Trainer John Bary has an addition to one of racing's oldest sayings and punters should take note before backing the best horse racing at Awapuni tomorrow.
"Everybody in racing knows weight can stop a train," says Bary, "and I think it can even stop a bullet train."
The bullet train in question is Bary's Group 1 winner Callsign Mav and the weight in question is the 63kg he will be asked to carry in the open handicap over 1400m.
Bary doesn't argue with the weight, that is the price for winning a serious Group 1 race in September, and he admits he thought about using a claiming apprentice before booking regular rider Jonathan Riddell.
"I thought about it for like two seconds," says Bary.
"But we have a long-term goal with this horse and that is to teach him to settle so he can become a Group 1 horse at 1600m and eventually, hopefully 2000m.
"That would give us a lot more options next season and Jonathan understands that goal.
"That is another reason we are in this race rather than going to the Telegraph [at Trentham in Wellington] next weekend."
But while he is happy to have his stable star lump the 63kg, he realises it greatly reduces his winning chances.
"Even a horse as good as him, that sort of weight can get to them," says Bary.
"Take a horse like Hartley, who I now think is the horse to beat. He has 54kg but is claiming 3kg, so we are going to [give away] 12kg. You don't often see horses giving away 12kg to horses as good as Hartley and win.
"I'd be surprised if we can beat him."
That is worth punters noting as the TAB bookies opened Callsign Mav the $3.10 favourite, while Hartley was at $3.80. It wouldn't surprise to see those prices a lot closer or even reversed by race start.
Weight will also be a crucial factor for punters in the Marton Cup, where $2.30 favourite Beauden has to carry 60kg and is giving most of his rivals 7kg, but crucially, there are no apprentice claims in that race.
Tomorrow's meeting also sees a good 3-year-old race, the one Probabeel returned in last season before going on to win the Karaka Classic Mile as well as a Group 1 in Australia and the Epsom this season.
Her trainer Jamie Richards also has the favourite today in Supreme Khan, but while his formline looks very sharp, all three of his starts have been in the South Island, so he steps up in grade today, has a big weight and a wide draw.
Decision on Bosson ban
Opie Bosson's army of followers should know by Sunday whether they can load up on him again on Karaka Million night.
Bosson's appeal against the severity of two recent suspensions from riding will be heard at Ellerslie at 9.30am on Sunday, before the races later that day. Bosson was suspended until January 28 for two separate cases of careless riding at Ellerslie on New Year's Day but thinks he has been harshly treated and wants to trim at least three days off his sentences and pay a bigger fine.
If he can get the sentences reduced by three days or more, he will be able to ride at the richest meeting of the season, the Karaka Million, at Ellerslie on January 23. He has ridden the winner of the Karaka Million 2-year-old the past four years.
The market for that Karaka Million has been thrown into confusion by favourite Palamos being withdrawn. He was found to be suffering from minor soreness this week that will stop him making the 1200m super sprint, just a week after the heavily-backed Khufu also missed a spot in the race when well beaten on debut.