Yes, two venues to sort a New Zealand winner out in Australia this weekend, and that was without Moonee Valley last night.

If there is one chance that stands out it's Cambridge stayer Chocante in the A$750,000 Metropolitan at Randwick this afternoon.

There were a few startled eyes when the TABs on both sides of the Tasman opened Chocante up at $12 and $3.30 on Thursday, but quick business late yesterday had the talented galloper into $9.50.

Given his overall form, Chocante still looks value at that reduced quote. Forget he went around last start in the Kingston Town Stakes in which he carried useful support, but was not given a chance to justify it. This column is not quick to bag jockeys, like racing tipsters, motorists, politicians - yes despite what they tell you - jockeys make mistakes and Blake Shinn, generally bombproof, sure made one on Chocante.


Shinn had the New Zealander in the perfect one-by-one slot on a horse who can sprint 200m quickly, so staying where he was at the 700m was critical. No, he sprinted Chocante quickly around the leaders to be in front before the home turn.

Trainer Stephen March couldn't believe the official sectionals that showed Chocante to have covered the 600m from the 800m to the 200m in better than 35 seconds. Game over, Chocante couldn't possibly keep going and dropped away late.

The interesting replacement (no, Shinn cannot make the 54.4kg) is Corey Brown, who rode Chocante's sire Shocking to win the Melbourne Cup.

Favourite for this race is the Chris Waller-trained Libran, winner of the Kingston Town. The difference here though will be twofold, Chocante will be better ridden this time and drops from the 57kg he also carried last time to 54.5kg, a beautiful weight advantage over what will be a tough 2400m.

This race is the perfect example that while Australia has the world's best sprinters, they cannot breed a stayer. Of the 12 Metrop runners, five were bred in Ireland, five in New Zealand and one in France. The sole runner with an Australia tag, Destiny's Kiss, is by a Danehill stallion and the dam is by Stravinsky from Crimson, by Zabeel.

Some will view Bonneval's Dato Tan Chin Nam win at Moonee Valley as soft, given it was against lesser opposition than she meets in tomorrow's A$750,000 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield. But it needs to be remembered she is a long way from being a 1600m galloper, even in the fresh state she appeared for her last run. Hartnell is almost unbackable tomorrow, with Bonneval at $4.80. Hartnell was the $1.70 favourite last time, but had no answer to the almost unstoppable Humidor. He showed his usual fight though and should appreciate the step from 1600m to 1800m.

For all that there was almost an air of vulnerability about him last time. Surely Winx has not broken his heart because, don't forget, without the champ he would be the current unchallenged Aussie champion. Interesting clash and Bonneval each way looks the bet.

Champion trainer Darren Weir says he expects an even better run this time from Black Heart Bart, who will take his earnings beyond A$4m with victory.

The on-fire Busuttin/Young team will pitch the highly promising Wassergeist against the unbeaten Royal Symphony in the A$175,000 Caulfield Guineas Prelude. There will be hope more than confidence here - Royal Symphony's fresh up 1400m last start to overcome shocking luck is the run of the spring this far and may remain that after the carnival.

In the conditions it's difficult to be confident about too much at Ellerslie today. Horses will struggle in the closing stages of most races and any lack of fitness will be exposed. On the basis of an old dog for a tough road, Smedley, despite 60kg topweight, can figure in his favourite conditions in the $35,000 Mitchelson Cup. Mangaroa Flo Jo will also enjoy the track.

Pegasoi looked okay at the trials and is worth including in multiples when on debut in the opener.