One of the training stars of the New Zealand thoroughbred season has a warning for punters at Te Rapa today.
Although Allan Sharrock is adamant Justaskme can win a major race this winter, he doesn't think he will justify favouritism in the feature sprint today.
The Taranaki sprinter has been a revelation this season, emerging from obscurity to be the favourite for next month's Winter Cup at Riccarton.
After a string of wins preceded a spell, Justaskme returned with a booming late run for third last start but Sharrock, himself having a career-best run, suggests today's 1200m of race five at Te Rapa is still too short.
"He is a good horse but we have set him for the Winter Cup as his big aim," Sharrock told the Weekend Herald.
"So he is still very much working his way back to peak fitness, and because of that, a few here on Saturday may be too sharp for him over 1200m this week. I can see him getting a little bit too far back to win but improving with this and being better for the Opunake Cup here in a few weeks and then again for Riccarton.
"You never want to think you can't win and he does have real talent but I think he is too short at the odds."
The main sprint today then becomes a puzzle, with Dawn Patrol fresh and carrying the topweight and then the next three horses claiming, leaving punters to work out what is more important, a leading jockey or weight relief on a winter track.
The horse with a light weight and a claimer is the much improved Palm Springs, who after winning three of her last four, gets in-form apprentice Joe Kamaruddin, whose 3kg claim is gold the way he is riding.
Earlier in the Te Rapa card, Sharrock has last-start juvenile winner Catsacharmer trekking north after an 800m debut win at Otaki and she gets top hoop Danielle Johnson.
"It is hard to line up the form when they win an 800m juvenile race, but I like her enough, and with Danielle on from a good draw, she has to be a hope."
While Sharrock will provide two favourites at Te Rapa, he suggests that Butler in race two at today's other domestic galloping meeting at Awapuni is his best winning chance for the day.
"I think he is in the right form and in the right race, so he is my best chance for the weekend."
● While harness racing is relatively quiet in New Zealand at this time of the year there is still Kiwi interest in the A$250,000 Rising Sun at Albion Park in Brisbane tonight.
Three pacers who has won Group1 races in New Zealand this season, Krug, Amazing Dream and Copy That, will take on the Aussies headlined by Expensive Ego in the new Albion Park race which is a rarity in that is combines 3 and 4-year-olds over the 2138m.
The start in Brisbane will be crucial with Krug's trainer Cran Dalgety suggesting he would like to see his 3-year-old in front, from where he won the Northern and NZ derbies but any early pressure will set the race up for the 4-year-olds.