If you were one of the punters burned when Millie Sampson wrecked her picket fence formline last start, don't let the talented filly go round at Auckland tonight without your money on again.
Trainer John Dickie revealed it was just a little flick of the head before the start that ended Millie's unbeaten streak in the Ladyship Stakes two weeks ago.
And with a gear change and just a little bit of luck from a tricky inside second-row draw tonight, Millie can find her way into the winner's circle after the Majestic Pace.
Millie Sampson was scoring up behind the gate last time when she threw her head in the air, became unbalanced, and lost a shoe.
Under normal circumstances, that might not have been a game changer but Millie has very flat feet and wears shoes elevated by two per cent in front.
Had Millie been wearing a pole, she might still have got away with the impediment, but after trialling brilliantly without one, Dickie left it off that night.
"She was high on one side and low on the other and was trying to run out the whole way. All her weight was going on the foot with no shoe on," Dickie said.
Not surprisingly, in a hot field, Millie did not kick on in the bulldozing style which had been a trademark of her previous three starts.
"She's not a silly horse, she's just so laid back she mucks around and she just has this habit of flicking her head up. She does it even on the lead on the way to her paddock."
Dickie has reinstated the pole tonight and says that will help keep her head in check.
It will then come down to Millie hopefully having learned enough from being in the field last time, an experience she was lacking after having had too much speed for most of her rivals in her races and trials.
"She doesn't know a lot yet," Dickie said. "When you're in front off the gate you don't learn much, so I suppose being on the second row is a bit of a worry.
"But her work has been good and hopefully I can get her going right this time."
Dickie said Millie Sampson was being aimed at the $160,000 Sires' Stakes Fillies Championship on New Year's Eve, when she would have to be on top of her game.
The filly was ineligible to contest tonight's final Sires' Stakes heat as the winner of an earlier heat, at Cambridge in October when she clocked a mile rate of 1:56.1 in beating Pricilla's Girl and Lincoln's Megastar.
But her ability was well known by then - in her debut she clocked the terrific time of 2:42.6 for 2200 metres at Alexandra Park.
Another top filly who isn't contesting the Sires' Stakes heat tonight is Tony Herlihy's Snooki, who will go round a white hot favourite in the Hydroflow Pace earlier in the night.
As a two-race winner against maidens, Snooki would be an automatic favourite anyway, but the quality of her performances last season will see her start at very restrictive odds.
The Bettor's Delight filly, who ran second in a Young Guns heat and the Final, has just one glitch in her form, when she was knocked out at the start of the Harness Jewels at Ashburton in June.
She has been tuned up with two workout wins and looks unbeatable from gate three.
Punters looking for better value could do worse than spare a dollar for Dickie's seemingly out-of-form trotter Flying Isa in the Jacobsen Trot.
The former age-group star showed nothing in four starts on a southern campaign, but never recovered from undiagnosed travel sickness.
"We didn't know he had it when he raced and that can knock a horse around. He still wasn't right when he got back here to Clevedon. I wouldn't say he's 100 percent yet but he's a lot better."
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