Ellerslie earners

• Mudlark:

El Disparo, R3 Ellerslie. Won well here last campaign and will not mind the rain.

• Versatile: Odisha, R4 Ellerslie. Well known lately on top of the ground but has a win on a heavy 11 in her background. Has ability.

• Conditions suit: Sofia Rosa, R8 Ellerslie. Class act that has been set for this race. Will be in the placings.


Pam Gerard and Lisa Latta had no reason to smile after last week's Vodafone Derby at Ellerslie, but redemption could arrive for both trainers in tomorrow's $500,000 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup.

Gerard produced the Derby favourite Savile Row, who raced erratically as he can do and finished out of the placings.

It was worse for Latta - her runner Lincoln Blue put on a bucking show in the first 200m and was never in the race.

Mister Impatience for Gerard can square up the ledger and Latta has Five To Midnight and King Kamada engaged in the Cup.

Mister Impatience threw out the tip for the Auckland Cup when he finished a closing third to El Soldado in the lead-up Avondale Cup. He worked well in a special gallop with Savile Row at Ellerslie last Tuesday week after which Pam Gerard said: "He's flying, all we need for the Auckland Cup is some rain."

That prayer has been answered. Regular showers have dampened Auckland this week, but much worse is to come. Rain, some of it heavy, is forecast for today and tomorrow.

"We are meant to get 40mm tomorrow [Friday] and the same Saturday," said Auckland Racing Club executive Craig Baker.

If that is close to accurate it is only common sense the track will be heavy. There is no way around it.


None of which should worry Mister Impatience and Five To Midnight, but Lisa Latta is unsure how King Kamada will cope if the footing is wet and testing.

"He used to be okay in it as a younger horse, but he's not too flash in the wet these days. Five To Midnight [winner in slow and heavy] will be fine with it." Both horses have had the right sort of preparation and Five To Midnight looms as a real winning prospect. He is only four, but he is fit and hard.

If the track was good Jacksstar would be our tip and close to a special, but the likelihood of heavy footing has trainer Gary Vile extremely concerned.

"As a young horse coming through the grades wet tracks were no problem, but as he's got older he's decided he doesn't like them." Jacksstar ran the fastest late sectionals in the Avondale Cup in finishing sixth and looked right on target for this race.

"I can honestly say I can't get him any better and if the track was good I'd be confident but, to be honest, I have no idea how he will go in the footing we're going to get. I'm pretty worried."

Megablast is one of the best mudders in the field. He looked to be travelling like a winner when he loomed up towards El Soldado on the home bend in the Avondale Cup and although he hit the line strongly he couldn't get past the upset winner. This track will be a fair bit worse than that day and that won't worry the grey stayer.

The conditions are likely to put last week's Nathans winner Chenille, Fanatic and probably Pentathlon out of business. Between them they have not won on a rain-affected track.

El Soldado won this race last year at massive odds. His upset Avondale Cup win was under 53kg and this task will be a lot tougher with 58kg.

Snow Secret could be the best value runner for multiple bettors.

Glum faces are easy to spot among trainers in the face of rain in Auckland - past and expected - but Stephen Marsh's is not one of them.

The Cambridge trainer's three main chances at Ellerslie for group glory tomorrow will all be suited by the expected "off" track.

Sofia Rosa stays in favour for a decent slice of the $200,000 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes and Serious Satire and Thee Auld Floozie are ideal in the wet for the $100,000 Westbury Classic.

"The rain has come at the right time for Sofia Rosa and she needs to go close this time if she's to go back to Sydney. If she doesn't we'll look at a trip to Brisbane." Marsh has been saying for several weeks that Serious Satire, getting close to full fitness, will be best suited with some rain.

She fought strongly for third at Ellerslie last start under 58.5kg and drops this time to a much more comfortable 55.5kg.

"She drops back from 1600m to 1400m this time, but will go back to 1600m in the Breeders Stakes at Te Aroha next time provided she races up to her best here. Thee Auld Floozie is not well off in the weights with 58kg this time, but I suppose she earned it in the Thorndon."

Rising Shot comes into the Westbury Classic fresh from having not raced since her fourth to Ruud Not To at Ellerslie on January 1, a condition she should enjoy. Another fresh runner is Mime, who will not at all mind the wet conditions.

She races best when on the fresh side and is right up to the best classes.

Trainer Allan Sharrock is hoping class alone will carry class act Kawi through in the Bonecrusher Stakes. "We all know he's better on a decent surface, but I'm hoping he'll get through these conditions, which won't be bottomless even if it's heavy."

Those likely to manage the conditions well in the group one are Authentic Paddy, Maygrove, Von Tunzelman and Sofia Rosa. Consensus is another.

Trainer Stephen McKee mirrors the expectations of the connections of rival 2-year-olds in the $200,000 Sistema Stakes when he says he has no idea how his pair Hasahalo and Star Treasure will manage if the track is heavy.

"The trainers of all the 2-year-olds running at this time of year are in the same boat because hardly any of these horses have experience on rain-affected tracks.

"Hasahalo has a terrific finish on her on good ground, but will she do it in the wet? She has quite a short, choppy stride, so perhaps she will. Star Treasure is a much longer striding type and if the track is testing that's likely to shorten him [stride] up."