The best pacer in the country may not be the best bet when the open-class horses make a surprise winter return at Addington tonight.

Because while there is no doubt Self Assured is the most talented horse in the six-horse open handicap pace, these races are often easy on the horses and tough on the punters.

The fact six of the best horses in the country are even contesting a $12,000 standing start in late July is a Covid-19 inspired oddity, with horses of this class usually returning mid-September in recent seasons.

As good as it is to see them back it leaves punters with the puzzle of who is fit enough to win, and traditionally open-class comeback races can come down to standing-start manners and field position.

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We are still three and a half months away from the first really serious prize any of tonight's super six are going to chase, the New Zealand Trotting Cup, so tonight's race could rate more like a $12,000 trial than anything life-changing.

That is so often the case in comeback races where drivers are reluctant to take off mid-race for fear of giving their horse a headache in their first run back.

Often that sees the fields stay in single file for a lap, bunch up at the 1000m and then sizzle home in 55 seconds. That gives a huge advantage to the leader and trailer and means those coming wide can impress without winning.

It means a superstar like Self Assured could even sit last, without a great deal of motivation to take off, and punters could be left fuming.

There are two Robert Dunn-trained runners off the front line and Classie Brigade on the 10m line which he shares with the Purdon-Rasmussen trio of Princess Tiffany, Another Masterpiece and Self Assured.

If any of the Purdon-Rasmussen trio work to the front then maybe Mark Purdon, driving Self Assured, cruises around to get the front and he rolls away to win. Easy money.

But if the Dunn horses lead and trail they might not be so passive and being three back on the outer would be an awfully hard place to win this race from.

Self Assured is a bit special, having won nine of 14 and never being out of the money, and with the right run he wins, but before you go crazy on him remember even Lazarus got beaten in a race similar to this a few years ago.


Which is why the TAB opened Self Assured at $2.70 when he would usually be $2 in this race.

The All Stars return in force tonight and are favourites in almost every race they contest with the exception of the open trot in which exciting three-year-old Cracker Hill heads the market.

* From imminent closure to racing twice in four days.

That is the scarcely believable tale of embattled Auckland club Avondale, who will now host tomorrow's meeting originally set down for Pukekohe.

The Pukekohe Park track was deemed too wet to hold tomorrow's nine-race meeting so it moves to Avondale, who only raced two days ago.

That was also a previously-unscheduled bonus meeting for the club, as is everything these days, after Avondale were initially granted no racing dates for next season and could have faded into history. Instead now they have five.


And they have come to the rescue this time with the rail moved out 8m tomorrow to find new ground after Wednesday's work over.