Racing editor Aidan Rodley assesses the form for Gr III Concorde Handicap day at Ellerslie.
REGALIA looks beautifully placed in the first. She has good form in handy company, running second in the special conditions sprint at Hastings on Spring Classic day before finishing sixth in the Listed Soliloquy Stakes and she has since run top-four finishes against winners. She is one of only three winners in this yet she is the only horse on the minimum. She does, however, have a tough draw to overcome. OUR KINGPIN failed first time in Rating 65 company at Te Rapa last time but she wasn't punished by Opie Bosson once she was beaten. She was clinical in winning her maiden at Ellerslie two back, beating FOOTPRINT (ninth). DEANE MARTIN also cleared maidens at Ellerslie the same day, over this trip. He has been freshened since, having been scratched in the interim and missed a start in the Gr I Levin Classic. His maiden form prior was sound and arguably stronger than most of the maiden form among other formlines in this race. THE HOTZ has looked promising in three starts and looks capable of figuring in this, while UNDERTHERADAR and SHAKY haven't been far away in recent starts and have claims. Footprint has placed in two of his last three and has place claims along with NORDIC KNIGHT.
SHE'S SAMASHING looks hard to beat from a favourable draw in the second. Unplaced in the Gr II Matamata Breeders' Stakes on debut, She's Samashing has run sound placings in stronger fields in her two runs back and has undeniable claims here. UNO FIVE was scratched last week after drawing out but looks far better suited here in a weaker field and with the extra week between races. He draws well and rates a leading chance after placing in a far stronger Pukekohe race last start, beating GOLDEN DOWNS (fifth). Placed in four of his eight starts, Golden Downs brings solid form, though he cops a wide barrier which won't make this easy. However, he is racing in good form and still rates highly. Consider BALLY DUFF fresh from a disappointing Te Rapa effort in the autumn. He was stakes placed at two before heading to Hong Kong where he was four times placed. He must show he's regained his zest for racing but he has always shown ability far superior to maiden grade. The blinkers are removed. Others to consider are JIMATO, LUCKY ORPHAN, ERIS, DANDYLIGN, ONE O EIGHT, CELTIC CHIEF, MANNY, URBAN ANGEL and ROCKINOUT.
LUNAR ECLIPSE would only need run up to her meritorious fifth in the Gr II Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes last month to win this. A consistent performer in the lower grades, Lunar Eclipse came from well back with a strong run at Pukekohe, chasing home Gr I performers and beating home far better-performed mares. She won't get so far back in the smaller field here, though the more sedate pace won't suit her, however without a genuine leader here, she could yet become the pacemaker. SOPHIA'S DREAM resumed with a second placing in this grade at Ellerslie on Melbourne Cup day, only narrowly failing to win when beating home CARLOTTA (seventh). She has been given time to get over that run but races well when freshened, though she too would appreciate more pace than is likely here. Carlotta has since run a solid second in this grade at Pukekohe last time to frank the form of that Ellerslie race. At Pukekohe she beat home NINE PIN (fifth), who had been in consistent form prior and considered worthy of a tilt at the Gr I New Zealand Derby last season. Nine Pin has the crossover noseband removed and boots added to his gear. JUBILATE went well for second resuming and has been freshened for this. He looked above average last preparation and has solid claims in this. GENDARME has claims from in front, while even with the big weight RIOTOUS can't be discounted as the highest-rated runner in a race where who has the best 500m sprint could well be the winner.
WATCH KING looks a leading chance in a poor Saturday maiden for race four. He looked good at the trials last season and has yet to finish worse than fifth in six starts and finished fifth in the Listed Foal Stakes at Ellerslie in May. He was run down resuming at Avondale but looked in need of that race and should be improved enough to win this. SMART BALL looks the danger. He trialled well before a debut fourth in a handy Tauranga maiden last month. TOLARNO is a trial winner worth considering, while CALIFORNIA DANCER, who has the blinkers removed for this, has shown ability so far and beat home SIGHLENT SPUR (fourth vs fifth) at Ellerslie two back. Consider ANTONINE, who beat California Dancer (fourth vs 10th) at Tauranga last start, TOP STAR and PARVATI.
The fifth is a strong maiden, a stark contrast in quality from the 1200m fourth. This is a race where the form can be followed from. SCHRODINGERS CAT has three times finished sixth in six starts since winning successive trials. He has no early pace which is a handicap but this looks a competitive affair where the pace should be genuine and he should get his chance. CRUSH THE CASTLE draws the outside gate but has placed in all three starts since winning a trial last year. He resumed after a long layoff with a gallant second at Avondale after setting the speed. He has enough pace to lead in this and the step up to 1400m suits, especially as he gets that much longer to get to the front before the turn. He has the sidewinkers and crossover noseband on. STAMEN was unplaced in his first three trials but found the line nicely in his most recent effort and he has to be respected on debut from a good alley. OUR SACRED ANNA was a trial winner before finding the line well at Te Rapa on debut last month with an encouraging performance. IN TUNE draws out for his resuming run but he looked above average last preparation. He could well offer excellent value here. PACIFIC CHOICE was luckless at Paeroa last start. That was an easier race than this but really she should have won and she draws well here. CHOCOLAT won twice at the trials before a battling third at Te Awamutu on debut. He should be better for that experience. LIVING THE DREAM has shown good speed at the trials and should be considered along with last-start Dargaville runner-up RIGHTEO, SATANICO, who has the addition of blinkers, and recent trial winners SHADES OF GOLD, who won a strong Ellerslie 1000m heat and has the shadow roll on, and LA VALETA.
REGALO REAAL has solid claims in an even Dunstan Feeds Qualifier. He was a solid fourth in a handy Rating 75 contest at Ellerslie two back and last time ran well for seventh in a Rating 85 at Pukekohe on the Counties Cup undercard. He drops back to Rating 65 grade here and though there's a weight hike, the easier opposition makes him a leading chance. He has the addition of blinkers. I'LL'AVA'ALF is a sure improver after failing to threaten at Matamata after a freshener leading in. He was a superb winner at Hastings three back and looks a handy staying prospect. At Matamata, he beat home RODDICK (10th vs 11th), who has a wide draw but both drop in grade and have claims. DARK BISHOP was luckless last time and has claims with a clearer passage here and the removal of the shadow roll, while UNBEKNOWN ran well for fifth at Matamata last time, beating home PROSPERO (10th). PENUMBRA raced well last week at Ellerslie, finishing fourth and beating home THENAMESBOND (ninth) in a useful form reference. Another form reference is the Te Awamutu 2000m race won by MR TOOGOOD, beating SUPREME LADY (second), ROYDON (third), STINGRAY (fourth), and CHAPEL BAY (seventh).
CACHUCHA rates highly in the seventh. A winner in this grade three back at Te Rapa, Cachucha has since placed at Ellerslie, when beating home PERIDOT (seventh) and KAHALA (13th), and at Dargaville last start when outsprinted in the straight. Peridot has since failed at Te Rapa behind SATEKA (eighth vs 11th) but showed ability last preparation and should be closer to the mark third-up. The noseband goes on. PATRIMONIUM impressed in her first New Zealand appearance with a stylish trials third behind Burgundy at Cambridge and progressed from that with a slashing Te Awamutu win last month. She goes up in grade and meets a significantly stronger field but should be improved by that run and she draws well so has to be considered. HEAT BLAST was second to Burgundy on debut then scored by 12 1/2 lengths at Te Rapa over winter. He was taken on in front and left a sitting duck when second first time up in grade before finding the slow track conditions in August too testing. Fresh-up from barrier two on a good track, he commands respect and it would be no surprise to see him resume with a win. He has the addition of a tongue tie. APACHE CAT began her campaign with a win over last week's impressive Ellerslie winner Future King before chasing hard behind Thunderbird One when second at Te Rapa. She was good at Ellerslie third-up also when sixth in Rating 85 company but seemed to lack the same spark at Matamata last start when chasing home Sateka (fifth vs fourth). On her best form she would be competitive here but her overall record of three wins from 32 starts shows she can mix her form. The blinkers are removed. SPEECH CRAFT won nicely resuming at Dargaville and must be respected second-up here, while the consistent BRELA BELLE, who races well fresh, demands consideration along with JUNGLE JOY, who was second at Thames last start, beating A KEEPA (last of 11). MAGIC BELLE drops in grade from the Gr II Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes last start and had won her two leadup races, while GREEN WINGS showed good ability last preparation and has the blinkers and noseband added to his gear.
The Gr III Concorde Handicap has drawn an even field with most interest surrounding emerging star sprinter MOSSE and whether he can retain his unbeaten record in what looms as his sternest test. A winner of his first four races, Mosse faces a handy sprint field featuring the likes of last year's winner DURHAM TOWN and smart mare PLANET ROCK, so it will be fascinating to see how he measures up. In his favour is a lightweight 53.5kg impost, dropping 2.5 from his latest win at Ellerslie last month, when he beat home WHOSYOURMASTER (fourth), who drops 4.5kg to meet Mosse 2kg better off. Whosyourmaster has since run second at Ellerslie last weekend so has progressed well since. Mosse also draws out in barrier 11 but has raced off the speed so far anyway. Whosyourmaster has claims from barrier three on the quick backup. VINCENT MANGANO hasn't won for more than two years but the former Karaka Million winner on this track burst into summer sprints contention with a dashing last-start Gr III Stewards Stakes second at Riccarton last month, when he closed strongly to beat home Durham Town (third), GINNER HART (fourth) and DEMOPHON (ninth). Vincent Mangano goes up 1.5kg, the same weight increase facing Durham Town, while Ginner Hart goes up 1kg to come in half a kilogram better and Demophon goes up half a kilogram to come in 1kg better off. Durham Town fought well after racing closer to the speed. He has only won the Gr III Darley Plate since last year's Concorde but carries 6.5kg more this year and has a wide draw to overcome. Ginner Hart did plenty of work at Riccarton and will be sharper for his two runs back. He is a quality performer and should get a cosier run from barrier five. Demophon was caught wide at Riccarton and peaked on his run but that was understandable after a torrid trip. He has become a solid sprinter over the past 12 months but taking on Gr III company with a 59kg topweight is never an easy assignment. Planet Rock resumes after a stylish Te Aroha trial win last month. She races well fresh, but she races well without fail, having only once missed a top-four finish in her career and that was when given a tough run in the New Zealand Oaks over 2400m at the end of her three-year-old season. She has tactical speed so she can take up a prominent position her without doing too much work. Leith Innes takes the reins after a brilliant ride to land the last sprint race at stakes level in the north on Shandream in the Counties Bowl. In that race, ROUGH ODDS flashed home from last to finish third with a sizzling sprint to beat home COOL STORM (sixth) and TRAPICHE (eighth). Both that pair found traffic problems in the straight and went to the line nicely, though Trapiche could easily have finished fifth with a clear run. That pair meets Rough Odds 1kg better here, though they would still need to improve to turn the tables. KITT ANN MISS cannot be underestimated. She is a bold frontrunner with a great propensity to stick on gamely. She was fourth in the Listed Timpson Sprint at Te Rapa, beating home MAE JINX (last of 13).
REMISE should go compensation for a desperately unlucky run at Pukekohe last time when rider Danielle Johnson couldn't find a clear passage in the straight, no matter where she looked. The Reset mare's prior form was strong, having run second to Mosse on debut, beaten Diademe - twice a winner since - at her second start and then run second at Ellerslie, beating VIRGINIA WADE (third), TAKEOVER (fourth) and LADY CAROLYN (ninth). Virginia Wade was consistent last season but she has yet to step up as a four-year-old. She ran a creditable last-start fifth at Matamata but a wide draw here won't help her cause. Takeover has been freshened since Ellerslie and has a wide draw to overcome also. NEEDLLY ran well for second at Matamata last start second-up, beating Virginia Wade, and looks to be in career-best form. With a 2kg claim, she still only meets Virginia Wade 1kg worse. SOPHIE'S GEM won nicely at Te Rapa last start, having run well in prior. ARTEMIS impressed with a trial win at Te Aroha in preparation for this. She draws well and looked handy last preparation so has solid claims. BIDDABLE won nicely at Te Rapa last time and is worth considering along with MANAIA ROSE and LOVETOHAVEIT.
STORMING THE TOWER has strong claims in the second of the three Dunstan Feeds Championship Qualifiers. He drops back from an eye-catching ninth in the Gr II Counties Cup last time, when he beat home JUST GOT HOME (12th) and SARSARUN (13th). Before that he hadn't missed a placing from eight starts and had won three of his five leadup runs. He was second two back behind Counties Cup-fourth Annie Higgins, beating home THE FLYING AFFAIR (fifth), Just Got Home (eighth) and TEMPELTEN (ninth). Just Got Home was making ground in both races and was in good form prior, winning in this grade three back at Pukekohe before a freshener. Sarsarun was in similarly good form prior to the Counties Cup, with top four runs at each of her six leadup runs, including a Listed Karaka Classic third placing. She has solid claims in this. The Flying Affair has made good progress in his last four starts, winning twice and running top races in this grade, firstly behind Annie Higgins, then last time for fourth in the 2400m Rating 85 at Pukekohe on Counties Cup day when beating Tempelten (last of 16). C'EST MAGNIFIQUE scored well at Matamata, beating SEAFLYTE (12th) so is worth considering along with BONE OF CONTENTION second-up and JED, who scored well at Dargaville two back, beating BRUNO (seventh), then ran on well at Ellerslie last week.
The last on Concorde Handicap day is another tough Dunstan Feeds Championship Qualifier. THE TERMINATOR finished well for fifth at Matamata last start and is coming into the form which saw him finish fourth in last year's Gr II Waikato Times Gold Cup. He looks a chance in an open race. GRAND ADMIRAL's second two back rates as one of the strongest form recommendations, when he beat home AZINCOURT (fourth), RAFA (10th), SAVED BY THE BELL (12th) and WHISTLING STRAITS (15th). however he was well below his best stepping up in grade at Pukekohe. Back to this company with a favourable draw he is worth another chance. He has the tongue tie go on. Azincourt has claims here but like the others needs to step it up some. GALSHAAN looks to be peaking at the right time for the money races. Hers was a top effort for third at Thames last time, splitting BRUNO (second) and RIVER HAZE (fifth). She had run well at Te Rapa the start before as well and now fourth up should be ready to fire. Bruno's effort was similarly full of effort and his form is on the improve also. MASTER IP is up in grade but has been consistent coming through the grades and deserves respect, while SINNFONIA has impressed with good wins at her last two and RHYTHM DIVINE placed two back before she was caught wide at Ellerslie last week.
r1: Regalia, Our Footprint, Deane Martin, The Hotz.
r2: She's Samashing, Uno Five, Golden Downs, Jimato.
r3: Lunar Eclipse, Sophia's Dream, Jubilate, Gendarme.
r4: Watch King, Smart Ball, Tolarno, Antonine.
r5: Schrodingers Cat, Crush The Castle, Our Sacred Anna, Stamen.
r6: Regalo Reaal, I'll'ava'alf, Penumbra, Unbeknown.
r7: Cachucha, Heat Blast, Patrimonium, Speech Craft.
r8: Planet Rock, Mosse, Vincent Mangano, Ginner Hart.
r9: Remise, Needlly, Artemis, Sophie's Gem.
r10: Storming The Tower, Sarsarun, The Flying Affair, Just Got Home.
r11: Grand Admiral, The Terminator, Galshaan, Bruno.
bb: Remise, r9; She's Samashing, r2
ls: Stamen, r5; In Tune, r5.