The big wet has robbed today's Matamata Cup meeting of three of its biggest names and left trainer Roger James with a headache.

Because James and training partner Robert Wellwood now need to find a suitable race for Concert Hall after the Matamata track came up a heavy10 yesterday and saw the favourite scratched from today's $50,000 feature mile.

Concert Hall isn't the only favoured runner missing today, with both Equinox and Double Impact out of the three-year-old race, while the trainers of several other key runners were waiting until this morning before pulling the pin unless the track shows surprise improvement.

"We are actually waiting to the morning to scratch, just in case something miraculous happens but I can't see that being the case," said James of Concert Hall.


"So she will have to come out as much as we really want to run her.

"This race was perfect, 1600m as a lead-up race to bring her on for the Counties Cup next month but, looking at the calendar, we might have to drop her back to 1400m to get another run into her soon.

"That is less than ideal but after how she struggled on a heavy track at Ellerslie two starts ago there is no point going around unless it improves, which is almost certainly won't."

With Mongolianconqueror already out of today's Cup and Concert Hall the $4.80 favourite last night the market re-shaping could even see Winter Cup winner Dez go close to starting favourite in his first ever visit north. The big horse has never raced north of Taupo and trainer Simon Wilson has rarely campaigned horses north of the Central Districts.

"I had a horse win at Rotorua once and a jumper race at Te Aroha but we don't get up that way very often," said Wilson.

"But this looks a good race for him. Obviously he can handle wet tracks and he seems very well."

Dez finds himself well up in the weights at 59.5kgs, getting just 0.5kgs from a Derby winner in Vin De Dance but he is a proven winter miler whose last-start third in the Metric Mile at Awapuni suggests his travels to Riccarton haven't taken much toll.

While the Matamata Cup now has a very open look the scratchings in the three-year-old race (race three) have produced an even money favourite in local Harlech.


He was impressive winning here last start and still holds a nomination for the 2000 Guineas and the wet track won't be an issue.

Harlech not only won on a slow7 last start but is a brother to one of the wet weather finds of the winter in Obsessive, with their ability to handle heavy tracks in stark contrast to their high-class dam Obsession.

Obsession won a Westbury Classic but couldn't gallop a yard on anything but a firm surface.

Harlech's stablemate Pinmedown is another with heavy track form when she resumes in a very strong rating82 (race five) today.

Good enough to win the Eight Carat Classic at Ellerslie on a heavy10 last Boxing Day, Pinmedown also won the Sunline Vase in March and while she hasn't trialled in the lead-up to today she might be able to get away with that over 1200m.

The race could also sees the return to New Zealand of one of our best three-year-old fillies from early last season in Melt, now back with original trainer Nigel Tiley.

Good enough to beat Madison County in the Northland Breeders Stakes last spring Melt didn't race up to her best when transferred to New South Wales last year.

But she would add some class to today's meeting if she starts, with the heavy track again bringing that into question.

Today's key races

2.24pm: $40,000 Egmont Cup, Hawera

3.19pm: $50,000 Wealleans Matamata Cup, Matamata.

3.35pm: $75,000 Rich Hill Stud Breeders Stakes, Hawera.

4.35pm: A$400,000 Herbert Power Stakes, Caulfield.

6.50pm: A$1 million Spring Champion Stakes, Randwick.

7.10pm: A$500,000 Toorak Handicap, Caulfield.