Neill Ridley and the Pins gelding wasted no time in making his mark from his new quarters.

He was a debut second before going one better and he now looks well-placed to further his record in the opening event on the Ashburton card.

Chui will also continue his association with Zucchero's stablemate Miss Mia in the Speights Mid Strength Rating 65 after partnering the Zed mare to consecutive placings.

"She's been going pretty well and she's got a good heart, every time you ask her she gives everything," he said.

Chui will also ride Sunflower, who he won on two starts ago, in the PGG Wrightson Rating 65, and Domaine (Sim's Bakery Maiden) for Andrew Carston.

"He's put me on a few and I'm very grateful," Chui said.

He won on Sunflower at Oamaru last month and was aboard Domaine when the mare finished fifth at Ashburton in her first appearance from Carston's yard.

Chui is also looking forward to riding the Terri Rae-trained Darkseid in the Christmas at the Races 16 December Maiden.

"It's my first ride for Terri," he said.

"The filly showed ability at the trials and won pretty impressively."

The punt

• Close to a win: Beaufighter (R3, Ruakaka). Has been finishing off well and needs only a bit of luck to break through.

• Distance suits: Gold Rose (R7, Ruakaka). Two 1200m races for a win and a fourth, finishing fast both times. Jumps to 1400m and it will help.

• Weight differential: All Roads (R8, Ruakaka). Narrowly beaten by stablemate Cambridge at the last northern meeting. Meets Cambridge 1kg better off this time and that would have made winning the difference last time.

- Additional reporting, NZ Racing Desk.