If Gingernuts is a live chance in today's A$2m Australian Derby then Charles Road has to be difficult to beat in the $70,000 Manawatu Classic at Awapuni today.

He was sixth behind Gingernuts in the $1m Vodafone Derby and finished second to him previously in the Avondale Guineas.

This is one start beyond Charles Road's grand final, but if he is close to his best he should have an edge on most in this race.

The $225,000 Sires Produce has pulled a grand field and the result will come down to what can handle the rain-affected track. Summer Monsoon (No2, R6) is one who should. His second to eventual Sistema Stakes winner Summer Passage at Matamata was a great lead into this.


Co-trainer Stephen Autridge liked his gallop at Matamata last Saturday and with Jason Waddell aboard he will get every chance. To name all the dangers would take this entire page, but Melody Belle (No7), Star Treasure (No2), Irish Flame (No5) and Belle Du Nord (No12) are among them.

El Pescado (No4, R7) has extraordinary ability and also a very good record when fresh. He is not the most sound horse around and Stu Manning is likely to have him very ready to go close first time. He is another of Jason Waddell's mounts.

Maygrove (No2, R8) should be ready after two preparatory run to produce his best again. The 57kg over 2000m should suit him ideally and so will the state of the track. Scapolo (No3) looked huge flashing home into second at Tauranga last week and looks the obvious danger.

Blue Lagoon (No10, R9) will be difficult to handle in the last, but don't leave El Disparo (No6) out of all multiple bets. He should be improved for two runs back from a spell.

At Ellerslie, Nothinglefttolose (No7, R1) created an impression when winning at Avondale. If she can handle this slow track as well she should be difficult to hold out.

The same goes for juvenile Qiji Phoenix (No2). He didn't win by much in his Te Rapa debut, but impressed as one to follow.

Tavidream (No1, R3) looks likely to end up in the headlines. He won his only start on a slow surface and although this is likely to be slightly deeper, he rates very highly. Thatsforsure (No7) is the obvious danger, but she might struggle in the conditions. Her best form has been on firm surfaces and a better chance may be Keep On Coming (No5).

Seventh Up (No8, R5) looks one of the better bets of the day. He has won two of his three fresh-up races and has a great record on rain-affected footing. The 54kg also looks a big plus. Amarula (No3) is another good fresh runner.