There seems little reason Harvey Wilson and his former English jockey Will Gordon can't continue the rout they created on the first day of the Waikato jumps carnival — at least in the Porritt Sand Waikato Hurdles for It's A Wonder, says Gordon.
The Cambridge-based rider won on the Harvey Wilson-trained It's A Wonder and Justa Charlie two weeks ago and they match up again for even tougher tests tomorrow, but Gordon believes both will be improved from their last runs.
"They won well and I thought both would come up better with this two races."
Punters at the TAB seem to agree with Gordon because the stylish jumper opened in the Final Field market as $2.70 favourite.
The betting is interesting. The TAB has rising 12-year-old Sea King up as second favourite at $3.20.
You can never count out Sea King — he has picked up $750,000, mostly over fences and he has a magnificent Te Rapa record.
He wasn't seen at his best this time last year when he was pulled up on this day when he uncharacteristically hung badly throughout the race. Previously he'd won the Waikato Hurdles and Waikato Steeples in different years.
Gordon does not expect the additional distance will trouble It's A Wonder.
"There's improvement in him and the slight step up in trip will, if anything, be a help. He will be hard to head off again.
"There will be pace in the race and he will probably race a bit handier. He was very comfortable on the track that day and even if there is more rain this time it won't worry him. He's pretty tough and will fight all day as he showed last time."
With rain predicted the early fourth favourite Danza Lad ($5.50) will be well suited.
Gordon is less delighted about the prospect of a wetter track for Justa Charlie in the Signature Homes Waikato Steeplechase. "The nice footing two weeks ago suited him perfectly. This time I wouldn't like to see it worse much worse than a Dead 6."
At least much of the steeplechase course is generally in fair shape under heavy rain.
"It's a slightly stronger field and it's only his third start over the biggest fences, but there's some improvement."
Max, who has a great record in steeplechases, is the early favourite at $4. He has won three of his six starts and been placed in another.
Gordon also has a good chance of starting his day on a top note with the Kevin Myers-trained Napoleon in the Garrard's Horse and Hound Maiden Hurdles.
They finished runner-up last time out at Wanganui in the Shinko King gelding's jumping debut.
"I liked him the first time I sat on him, it was a bit of a muddling run race and didn't suit him, but he ran home really well," Gordon said.
"He'll learn a lot and running second to Wise Men Say isn't the worst form."
- additional reporting NZ Racing Desk