A little more luck and fewer opposition could be the key to success for Captain Todd at Riccarton today.
The Tarsha and Michael Stokes-trained performer has endured three luckless runs this campaign but still showed he will be more than competitive when things go his way.
The six-year-old Captain Rio gelding meets a seven-horse field over 1600m on the roomy Riccarton track - a recipe which looks right to his liking.
"It's going to be his best chance [for victory] that's for sure," Michael Stokes said.
"In saying that though, drawing No 1 was probably the only draw we didn't want, but at least with a small field he can still get back and not be too far off them.
"All his runs this time in have been really good, even in the Couplands Mile. I thought he was still running on well."
Captain Todd will be ridden by apprentice Matt Cropp who is fast establishing himself as more than just a jumps jockey who rides the odd race on the flat.
"He's riding really well and it comes down to the fact he's getting the chances up north too.
"A guy like Kevin Gray [Palmerston North trainer] giving him a good go has helped his riding, and because he [Cropp] is a jumps jockey he rides really long and is so relaxed which makes him a great rider for horses racing over a mile," Stokes said.
Stokes and Cropp will combine later in the day with another cracking chance in Stingray who backed up some solid support during New Zealand Cup week to win impressively.
The six-year-old gelding will drop back from 2500m to 1800m today, but Stokes can't see it being too much of a problem.
"He's got a sweet draw [two] and is in form, so he has to be a good chance again."
Outside their two leading chances, the Waikuku Beach barn looks to hold some key players in other races.
Lightning Lucy and Bella Vi will compete against each other in the opening event and their trainer wasn't prepared to split them.
"I think Bella Vi has a bit of a future and we might see some good things from her over Christmas and New Year, but Lightning Lucy has finally got a decent draw and is easily good enough to win. "I can't split them - both are great chances."
The Stokes team is rounded out by Torque It Up in the last race and a winning finale for the stable would not surprise.
In-form apprentice Ashley Frye takes the mount.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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