If there is a distinguishing feature separating Australian and New Zealand punters it's that the Aussies will regularly take short odds if totally convinced a horse is a winner.
As they had previously, punters queued up last week to back Winx at odds of between $1.05 and $1.09. Kiwis, without an alternative, would have bypassed the tote and headed to the bar to watch on television.
There will be an aversion even to taking the $2 the TAB were yesterday offering about Lizzie L'Amour to win tomorrow's $200,000 Group 1 Bonecrusher Stakes at Ellerslie.
It's the best odds you'll get on any horse this week.
If trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman had a dream three weeks ago of what the ideal scenario would be for Lizzie L'Amour for her next race appearance it would have been a Group 1 on a decent track and the No 1 barrier.
Wake from the dream — that's what transpires tomorrow. Lizzie L'Amour narrowly won this race last year from Benzini and you could argue she is now in career best form. She won an identical race to this, the $400,000 Herbie Dyke Stakes at Te Rapa, and for this she has been freshened, a state in which she produces her best. From the No 1 gate she will race right behind the pace and can even lead if circumstances suit.
If you're looking for a negative, there does not appear to be one.
A cross reference of the odds can be gauged by the $7.50 being offered for Marton visitor Darscape Princess. This is a class mare on the rise, but boy, is she up against it in this race. She is coming off a win in R85 grade straight into Group 1 weight-for-age and although she won the Wairarapa Breeders Stakes two back it was hardly this grade.
She will carry the same 57kg as Lizzie L'Amour and if this were a handicap she would be in receipt of something like 8kg from the favourite.
As important as the above is, it does not rate against the barrier draws — No 1 versus No 11. In the top grades the 2000m start at Ellerslie is super sensitive to gate positions. The risk of being caught wide up the sharp rise and equally tight bend out of the home straight is huge from an outside barrier.
Which means Australian-based former South Island jockey Damian Browne has options to risk being caught wide or drop back to last early. With Lizzie L'Amour in the first three in running either option is dangerous. Reverse the barriers and the odds would be close — as the barriers stand if Darscape Princess is a genuine $7.50 hope, Lizzie L'Amour should be around $1.35.
Darscape Princess is a terrific mare who will be capable of winning at the premier level — but it will be a major surprise if it's tomorrow.
The likelihood is Lizzie L'Amour's stablemate St Emilion will lead with the favourite on his back. St Emilion was brave winning here under 60kg topweight over 1500m last start and will now be ready for this 2000m.
He does not concede easily and will be in the fight for a long way down the home straight. Three-time Group 1 winner Start Wondering will create huge interest. This is his first middle distance run and the No 5 barrier should allow him the economical trip he will need. If he relaxes nicely don't be surprised if he's poking his nose in at the 250m.
The Sistema Stakes, the Group 1 for the babies, is an intriguing race because there are no realistic form lines linking the three favourites Melt ($2.90), Sword Of Osman ($3.20) and Avantage ($3.50).
Melt has not raced either and although Sword Of Osman ran up against Avantage, that was in the Karaka Million, which was only the second time he'd stepped onto a racecourse outside trackwork. He brilliantly won his debut run at Manawatu and showed the benefit of his run in the Karaka Million by leaving a useful field in his wake at Matamata last time.
Publicly at least, Melt's trainer Nigel Tiley leans more to caution than confidence, but he has declared he is confident Melt is the horse to beat.
It would not make sense to not take advantage of Sword Of Osman's No 1 barrier. He is a natural runner who will almost certainly lead and will take plenty of picking up from the 150m.
No surprise Allan Sharrock's Taranaki visitor Ladies First is favourite for the $500,000 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup after her game win last Saturday. She drops from 58kg in that to 54kg here and 3200m races are where weight matters most. She is at $4.50. Charles Road comes in at $6.50 and Magic Chai at $8.50.