Francaletta ready to bounce back in Taranaki Breeders
Forget Francaletta's last start failure when assessing the form for Saturday's Taranaki Breeders' Stakes (1400m) at Hawera.
Up to 1600 metres second-up in a new campaign proved too much for the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained mare.
"She can bounce back," Forsman said. "We expect her to run well.
"She's looking a picture and working well."
From a stable currently winning major races on both sides of the Tasman that's a good wrap and punters agree, installing her as $3.40 favourite in the Group III race with regular rider Michael Coleman aboard.
Last year's winner Underthemoonlight ($3.60) is second favourite and has returned encouraging track work at Matamata this week.
"We've been very happy with her work this week," trainer Karyn McQuade said. "She's been working extremely well."
Ridden by race day jockey Cameron Lammas, Underthemoonlight worked brilliantly on Tuesday morning running 1000m in 1:02.4.
Connections of Thee Auld Floozie ($7) will hope a step back in class will bring a winning result.
The mare's last two starts have been in Group I company at the Hawke's Bay carnival where she finished out of the money.
"Her work has been very good and if we could get a better track it would help her," trainer Stephen Marsh said.
The Mastercraftsman mare has won once on a heavy track and several times on dead footing and gets on well with her rider Rosie Myers.
Rated as a Slow9 on Friday, the track at Hawera underwent inspections on Friday, with concerns allayed over a small area of the track.
"It was a bit damper than the rest of the track so the club has been pro-active and done a bit of work and there's no problem," said national venue inspector Garry Foskett.
"It was a general thing, not a big worry and just a precautionary measure."
Some light rain was forecast for late Friday, clearing to hopefully bring a fine race day.
Early betting has seen Underthemoonlight shorten in the market while Francaletta has admirers.
"The early money is coming for Underthemoonlight," TAB odds-setter Thad Taylor said on Friday afternoon.. "She's the best backed, just.
"The money is starting to come for Francaletta and there won't be much between them at the jump."
Aide Memoire ($5.50) has been steady in the market while Let Her Rip ($7) has her fans.
Trainer Roger James fancies the chances of Romantic Maid ($18) if track conditions don't deteriorate.
"She has been working really well," he said. "Her trial has brought her on nicely and I think she goes into the race in the right order.
"If the track is within her range, a very good slow or dead, she is a mare who does need reasonable footing, she can run well."
In the Egmont Cup (2100m) Gobstopper ($4.50) and Wait A Sec ($5.50) are disputing favouritism with the early money arriving for the Andrew Campbell-trained Gobstopper.