It has absolutely nothing to do with punting, but you have to ask the question of how much more will Volpe Veloce be worth as a broodmare if she wins today's $250,000 Berkett Telegraph at Trentham.
Plenty. She's already a multimillion-dollar mare.
And she can. Many will be thinking that any further rain - which now seems less than likely - would favour Volpe Veloce over one of the huge dangers in Kawi, but rain almost always negates class and this column is happy to stay with Volpe Veloce on a track heading back to close to ideal.
Trainer Graham Richardson, one of racing's most agreeable, but with a healthy cynical streak, is absolutely delighted how Volpe Veloce has come through her tough Railway win at Ellerslie. "From the day after the race she has been in top shape. It's quite remarkable how she's breezed through a Group 1 race so well and she's very fit and healthy going into this race."
Despite the dogleg configuration, horses can be unlucky in Telegraphs because a lot is at stake and jockeys ride tight, so Volpe Veloce's No 3 inside barrier is not the blessing it appears on paper. You need luck in any horse race and it will be a definite factor today.
Class comes through in Group racing and Kawi is a class act. Even with 59kg topweight he is going to be a factor if Jason Waddell has him in the clear and ready to challenge at the 300m.
Huge depth to this field. One that needs attention is Packing Eagle, who chased Volpe Veloce home in the Railway and Trudy Thornton declared the wet track is what beat them. Heroic Valour is another provided the track is pretty good. Same for Sacred Star.
Most of us would like to see Brian and Shane Anderton win the $250,000 Wellington Cup with Patrick Erin, but that comes from emotion and the graveyard is full of those who bet from emotion. It comes down to statistics and they tell you his 59kg clear topweight will make it close enough to impossible. From a personal judgement point of view he raced very keenly mid stages of a recent race and if he does that at 3200m here he'll be lucky to finish in the first half of the field. Relaxation is the key to trying to run 3200m.
He gives 4.5kg and 5.5kg to the next two in the handicap and 6kg to the remainder. The Fixed Odds $8 looked okay a week or so ago, but the $4.50 yesterday is too light when what he faces is weighed up.
Highlad (No8, R9) is one of those getting 6kg. We are talking here about a horse that has finished mid-field in a Victoria Derby and been placed in Listed Stakes company at Flemington. Patrick Erin has not previously been out of the South Island. Although previously known to handle "off" tracks, Highlad was not happy on the wet track for the Avondale Cup at Ellerslie. He has had a nice preparation.
Clarify (No5) jumps up in class compared to his overall schedule, but his Manawatu Cup win showed he is well able in the top grades. He was last early, worked almost the entire way down the back straight and top bend to get around the field, and did remarkably well to hold on to win. He may have to do something similar from a wide gate this time, but deserves to be rated a winning hope.
Magic Chai (No9) and Alinko Prince (No6), with Danielle Johnson aboard, should be somewhere in the call.
There is enormous hype around the Telegraph and the Harcourts Thorndon Mile has as much firepower. The interest centres around Love Affair (No11, R5) and Hiflyer (No1) and that may well be the way it pans out. Love Affair is our tip, not only because of her 53kg, although that will be an enormous advantage, but because of her fabulous second against the run of play in the Cal Isuzu Stakes at Te Rapa at her second start back this preparation. That was a significantly better run than her fresh-up victory, and that was smart enough.
She is a very lightly framed mare and has been kept fresh since the Te Rapa run. For one who carries so little condition, she is powerful at the end of her races and Trentham should be ideal for her.
Forget Hiflyer went around when eighth in the Group 1 Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie. He was not ideally suited stepping up to 2000m and could not have been in it anyway as no back runner was a chance in the sit-and-sprint race. The 1600m at Trentham is much more his comfort zone and he can produce a powerhouse finish, which even his 57kg may not be enough to stop. Splurge (No2) is classy and should get the perfect drop on the leaders from a lovely gate and Savile Row (No5) showed what he can do when he flashed home to win fresh at Ellerslie. This column hates this phrase, but here it's appropriate - Stolen Dance (No10) is the forgotten horse. She was terrific in the Cal Isuzu, disadvantaged in the Zabeel Class (but still raced well) and comes in here with 53kg. Don't leave her out of multiples.
On a magnificent card, the Desert Gold Stakes provides yet another highlight. These races are generally dominated by fillies that have been winning through the spring and summer with plenty of experience behind them. This may be the opposite with Rondinella (No13) a veteran of just two races and Milseain (No11), with just her debut run behind her, making a lot of appeal.
Rondinella could not have been more impressive working away from the opposition in her Tauranga maiden victory and from her nice barrier can give the more experienced fillies something to beat.
Milseain can only get better.
The sister to outstanding stayer Werther won a barrier trial like a coming star and backed it up by overcoming difficulties to win on debut at Hastings.
The Baker/Forsman stable would not have stepped her up this quickly if the partners did not think she was up to it.
Insight (No10) and Dijon Bleu (No1) have real claims.