Waikato Cup and Cal Isuzu Stakes make for some shrewd punting.

Punting is a numbers game at Te Rapa today.

The main numbers here are the ratings points allocated to two leading chances in each of the feature races.

First let's assess the group three SkyCity Hamilton Waikato Cup.

Igraine was a brilliant winner of the main leadup race, the group three Counties Cup (2100m) at Pukekohe last month.


Given the run of the race by reigning champion jockey Sam Collett, Igraine took up the lead soon after turning for home, got in a brief dogfight with eventual runner-up Mongolian Marshal then asserted her superiority over the closing 200m.

In a race where only two of the first six in running - Igraine and Mongolian Marshal - managed to finish in the first nine horses home, Igraine's performance was supreme.

The exquisitely-bred German imported daughter of champion sire Galileo recorded the quickest last 600m of the race, running that section of Cup nearly three lengths faster than Mongolian Marshal and a length faster than the eye-catching late bounds of third-placed Blue Breeze, who recorded the second-fastest split for that portion of the race.

But now the important numbers.

Igraine went into the Counties Cup rated on 81 points, the measure of how the handicapper rates her ability. She was 20 points below Counties Cup topweight Five To Midnight or in terms of weight rated 12kg inferior - the handicap system uses a point as equal to half a kilogram and then mares get another 2kg from their male counterparts.

The minimum weight any horse could carry in the Counties Cup was 53kg, the weight Igraine carried to her 2 3/4-length victory. It was always likely that most of the Counties Cup field would tackle the Waikato Cup and eight of the 14 runners at Pukekohe make up the nine-strong field for the Te Rapa staying feature.

Under normal practice, Igraine would get penalised rating points to take her to the minimum weight of the Counties Cup then a further discretionary penalty based on the quality of her win. But she was only penalised the 10 points to get her to the true minimum of the Counties Cup and consequently meets Counties Cup topweight Five To Midnight, who dropped a point for his eighth placing, beaten more than 13 lengths, just half a kilogram worse today.

Mongolian Marshal was penalised a point for his second placing so meets Igraine on level weights today. The upshot for connections of Igraine is that she's thrown in. She towelled up the Counties Cup field last time and today meets them again at almost identical weights - in a handicap!

She is a short-priced $2.20 favourite with TAB bookmakers but as a ratings and weight special, that has to be an attractive price.

Another interesting numbers take is in the group two Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m).

This is a weight-for-age race for fillies and mares, like most years just attracting mares today.

The conditions mean the best mares, the ones who have earned the highest ratings, come in well against their lower-rated rivals.

Weight-for-age racing doesn't require the handicapper to allocate weights in order to produce a theoretical even chance for every runner in the race.

Lizzie L'Amour is a two-time group one winner, though both her elite-level wins have come at 2000m.

But she has compelling numbers to back up her case. She won this race last year at the distance and has won four of her five starts at Te Rapa, having won the Waikato Cup in 2016 as well.

Her stablemates Love Affair and Nicoletta are both rated just one point less on 100, Nicoletta having twice placed at group one level and won twice at group three level, in the Gold Trail Stakes (1600m) as a three-year-old and in the Taranaki Breeders Stakes (1400m) at Hawera in October.

Love Affair claimed her first stakes win last start in the group three Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie, taking her record to six wins from 12 starts. She finished second-last at her only start at group one level, in last year's Thorndon Mile at Trentham.

In terms of career achievements, Lizzie L'Amour has a clear edge and Matthew Cameron, who rode Love Affair to win last start, has plumped for her as his mount.

But on ratings, Love Affair might be expected to upstage Lizzie L'Amour.

Love Affair pushed her rival to half a length in the same race last year when the pair were rated 82 and 100. This year 100 and 101, a whole heaps closer.

Love Affair is rated 8.5kg better than she was this time last year.

Love Affair started favourite last year under Patrick Moloney, a late replacement for Opie Bosson, who was having weight issues at the time.

She settled back in ninth spot and made up many lengths but couldn't reel in Lizzie L'Amour, who sat outside the leader in a race in which of the first six in running, five filled top six finishing positions - an on-pace domination.

So the numbers lead for Te Rapa is Igraine and Love Affair, while others more speculatively volunteered are Fiscal Fantasy at the shorts in the first, Belle Fascino in the last and a two-bet group three J Swap Contractors Sprint approach of Stratocaster and Magnum.