The Baker/Forsman stable will have its eyes firmly on the A$1 million Caulfield Stakes in Melbourne today, but Francaletta in the $80,000 Rich Hill Taranaki Breeders Stakes at Hawera is an important engagement.
Francaletta is a talented mare with the odd issues, which have been carefully managed.
With hindsight available, she may not have stepped up to 1600m at Manawatu last start, even though there was good reason for it. The distance on a very testing track was just beyond her level of fitness and she finished fifth, easing back late.
Francaletta drops back to 1400m today and that will suit her perfectly with two races behind her. Plenty of talent to test the Cambridge mare, among them Underthemoonlight, The Auld Floozie and Aide Memoire.
Another smart race mare in Cote D'Or (No7, R6) looks a good chance in the Matamata Cup. She has a remarkably consistent record and although this is a bit of a step up, she looks well placed with just 53kg on her back. Eleonora (No6), like many others, has been held back by the heavy tracks and is not quite as forward as the stable would like, but class will take her a long way. Pacorus (No2) is best known as a stayer, but can run a decent race at 1600m while fresh.
Deals In Heels (No2, R2) looks all class as she makes her way through the grades. The last couple have produced victory and she is beautifully placed to make it three straight. No More Tears (No3) is close to another win and the quinella here looks a decent risk.
Difficult to win the second start after a debut maiden victory, but Te Akau Shock (No2, R3) was so stylish winning at Te Rapa he has to be given a real chance performing on his home track. The way this is run may not suit him quite as well as Te Rapa, but he had to come from last that day. He is one to follow.
Race 4 is very tough, so value is worth looking for. One value runner worth attention is Real Fun (No12), who had only three runs last preparation, but won the first of them and comes in fresh again here.
Quantum (No1, R5) was well beaten last start, but his previous form had been excellent. Pay to forget that run and you can expect something better this time.
Aotearower (No3, R7) has finished out of the money in her last two runs, but they were not bad efforts. She has beaten better fields on her day and she will be very competitive. Crafty Jess (No4) was stylish winning at Manawatu last start and looks capable of progressing up the grades.
The last, Race 8, is very even but an each way chance is Kool Connection (No6). Two back he was beaten by a very heavy Ellerslie track and apart from that he has been fairly consistent.
The A$10m Everest will live up to its hype at Randwick today, but as a punting proposition it is something of a nightmare. So much depends on how the race will be run and the only certainty is that Chautauqua will be back last at some stage of the first 300m. Outside of that almost all of the remainder of the field will be looking for a favourable forward position.
Difficult to see anything but a hard pace as whatever leads looks to protect that spot, but the danger of going crazy up front is setting it up for the remarkable late sprint Chautauqua can produce.
The predicted showers around Sydney will suit Chautauqua and coupled with a fast pace it puts him in the race. The early favourite She Will Reign could be vulnerable and, oddly, her inside No 2 barrier may not be her friend. She is a young filly, just turning three and has to race much older, toughened, hard sprinters. If she jumps and puts herself in the race she will get her chance, but if several horses cross her and she gets boxed away she is very unlikely to survive a bumping contest.
There is no chance of this being run as a gentle contest. On that score anything locked away behind horses early in the home straight will somehow need to get into the clear -- you don't go to the line in a A$10m race under a hard hold.
The safest guess will be it will take a tough horse that can take a bumping and still run home in solid sectionals. Redzel, to be ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, is that type of horse. Redzel each way could be the safest bet in a very unsafe betting competition.
In Her Time (No12, R7) just missed a spot in the Everest and would have been an impossible chance had she got into the race. It therefore makes sense she will be difficult to beat in the consolation, Race 7, the Sydney Stakes. She was good enough to sit parked three wide without cover in the Stradbroke in Queensland during the winter and kick on to be beaten a long neck. She and Corey Brown look the best bet on the programme.
Don't be surprised if Corey Brown gets New Zealand's Chocante home in the St Leger at Randwick. His was a great third last start and this is fractionally easier.
Super New Zealand mare Bonneval is a deserved favourite for the A$1m Caulfield Stakes. The reasonably compact field will suit her and although she has a wide draw, rider Damian Lane has a head much more astute than his years would indicate.