Racing editor Aidan Rodley assesses the form for Ellerslie on Saturday.
The first is a big even maiden without a standout. FLOREAT DAYS produced a career-best run first-up for second at Te Rapa earlier this month. He draws well and with an economical run, he should be a leading contender. MISS MEENA had raced well before she was stopped in her tracks making a likely looking run along the inside at Pukekohe last week. She has no early speed and is immediately disadvantaged in her races but if they run this hard, she should be running into it. Outside those, consider those with good draws along with key form runners with wide draws, such as CAPTAIN MARVEL, who ran a solid Dargaville second last start beating ENDORSEMENT (sixth), the consistent DUNTOILIN, PORSHABEEL, ASON and WALK THE TIGER. The balloted MANHATTAN MAM is a sibling of December Draw and Appiel with a trial win to her credit ahead of her pending debut.
TOMA VALEA was still a maiden at the start of the season but with four wins and two seconds from his six starts this term, he has become a rapid riser through the grades. He defeated SWEET SUITOR (first vs second) at Te Rapa last start, and with Sweet Suitor going on to place in last Saturday's Listed Counties Bowl, the form is not only franked but Toma Valea also gets to meet his rival 2kg better at the weights. Sweet Suitor should be fitter for his recent racing and rates a danger along with fresh runner CHARMA, who has won and placed in two previous runs fresh and finished fourth in the Gr I Diamond Stakes here in one his only two starts at the track. MR SPOCK, good enough to run sixth in the Gr III Stewards Stakes last season is better than his most recent form and could well bounce back here. UNIVERSAL MUSIC commands respect along with the speedy ISHIGOOD, last-start winners ORIENTAL LAD and TRENDY, while ROUGH ODDS is worth keeping an eye on.
KAHALA has solid claims in the third, despite a wide draw and a 4kg rise in weight before any claim. She has run top-four finishes in her three starts this preparation, finishing fourth at Ellerslie two back, splitting MONARCH (third) and OFFANGONE (ninth). Kahala produced an improved run for third at Tauranga last start, beating Monarch (12th), who got back, drifted on the turn and was out of contention from then, not being ridden out. He is worth a second chance in this field. LUCKY BREAK won well in a big Riccarton field last time and she commands respect here along with last-start Tauranga maiden winner OAK PARK. MUMS APPARITION goes up 2kg after a claim but drops back to a Rating 65 here, having won a Rating 70 four starts back. As it's such an ordinary lineup maiden FANTASTIC TIMES is worth passing consideration also.
The first of the three Dunstan Feeds Championship races is the consolation, an extra put on by the club after entries were so great in the programmed two races. The Matamata pair of YOUREIN and DELAMAN look well placed. Yourein has placed at his last three and returns to a track where he was a stakes winner last term. He was third at Hastings three back, beating GEORGEY AEROPLANE (10th0, who went a fair race, second at Te Rapa, beating a fast-finishing ILKA (third) and STAXA STANIMA (14th), before a last-start Tauranga third a fortnight ago in Rating 80 company. He drops in grade for this and looks hard to bowl. DELAMAN brings a similar formline, also coming in fifth-up after placings at his last three, following his Matamata third three back, with a similar placing at Te Rapa, beating ATLANTIS (12th) and LAST PICASSO (13th), a form race which has stacked up well through the likes of unplaced runners Encosta Larrocha and Ghostinthemachine, before a last-start Northland Cup second, beating Staxa Stanima (sixth), SO REGAL (eighth), VARNISH (11th), LETSPLAYTAG (13th) and MIRROR MIRROR (16th). Ilka has since failed at Te Aroha midweek but was caught wide throughout so is worth forgiving. KEEPHER CLOSE draws wide here but brings placings at her last two as leadup form. She was third midweek at Matamata two back, splitting Last Picasso (winner) and DESIGNACAT (fourth), before a brave second at Te Rapa behind the smart Wisecrack. Last Picasso has tended to mix her form which puts a slight query on Keepher Close's credentials, especially as her last-start second was in a frontrunners' race when she chased home the talented Wisecrack. Don't risk leaving her out of this. SUAZA produced a top run for third against the race pattern and emerging from traffic at Matamata two back, beating DICKENS (12th), and was finding the line late in a weaker Te Teko race last time. She looks promising, and her racing manager Adrian Clark has predicted she is "set to star over ground this summer". Consider Designacat, Staxa Stanima and So Regal, who has side winkers replacing the blinkers, for First4 bets along with promising maiden galloper BRAVE ALI.
The fifth is a slightly weaker field than the fourth but brings together another big, even field of stayers in a competitive affair. MARVON DOWNS has been freshened since a strong late finish for fifth at Te Rapa last month, when beating home HOT PURSUIT (eighth) and STAXA STANIMA (14th). Before that Marvon Downs resumed with a sixth placing at Te Rapa, chasing home PRINCESS KYOTO (second), but beating GOTTINO (seventh) and Hot Pursuit (eighth). He draws well and looks primed for a big run. Hot Pursuit was seventh last time at Tauranga in Rating 80 and will enjoy the drop back in grade, there he still needs to improve on that run to win this. The blinkers go on. Princess Kyoto was scratched from Wednesday to start here. She was a solid fifth at Te Rapa next time up, again beating Gottino (sixth) and ATLANTIS (12th), before failing in the Northland Cup last start at Dargaville. There's not a lot between Gottino and Princess Kyoto, with the pair meeting on similar weight differences here and with Gottino again drawing out and Princess Kyoto again drawing in. The Northland Cup again provides a key formline with CAPISTRANO ANGEL going a top race for third, beating home ALDERNEY (fourth), Staxa Stanima (sixth), SO REGAL (eighth) and Princess Kyoto (15th). It was Capistrano Angel's best run for some time, and the same can be said for Alderney, who has since placed at Te Aroha, beating BOLD RANSOM (fourth). Staxa Stanima was only beaten 3 1/2 lengths when 14th at Te Rapa two back and has upset claims from the ballots along with So Regal and DESIGNACAT. GEORGEY AEROPLANE's form from his last two is sound, while others to consider are KOKANEE GOLD, ASWORTHY, CARNIVA BOY and last start Te Awamutu winner TEMPELTEN, who defeated subsequent Matamata winner Zonza.
The third of the Dunstan Series races is the hottest and on the strength of his runaway last-start Te Rapa success WISECRACK appeals as the horse to beat. He again draws out, which won't make this easy, but he did work at Te Rapa and still ran out a 4 3/4-length winner over TED'LL DO (third) and DESERT LAD (sixth). It became a race to suit those on the speed with Ted'll Do sticking on well from a handy sit. Desert Lad made good ground from worse than midfield. Without claims, Ted'll Do and Desert Lad meet Wisecrack 1.5kg better. At his prior start Wisecrack resumed with a Te Rapa fifth, beating HIACE (eighth), EVEREADY TO DANCE (10th) and PACIFIC ROSE (12th) in a race which has produced fourth subsequent winners. Hiace has since run a solid second at Tauranga, beating home YOUREIN (third). MISS ISLE is an exciting prospect. She put together back-to-back wins, scoring at Te Rapa, beating EL SOLDADO (fourth) and Yourein (eighth), and at Matamata, beating El Soldado (second), who has since won at Te Awamutu. PETERGABRIEL brings solid Melbourne form to this, while RUN TO THE BANK ran well for sixth at Te Rapa last start, beating Eveready To Dance (10th). Consider last-start winner SINGLE MINDED, ARNOLD and the talented ballots Yourein and SUAZA (see race four assessment).
JOY'S CHOICE has gone from strength to strength with top wins in her last couple, and she must have warranted consideration for a shot at the Gr I Levin Classic. She followed a handy Te Rapa maiden win with a last-start Rating 70 win at the same track that was full of merit, beating home the likes of Keenly, Delaman, Encosta Larrocha and Princess Kyoto. She has oodles of potential and gets the bonus of having James McDonald up. CAIPIRINHA settled handy and closed off strongly to just miss winning at Te Rapa last start, beating home NAB THE MOMENT (third), who was carrying 6.5kg less. Nab The Moment came from back in the field against the pattern and with a 2kg claim here would meet Caipirinha at a similar weight advantage. She is still a maiden, but looks a promising one, having beaten several race winners last time. MUSTANG returns from Melbourne and just missing a start in the Gr I Victoria Derby. He ran well in the Geelong Classic there, having closed strongly for two lower grade wins here. The small field helps, though a sit and sprint affair wouldn't. VIRGINIA WADE ran out a smart maiden winner at Te Rapa last time. It was a professional display from a progressive filly. OCEAN PARK won at Gisborne on debut, ORUTAN was successful there last start too and LOST WORK was a maiden winner before a last-start Gr II Wellington Guineas eighth.
The eighth is a weak Rating 65 field. PENTANGO has solid enough claims after fifth placings at Ellerslie and Te Rapa in her last two. MINDY followed a second at Taupo two back, when beating ADHIRA (fourth), with a last-start eighth of nine in the Gr III Sarten Memorial at Te Rapa, chasing home a smart field. She is better placed back in this grade. TEKEELA failed at Matamata last time but had better prior form and has the blinkers replacing the side winkers here, while CARLOTTA and MONARCH went fair races at Tauranga when ninth and 12th home respectively. Carlotta closed well enough, while Monarch, who had run home nicely for third at Ellerslie two back, got too far back, lost ground turning for home and was untested afterwards. KHISDAR meets an easier field then the one she failed against at Te Rapa last start and he will be fitter. Include TWO Up and CHALAEV.
VEYRON has to be the one to beat in the Gr II Eagle Technology Stakes despite the topweight 59kg. He has won six from eight at Ellerslie, including this year's Gr I Easter Handicap. He has a good record in the early stages of his preparation and is sure to be fitter from his first-up fourth at Te Rapa, beating home KAAP KRUIS (ninth), when far less comfortable going the anti-clockwise direction. It's a solid field, certainly stronger than in recent years, but that still doesn't mean Veyron can't dominate as he's accustomed to at Ellerslie. LADY CHAPARRAL was terrific in winning at Tauranga last start, coming from off the pace to down Mufhasa with a super performance. She was nearly four lengths clear of her nearest chasers and looks competitive again here, despite the wide draw. Behind her were PASTA POST (third) and VONUSTI (fourth), both Gr I winners who meet their last-start conqueror 1kg better at the weights. Both will be improved, though Pasta Post may still be looking for further. He still has the zip to be competitive and that showed at Tauranga, but faces a wide draw here. Vonusti could be reverting to sprinting after this but his trainers are sure to have primed to give his best over 1600m here. He ran an improved race at Tauranga and paraded the best he has all preparation. He draws to advantage. NEW MOON had beaten that pair home at Ellerslie the start before, when finishing second, ahead of Vonusti (fifth) and Pasta Post (ninth). New Moon drops in distance after a brave run in last week's Gr II Counties Cup, while Pasta Post's improvement last time when he was meeting Vonusti 5kg worse at the weights is ominous. HEZA KARMA KAZI returned to his best form with a bold win at Tauranga, beating IZONIT (fifth) and SIR SLICK (10th). Lady Kipling was fourth in the same race and came out and blitzed her rivals at Pukekohe last weekend as a good recommendation for the form. Heza Karma Kazi has yet to place in five second-up runs and meets Sir Slick 4kg worse here. He battled resuming but will be better for the run, and the same can be said for Izonit. It's a tough assignment for all three though taking on top horses at unfavourable weights. NICOLE AMY continues to run genuine races. She is extremely honest and she brings solid form here, having won at this track two back before finishing eighth in the Gr II Coupland's Bakeries Mile at Riccarton last time. Gr I-placed SHEZ SINSATIONAL comes in nicely on the minimum, having placed at her last two in good fields at Hawera and Ellerslie, last time beating home Gr II performer FLORIA (third vs fourth). JEU DE CARTES beat New Moon (first vs second) at Te Rapa earlier this spring and she scored a determined win in a small, weaker Dargaville field last time. SADIST is a progressive gallopers stepping up in grade with rougher claims. LOFTY went well for second to Lady Kipling last weekend, beating home a slightly unlucky AFFAIROFTHEHEART, who was stakes-placed at this trip earlier this season, but again both look to have tough tasks ahead of them. CATALINA was second in this race last year, beating Sir Slick (10th), but it was in a weaker field.
The form about KEITH'S LEGACY looks strong. He chased home Durham Town and subsequent Gr II-placed Appiel resuming at Ellerslie, beating home GOLDMINER (fifth) and LEMONADE (sixth), with among the others further back being subsequent stakes winner Mygoodgrace. Keith's Legacy has drawn out a touch but he is a past second-up winner and won at Te Rapa in Rating 80 grade last season. Goldminer has since finished third at Tauranga, beating LILY L'AMOUR (fifth) and SKAI GLOW (eighth). Goldminer is a handy sprinter with claims here, while Lily L'Amour scored an upset win early in her preparation last term. Lemonade went on to win at Gisborne next start but faded at Pukekohe in a stronger Rating 85 race last weekend. She will appreciate the step back in grade and has side winkers on here. GOSPEL is racing well, winning at Te Rapa two back and following with a last-start third to Toma Valea at Te Rapa last time, beating home subsequent Te Awamutu winner TANGO TERRIFIC (10th). GUEVARA continued a good run of form with a professional win at Tauranga last start. With a similar performance here, he has eachway claims. STAR BOUND, a smart winner at Te Rapa at the end of her last preparation, was unlucky at Dargaville resuming with a fifth placing, splitting NEARLY STOLEN (second) and I'M A KING (seventh). Consider KHEMOSABI, who has the addition of side winkers, THORNBIRDS and BALLYBIT, an impressive winner at Ellerslie on Karaka Million night last season who also has the side winkers added to his gear.
The last is another engaging affair. CHAUMONT finally gets a race to suit. A get-back horse, he should find that in a big field here with plenty of exposed pace, he should be able to run home over the top of them. He has produced two super finishes in his last couple at Te Rapa and is a galloper racing far better than his rating indicates. CAPONE was unlucky at Pukekohe last week, having to weave a passage through runners. Rider Jonathan Riddell confided afterwards that he thought that with a clear run, he would have won. Capone won well in good company at Hastings three back and then took on stakes company in the Listed Matamata Cup and wasn't disgrace. Like Chaumont though, he is a get-back horse and be reliant on a genuine tempo being set up front. He will drop back from a wide draw. CREDIT CRUNCH ran a super race at Tauranga last start, finding the line strongly in the closing stages. An honest performer, that was a career best run in behind Rochallen, beating home SANTERIA (third), HAN SOLO (seventh), SHREDDER (11th), MANGAROA MOLLY (12th), DAZZLING HEIGHTS (14th) and LEICA QUEEN (15th). Rory Hutchings' claim will again be vital, though those he beat at Tauranga are a useful lot and improved performances from a few of them would be no surprise. HANDSOME MATES' form looks good by comparison. He scored two back at Te Awamutu, beating Credit Crunch (fifth) and he has since run a handy second at Tauherenikau last weekend, yet still comes in 1kg better than Credit Crunch here. MALANDRINO looks a promising sort. He defeated Zonza two back at Te Rapa and went another strong race for second to Zurella there last time. He is on the up. Consider CONG'ER, FASHION ROCKS, RUNNINGDOWNADREAM, who like THE SHACKLER defeated MR PEDANTIC into second in a recent race, GREEN SUPREME and TE KARO.
r1: Floreat Days, Miss Meena, Ason, Captain Marvel.
r2: Toma Valea, Sweet Suitor, Charma, Mr Spock.
r3: Kahala, Monarch, Lucky Break, Oak Park.
r4: Yourein, Delaman, Suaza, Keepher Close, Ilka.
r5: Marvon Downs, Princess Kyoto, Gottino, Designacat.
r6: Wisecrack, Yourein, Suaza, Ted'll Do, Hiace, Miss Isle.
r7: Joy's Choice, Caipirinha, Virginia Wade, Mustang, Nab The Moment.
r8: Pentango, Mindy, Carlotta, Monarch.
r9: Veyron, Lady Chaparral, Shez Sinsational, Pasta Post, Vonusti.
r10: Keith's Legacy, Star Bound, Gospel, Goldminer.
r11: Chaumont, Capone, Credit Crunch, Malandrino.
bb: Wisecrack, r6
ls: Monarch, r3
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