Rondinella may have found the perfect race in which to break her group one drought at Otaki today.

The $200,000 Haunui Farm Classic not only looks ideal for the Cambridge mare on the counts of class, distance at this stage at her preparation and track conditions but because of its sponsor.

Because Rondinella is co-owned by Haunui, the enormously-respected stud farm run in South Auckland by the Chitty family, so boss Mark Chitty could end up presenting today's trophy to himself.

It won't quite be that easy as there are a number of high quality gallopers between Rondinella and the winner's circle, horses who have won a group one, which of course she hasn't.


But she has the career record of a horse who should have won one by now, having raced at an unusually high level for an 18-start winner of just four races, especially in this country.

Not only did she finished third to Melody Belle and Danzdanzdance in New Zealand's race of the season last term, the Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes at Ellerslie, but she went on to run third in the Tancred and fourth in the Sydney Cup.

Those races ranged from 2000m to 3200m so it would be easy to think today's 1600m might prove a little sharp for Rondinella but she was a luckless second in the group two Stocks Stakes over 1600m at The Valley fresh up this season and second again in the group three Ladies Day Vase over 1600m at Caulfield.

Co-trainer Roger James admits Rondinella has been aimed at the Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes over 200m in two weeks again but is quietly confident today could be her race.

"I think the 1600 at this stage of her prep suits, especially if the track stays in that soft range," says James, who trains the mare in partnership with Robert Wellwood.

"She was really good when third fresh up over 1400m on Karaka Million night and has had a month between runs so the 1600m is ideal, especially if it becomes a 1:36-1:37 type race."

The small field should also help while some of her key rivals have question marks over either the potential soft track or the 1600m, most notably Avantage in the latter category.

Obviously there is no doubting the class of the Telegraph winner but Avantage has no form past 1400m so the more testing the 1600m becomes today the more questions it will ask of her stamina.


She is, for all her sprinting brilliance, out of a Zabeel mare though so she has at least some help on her dam's side as she tries to add a new string to her bow today.

Avantage's stablemate Pris De Der has been the best backed today and ticks a lot of boxes for this type of race, apart from the fact he also hasn't won a group one and unlike Rondinella hasn't excelled at that level yet.

Add in hard-running horses such as The Mitigator and Shadow's Cast, the raw class of The Chosen One and the enormous promise of Germanicus and whoever gets the group one today is going to earn it.

While James couldn't be happier with Rondinella, he is more than thrilled with next week's massive Vodafone Derby chance Two Illicit.

She has done everything perfectly since destroying her Waikato Guineas rivals two weeks ago and next Saturday's classic at Ellerslie can't come quick enough.

Today's big races

●2.10pm: $70,000 Waikato Stud Slipper, Matamata.

●3.55pm: $100,000 J Swap Matamata Breeders, Matamata.

●4.14pm: $200,000 Haunui Farm Classic, Otaki.

●5.30pm: A$500,000 Futurity featuring Melody Belle, Caulfield.

●6.10pm: A$1.5 million Blue Diamond, Caulfield.