Volpe Veloce has practically all the qualities of a topliner, but one more than the others stands out — finding a way to win when she can't win.
That is an absolute requirement for outstanding thoroughbreds.
We saw it a number of times as a 3-year-old last season and she produced it again in both her wins at her last two starts. It looked impossible for her to get there two back at Ellerslie, but get there she did.
And in the Group 1 Railway last start the cheering from her large syndicate of owners in the stand didn't start until the last 100m. It wasn't just the ground she had to make up to win the Railway, the rain-affected track was always going to be against her. She overcame both.
So, what can we look at to beat her in tomorrow's $250,000 Berkett Telegraph at Trentham? Well, the 2kg increase in the handicap from the Railway is significant for a 4-year-old mare, but oddly, the good barrier — No 3 — could be the biggest danger of all.
The way Volpe Veloce races, being close to the outer and therefore with clear air ahead, is critical. In a field of this quality most of the field will stay into the party until the 200m, meaning there will be a decent bunch to get around or through from halfway down the home straight.
The inside gate could have her jammed in behind horses late in the race. It will be up to Jake Bayliss to carefully manage that issue and work her into the clear.
If he can do that his job will be over and it will be over to Volpe Veloce's magnificent determination to get to the line first — something she does beautifully.
Stats can at times be misleading, but mostly they are determining factors. You can't ague with Kawi's race record when produced in a fresh state. They read: 2-1-1-2-5-1-1-3-1 when he has had two months or more between starts.
Importantly, the 5th and the 3rd were both the results of very wet tracks, which Kawi has no liking for.
The 1200m is not Kawi's pet distance, 1400m-1600m is his comfort zone, but Telegraphs are run so hard it invariably races more like a 1400m event.
The No 6 barrier is probably perfect and no one is riding better right now than Jason Waddell.
One factor that would swing things Volpe Veloce's way ahead of Kawi would be if the track cut up.
If the lurking rain arrived at Trentham today or tomorrow, Volpe Veloce will manage better than Kawi.
Trudy Thornton jumped off Packing Eagle after finishing second to Volpe Veloce in the Railway and said if the track had been dry the result would have been reversed.
Thornton is not demonstrative about results so, on a decent surface, Packing Eagle has to be respected. The market at the TAB as it stood late yesterday is $4 Volpe Veloce, $6.20 Kawi, $6.50 Packing Eagle, Heroic Valour, $7.20 Start Wondering, $13 Sacred Star.
Otago-trained Patrick Erin is a class stayer, but you could put a question mark over whether he is good enough to lump 59kg clear topweight over 3200m and win the $250,000 Wallaceville Estate Castletown Wellington Cup.
The further the distance the more weight becomes a factor and Patrick Erin has 4.5kg and more ahead of the entire field. He has been winning his races in great style down south but, even though this is hardly a vintage Wellington Cup field it is still the best he has met.
Highlad is an interesting Cup runner. He had a reputation as a mudder with a record of three wins from six starts on slow tracks and a win from two starts in the heavy.
Opposing that is that two back he won on a firm surface at Te Rapa and it is felt he struggled with the rain-affected ground in the Avondale Cup at Ellerslie.
If it is true he has changed his preference, you have to allow him a decent chance here with just 53kg on his back and a good barrier to jump from. He should get his chance. He looks a decent each way risk at $9.80 and $3.30.
Clarify is in career best form and also looks well placed with 53kg compared to some of the weights he has been carrying. He has an awkward barrier to overcome.