NZ Racing: Tips, Odds and Expert Previews

The NZ Racing analyst has been involved in the New Zealand racing industry for decades and joins the Betfair Hub to provide his analysis and tips for all major meetings of the 2020 NZ calendar.

This includes all meetings featuring a Group 1 race, alongside other major meetings, such as the Karaka Million.

Utilise Betfair Live when betting on NZ racing for up-to-the-second price flucs, weighted average price, best tote price, projected BSP and more.

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Here’s a look at the five features out of Saturday’s Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks meeting at Trentham Gardens.


TRENTHAM RACE 3 – NEW ZEALAND ST LEGER

The Contenders

1 Glory Days
Gun staying mare who won last year’s Auckland Cup and finished third in the Sydney Cup. She will get every chance to let down with her trademark finish over 2600.

5 Te Akau Caliburn
Former European who won two of his nine races in Europe before a two-run campaign at Flemington during Spring where he finished a close-up fifth at his Australian debut before a disappointing run in the Bart Cummings. Nice dead-heat win two back before struggling in the ground at Matamata at his last start. Expect a better showing up in distance to 2600.

9 Dance Card
Cambridge Stud-owned mare who was super impressive when holding out the talented Intrigue to win the Karaka Cup back in January. Ran on nicely at her most recent start and will delight in the step up in trip to 2600.


Betting Strategy

Class should prevail with Glory Days back to her best at a distance right down her alley.

BACK – Glory Days for 3 units


TRENTHAM RACE 5 – GROUP 3 CUDDLE STAKES

The Contenders

1 Yearn
Savabeel mare who was unlucky not to have taken out Cal Isuzu at Group 2 level back in December before finishing second to Prise De Fer in the Rich Hill and just going under in the Group 1 Thorndon Mile two starts back. She has since lined up at Hastings where she was a fast-finishing fifth.

5 Sinarahma
Has gone to another level this campaign. She has won three of her five starts including an impressive win in the Wairarapa Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes at her most recent start. The early money has been strong.

12 Vee Cece
OTI-owned mare out of the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman stable. She has a big finish on her which we have seen in full effect at all three starts this campaign. Watch for her to swoop late on the leaders if the pace is hot out in front.


Betting Strategy

She has gone close in three top miles recently and faces weaker opposition on Saturday.

BACK – Yearn for 5 units


TRENTHAM RACE 6 – GROUP 2 WELLINGTON GUINEAS

The Contenders

1 Callsign Mav
He gave the well-performed Quick Thinker a cold at his last start. A similar run on Saturday should land him in the finish.

3 Levante
Exciting filly who has four stunning last-to-first wins to her credit from just the four career starts. Faces her biggest test on Saturday but the way she has been closing out her races suggests that this is just a stepping stone to bigger and brighter things.

4 Star Of Bombay
The Te Akau stable have got a stable full of exciting horses and this one is no exception. He’s a winner of three of his five starts including a strong win against top three-year-old company at his last start.


Betting Strategy

Levante has been incredible in her first four starts and it is hard to see how they will be able to hold her out in this.

BACK – Levante for 10 units


TRENTHAM RACE 7 – LIGHTNING HANDICAP

The Contenders

2 Enzo’s Lad
Two-time Telegraph winner who was denied a three-peat by Avantage in this year’s running. Disappointing in the Group 1 BCD Group Sprint at his last start but you can’t discount him back at Trentham, a track he absolutely loves.

5 Wekaforce
Another South Islander making the trek up to Trentham. She has been annihilating fields down south and is a deserved favourite in this. Expect her to set a hot pace and with her light weight she will prove hard to catch.

7 Santa Catarina
Big win two back and forget she went around in the Concorde. She wasn’t afforded a lot of racing room when it was required.


Betting Strategy

Santa Catarina gets in well at the weights and shouldn’t have too many problems finding clear air at the roomy Trentham track.

BACK – Santa Catarina for 5 units


TRENTHAM RACE 8 – GROUP 1 NEW ZEALAND OAKS

The Contenders

1 Jennifer Eccles
Star filly who has bolted in at both of her starts since stepping up to staying distances. She’s drawn wide but that won’t be a problem as she gets back in the running anyway.

2 Loire
Had the wood on Jennifer Eccles over the mile but since they’ve stepped up to 2000+ the Tony Pike-trained filly has been embarrassed by Saturday’s Oaks favourite. It’s hard to see how she can turn the tables further up in trip.

4 Communique
She put in a very nice Oaks trial at her last start when attacking the line stylishly to take out the Sunline Vase. She’s out of a Zabeel mare so expect her to find the Oaks distance more to her liking.


Betting Strategy

The only thing stopping Jennifer Eccles is traffic issues.

BACK – Jennifer Eccles for 10 units

It’s Auckland Cup Day on Saturday. Here’s a look at all three Group 1s on the big day out of Ellerslie.


Ellerslie Race 6 – GROUP 1 SISTEMA STAKES

The Contenders

2 Cool Aza Beel
Te Akau colt who was an easy winner of the Karaka Million before running second to a talented stablemate at his last start. He can expect the conditions underfoot to be a lot more to his liking on Saturday after struggling to quicken on the rain-affected going in the Waikato Stud Slipper.

He lined up three times prior to his Karaka Million victory. He won two, both impressively, and was a tragedy beaten in the other. The stable’s absolutely flying at the moment and we can expect Jamie Richards to have the colt ready to go again.

4 Vernazza
Cambridge Stud-owned filly out of the good mare Zonza. Very impressive performance when winning the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes at Group 2 level last start. Despite sitting three-wide the entire trip she still had plenty left in the tank to attack the line for an easy win.

6 Play That Song
Had her colours lowered for the first time when going down to Cool Aza Beel in the Karaka Million. The Nigel Tiley-trained filly chased strongly enough but just got too far back in the running to mount a serious challenge. Her previous start, in the Eclipse Stakes, where she easily rounded up the talented colt Not An Option and cruised on by was special.


Betting Strategy

The smaller field gives Play That Song an edge over Cool Aza Beel. She’ll be able to keep the Te Akau runner in her sights.

BACK – Play That Song for 10 units


Ellerslie Race 8 – GROUP 1 BONECRUSHER NEW ZEALAND STAKES

The Contenders

5 Rock On Wood
Lightly tried five-year-old who stepped up to Group 1 level at his last two starts and he was a unfortunately beaten in both. He was badly held up in the Thorndon Mile, missing by half a length and again he found himself held up in the Herbie Dyke Stakes at Te Rapa before stomping home for third. He will take plenty of improvement out of both efforts and he will be awfully hard to hold out if he can find clear air at the top of the straight.

8 Avantage
Fastnet Rock mare out of the gun Te Akau operation headed up by Jamie Richards. She has won nine of her 16 starts, six of those at black-type level. She put in a huge performance to get up in the Group 1 WFA Classic at Otaki after a breathtaking win in the Group 1 Telegraph two starts prior. In between those efforts, she was strong to the line behind Te Akau Shark in the BCD Group Sprint over 1400 metres.

9 Supera
Didn’t cop the conditions at her last start but was still able to get up and win. The Pencarrow mare will enjoy the improved track conditions at Ellerslie on Saturday and the step up to 2000 will suit. The only other time she has raced at this distance she launched from near last to win easily, and with a touch of class.


Betting Strategy

Avantage has the talent to make the step up to 2000 metres but I am sticking with proven stayer Rock On Wood who will lap up this distance.

BACK – Rock On Wood for 5 units


Ellerslie Race 9 – GROUP 1 AUCKLAND CUP

The Contenders

1 Azuro
Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained raider who has a terrific record at the two miles with three wins and a second placing from four starts. He has been given a visitor’s draw at 16 but that shouldn’t be a problem as he has gone back to the rear of the field in each of his four starts at 3200. Disappointed in the Australia Day Cup but has had a freshen-up and did trial nicely last month.

3 Platinum Invador
Four-year-old out of Lisa Latta’s Awapuni stable. His get-back-and-fly-home style suggests he will handle the step up to the two miles. He put in a terrific trial when a fast-finishing second in the Avondale Cup and was ultra impressive when taking out the City Of Auckland Cup on New Year’s Day. He bolted in by nearly three lengths that day, beating home some decent stayers in the process. He’s a deserved favourite.

8 The Good Fight
He was brilliant at his first attempt at two miles when getting within half a head of the winner in the Wellington Cup back in January. He lines up against stiffer competition on Saturday but expect improvement from his Wellington Cup run.


Betting Strategy

Hard to go past the favourite. I love the way he has been hitting the line over 2400 and he strikes as a type who will be even better over a bit more ground.

BACK – Platinum Invador for 5 units

It’s a big day at Ellerslie on Saturday for the first day of the 2020 Auckland Cup Week. Here’s a look at the four features on Day 1 including the headlining NZ Derby.


Ellerslie Race 6 – Group 3 Sunline Vase

The Contenders

1 Bergamot
Oaks-bound filly out of the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman stable. She wanted to attack the line in the Oaks Prelude but couldn’t get the gaps. She’ll appreciate being back at the roomy Ellerslie track as well as the step up to 2100.

2 Seven Seas
Oaks Stud filly out of the astute Tony Pike stable. Punters got stung when they left her alone in the Oaks Prelude market and she came from the clouds to win. That despite her impressive win when breaking maidens at her previous start. Although she has had limited success with just two wins and a placing from nine starts, she has a near-perfect record at distances over 2000 metres with two wins and one second placing from three starts.

7 Amal Rose
Roger James/Robert Wellwood-trained filly who has only won one from seven but she’s still learning what the game’s about. She ran about when finishing fifth two starts back before fighting on valiantly for fourth behind Seven Seas in the Oaks Prelude at her last start. Her breeding suggests she will get better as she gets up over a bit of ground. Her Grand Dam Bramble Rose was a New Zealand Oaks winner who also ran third in the AJC Oaks.


Betting Strategy

Hard to go past Bergamot up in distance. Comfortably beaten by Seven Seas at her last start but she was badly held up at a crucial stage of the race.

BACK – Bergamot for 5 units


Ellerslie Race 7 – Mufhasa Fasttrack Stakes

The Contenders

1 Aretha
Trained by the all-conquering Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman team. She’s a Group 3 and Group 2 winner who got within a long neck of winning a Group 1. She’s had a short let-up and is capable of running a race fresh. The Charm Spirit filly won the Group 3 Gold Trail Stakes first-up during her last campaign. Recent trial performance behind Bostonian and Melody Belle suggests she is forward enough to give this a big shake at a price.

2 Run To Perfection
Impressive at his last start when beating all bar Catalyst in the Group 3 Mr Tiz Trophy. He’s finished in the top two in five of his six starts with his only failure a fourth in the Group 1 2000 Guineas. He does tend to settle in the back half of the field so the wide draw won’t be a major factor on Saturday and the step up to 1300 is a major plus.

3 Hasstobegood
She could have been in the finish of the Karaka Million 3YO Classic had she not been bullied out of it by Conqueror. She managed to hold on strongly for third with a big gap to the rest of the field. She won’t mind stepping back to 1300 with most of her form at distances less than 1400.


Betting Strategy

Hasstobegood just wins if she can run up to the performance she put up in the Karaka Million 3YO.

BACK – Hasstobegood for 5 units


Ellerslie Race 8 – Group 3 King’s Plate

The Contenders

3 Its Destinys Child
She has been brilliant this campaign, winning three of her four starts, each of them at double-figure odds. Six-year-old mare who has drawn solidly at five and is capable of finding the necessary improvement to take this out. She did so when winning stylishly at the same stage of her last preparation.

4 Sheezallmine
Super Easy mare who enjoyed a stellar campaign down south, culminating in an effortless win in the Stewards Stakes at Group 3 level. She was unlucky at her first look at Ellerslie when she flew home after being inconvenienced at the top of the straight. If she’s able to step away from her good gate on Saturday she will be awfully hard to beat.

13 Short Fuse
Graham Richardson-trained mare who likes to get back and run on strongly, often when it’s too late. Has yet to win this campaign but has gone close in good fields recently and conditions should suit her perfectly on Saturday with plenty of speed in the race.


Betting Strategy

It’s worth a look at Short Fuse and decent odds. The speed maps fast which will suit a horse like Short Fuse who is capable of finishing over the top of the front runners.

BACK – Short Fuse for 3 units


Ellerslie Race 9 – Group 1 NZ Derby

The Contenders

1 Dragon Leap
Son of Pierro who has won three of his four starts with his only defeat coming at the hands of Two Illicit in the Trevor Eagle Memorial, a race he was stiff not to win due to his greenness. He showed in the Avondale Guineas that he is a much more professional horse now, and is capable of running straight. That was a classy win in the Avondale Guineas, and although he has drawn wide he will lap up the 2400 metres of Saturday’s NZ Derby.

8 Reggiewood
He hasn’t beaten much in winning his last two but the manner of which he has been winning them has been super impressive. He bolted in from near-last at his first attempt past 1600 two starts back before cruising in to win by three lengths at his last start. Unconventional Derby lead-up but looks the type who will offer plenty more up in distance to 2400 metres.

16 Two Illicit
Highly regarded filly out of the Roger James and Robert Wellwood stable. Her win in the Group 2 Waikato Guineas where she trounced Group 1-winning filly Travelling Light by seven lengths, with a further six lengths back to the leading male, was stunning. James has ranked her up there with the best of the three-year-olds he has ever trained. Given the quality of three-year-olds he has had under his care that gives us plenty of confidence going into her biggest test. She defeated Dragon Leap previously and has drawn perfectly in five. Vinnie Colgan, the king of the NZ Derby with six wins, three in partnership with Roger James, takes the ride.


Betting Strategy

I was firmly in the Dragon Leap’s camp until Two Illicit’s demolition job in the Waikato Guineas. She’s a special filly.

BACK – Two Illicit for 10 units

A look at the Group 1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic at Otaki as well as the three features out of Matamata.


Otaki Race 7 – Group 1 Haunui Farm WFA Group One Classic

The Contenders

5 Prise De Fer

Te Akau four-year-old who has built up a picket fence form line after winning his last five starts. Capable of making the step up to Group 1 company after cruising to an easy win in the Group 2 Rich Hill Mile on New Year’s Day, and backing that up with a super impressive win in the Taranaki Cup.

9 Avantage

Breathtaking win two starts back in the Group 1 Telegraph when she came from well off the pace to win despite the track suiting on-pace runners that day. The Fastnet Rock mare will appreciate the step up to the mile after hitting the line stylishly at her last start when fourth behind Te Akau Shark in the BCD Group Sprint over 1400.

11 Rondinella

Roger James/Robert Wellwood-trained mare who put in a couple of eye-catching efforts over the mile during Melbourne’s Spring Carnival. She was a fast-finishing second to Princess Jenni in the Group 2 Stocks Stakes and went on to finish second behind Spanish Reef in the Group 3 Ladies’ Day Vase. She has since resumed from a short break and could not have been more impressive when lobbing into the placings in the Group 2 Westbury Classic at Ellerslie last month.


Betting Strategy

Hard to split the Te Akau pair but I have sided with Avantage. She’s all class and crying out for the mile now after attacking the line at her last two starts.

BACK – Avantage for 5 units


Matamata Race 4 – Group 3 Waikato Stud Slipper

The Contenders

1 Cool Aza Beel

Te Akau colt who has won three of his four starts. He was a tragedy beaten in his only loss when he was shut out of a gap at a crucial time. His last win was in the Karaka Million where he comfortably fended off the best sprinters in New Zealand to land the coveted trophy.

3 Need I Say More

Another talented two-year-old out of the Te Akau stable who looks to be the only realistic challenger to Cool Aza Beel on the account of his impressive debut win. He dominated his rivals that day but will need to find plenty of improvement to challenge his stablemate.


Betting Strategy

He’s at skinny odds but it is impossible to find one to beat Cool Aza Beel in this line up.

BACK – Cool Aza Beel for 10 units


Matamata Race 7 – Group 2 Matamata Breeders Stakes

The Contenders

1 Bonita Aurelia

She has shown plenty of heart in both of her career starts. The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained filly finished strongly on debut despite getting caught three wide and getting little racing room in the Ellerslie straight. She backed that up with a brilliant win in the Group 3 Woburn Classic where she was again caught three wide but showed tremendous fight to get up on the line.

6 Vernazza

An impressive last-start winner out of the Lance Noble Stable. The Cambridge Stud-owned filly has drawn wide but coped well with the widest barrier when winning at Ellerslie. An argument could be made that she was subject to a brilliant Leith Innes ride with the two horses placing behind her, including Dragon Queen, having covered considerably more ground.

8 Dragon Queen

Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard-trained filly who has yet to break through in four starts but she’s been lining up against the best of the crop. She finished fifth behind Cool Aza Beel in the Karaka Million after a run of three placings to start her racing career. She’s shown in each of her four starts that she is capable of letting down with a big sprint at the end of her races.


Betting Strategy

If Dragon Queen takes a handy position from the inside draw she’ll be awfully hard to run down.

BACK – Dragon Queen for 5 units


Matamata Race 8 – Kaimai Stakes

The Contenders

1 Scott Base

2018 Karaka Million Classic winner who looks to be getting back to near his best after a year-long injury lay off. He sustained a big run from the rear of the field to get up for fourth in the Taranaki Cup after producing a similar effort in the Anniversary when missing the start. The Jamie Richards-trained five year old will relish getting up over 2000 and rates a strong winning chance if he can just jump with them.

2 Te Akau Caliburn

Lightly raced European stayer. Won two of his nine races in Europe before a two-run campaign at Flemington during Spring. He finished a close-up fifth at his Australian debut before a disappointing run in the Bart Cummings. Has since been freshened and he put in a professional effort over 1550 metres second up to share first place. The further he goes the better he will get.

12 Joe’s Legacy

Local who is two from two at this track. He drops back in distance but that won’t be a concern with both of his wins coming at distances shorter than he’ll face on Saturday. Showed his versatility at his last start when sitting on the speed and has drawn well in four to again take up a forward position.


Betting Strategy

We got a glimpse of Te Akau Caliburn’s potential when dead-heating his last start. Will improve on that effort and will lap up the extra distance of the Kaimai Stakes.

BACK – Te Akau Caliburn for 3 units

It’s Legends Day at Te Rapa on Saturday with two Group 1s and two Group 2s.


Te Rapa Race 4 – Group 2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic

The Contenders

1 Loire

Redoute’s Choice filly trained out of Cambridge by Tony Pike. Has come up against Jennifer Eccles in five of her seven career starts and has beaten her home three of those times, including both starts over the mile. She has relished the step up to the mile, finishing second to Showbeel at her last start and taking out the Group 1 1000 Guineas back in November.

2 Jennifer Eccles

Talented Shaune Ritchie-trained filly who has a stunning turn of foot. She defied the pattern of the day at Trentham last month to stomp home from the rear of the field and land the prize for third behind Showbeel and Loire in the Desert Gold. She let down with a similar effort in the Group 1 1000 Guineas back in November and bolted in at Group 2 level on Boxing Day.

3 Showbeel

Easily dealt to both Loire and Jennifer Eccles in the Desert Gold Stakes but she had every favour. She was able to land on the speed from a good draw and that was the winning of the race on a day that suited front runners. For a better guide on her chances we need to go back to Boxing Day where she finished five lengths adrift of Jennifer Eccles in the Group 2 Eight Carat Classic.


Betting Strategy

Jennifer Eccles’s get-back-and-run-on style gets herself into trouble but it won’t be a problem on Saturday with only six rivals to get past. She just needs to cop the trip to be winning.

 BACK – Jennifer Eccles for 5 units


Te Rapa Race 5 – Group 2 Legacy Lodge Waikato Guineas

The Contenders

1 Dragon Leap

Classy win at the hands of James McDonald in the Group 2 Auckland Guineas after going bush at his previous start to miss at the expense of Two Illicit. He would hold an unblemished record had he not been wayward that day.

6 Travelling Light

Exciting filly whose connections have opted to take on the boys in the Guineas. She’s won five of her six starts with her only miss coming in the 1000 Guineas. The daughter of El Roca let down with an impressive finish to secure Group 1 honours at her last start and the ease with which she win that suggests she will be a force over the staying distances.

7 Two Illicit

Proven performer at the trip. The Roger James and Robert Wellwood-trained filly was a dominant winner of the Group 2 Royal Stakes over 2000 metres on New Year’s Day. She was dealt to by Jennifer Eccles in the Eight Carat Classic but did down a wayward Dragon Leap prior to that.


Betting Strategy

Loved the way Travelling Light hit the line in the Levin Classic but I can’t go past Dragon Leap and his turn of foot.

 BACK – Dragon Leap for 5 units

 LAY – Two Illicit for 5 units


Te Rapa Race 7 – Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes

The Contenders

2 Beauden

Outstanding when winning by four lengths back in December despite knuckling over at the start. He backed that effort up with a close third behind True Enough in the Zabeel on Boxing Day and an easy win in the Marton Cup at his last start.

6 Rock on Wood

He was a tragedy beaten in the Thorndon when badly held up in the straight. The step up to 2000 metres will suit – he is always doing his best work on the line and is bred to get the trip. Three of his mother’s  six wins came over a staying trip.

8 Luvaluva

Six-win mare out of the John Sargent stable back for her second tilt at Group 1 honours in New Zealand after finishing third in the Thoroughbred breeders last year. She is bringing good form into this with stakes wins at her last two starts at Randwick, both over 2000 metres.


Betting Strategy

Rock On Wood to be doing his best work on the line and taking out his maiden Group 1.

 BACK – Rock on Wood for 3 units


Te Rapa Race 8 – Group 1 BCD Sprint

The Contenders

1 Te Akau Shark

One of the most exciting gallopers to have come out of New Zealand in recent times. He didn’t win at his last preparation but lost no admirers with placings in the Tramway, Epsom and Cox Plate. This preparation, he’s on a path towards the Queen Elizabeth Stakes which will see him also take in the Chipping Norton and George Ryder. He looked forward enough in a recent trial to suggest he will be making a winning start to his fourth campaign.

6 Avantage

Te Akau Shark’s stablemate who was breathtaking in the Telegraph when she came from well off the pace to win despite the track suiting on-pace runners that day. She’s a previous Karaka Million winner who has also won at Group 1 level over this distance.

8 Volpe Veloce

Disappointing efforts in Sydney during Spring when only beating one runner home in the Theo Marks and then finishing last in the Shannon. She was putting in the big strides just short of the line in the Sistema and was huge in the Westbury when finishing third despite racing wide without cover throughout.


Betting Strategy

Avantage is back to her best but that still shouldn’t be enough to beat a fresh Te Akau Shark.

 BACK – Te Akau Shark for 10 units

We take a look at four races set down for Saturday’s Karaka Million meeting at Ellerslie. Not only does the bumper six-race card feature both the Karaka Million 2YO and 3YO, the Group 2 Westbury Classic, Group 3 Concorde Handicap and the Group 3 Mr Tiz Trophy (Race 2) which features the return of star three-year-old Catalyst.


Ellerslie Race 1 – Karaka Cup

The Contenders

1 Sentimental Miss

Central Districts visitor who powered home to take out the Wanganui Cup at her last start. The Lisa Latta-trained mare has plenty of talent over staying distances. She took out last season’s Oaks and she’s Group 2 placed at 2000 metres. Will have to carry a big weight but has drawn the ace and will have James McDonald in the saddle.

2 Pinmedown

Capable mare who lined up against the best of the Classics fillies last year. Trained in Matamata by Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard, she produced a strong finish in the Group 1 Zabeel on Boxing Day and backed that up with an unlucky run in the City Of Auckland Cup where she would have finished a lot closer to them had she had a clear run.

3 Intrigue

Light weight special. Will only carry 53 kilos to Pinmedown’s 58.5 and Sentimental Miss’s 60. Her age-group form isn’t as glamorous as the top two in the book but she is Group 2 placed as a three year old and was thought good enough by Tony Pike to line her up in the Queensland Oaks last season.


Betting Strategy

Really like Intrigue, especially at the weight, but can’t go past Pinmedown who is proven at the highest level.

 BACK – Pinmedown for 3 units


Ellerslie Race 4 – Karaka Million 2YO

The Contenders

1 Not an Option

He’s drawn the widest of 14 runners but two of the previous 12 runnings of the race have been won from that draw including by Probabeel last year. Although he was well beaten by Play That Song in the Eclipse he didn’t enjoy the best of runs that day while it played out perfectly for Play That Song. He’s got a brilliant finish on him so he should be able to watch everything unfold out in front of him then launch with a big sprint late.

2 Cool Aza Beel

Te Akau’s Jamie Richards and Opie Bosson have combined to win the last three runnings of the Karaka Million and they’re back again this year with another smart colt. Cool Aza Beel has easily won two of his three starts and was a tragedy beaten in the other when he was shut out at a crucial time. Has had plenty of education for this and you just know Jamie will have him absolutely humming for this.

6 Play that Song

Kept her unbeaten record intact when rounding up Not An Option and going straight past him in the Eclipse Stakes on New Year’s Day. The Nigel Tiley-trained filly is perfectly drawn in barrier four and will once again benefit from the services of leading Sydney jockey James McDonald.


Betting Strategy

Backing the four-peat. Faces strong oppositions in Play That Song and Not An Option but should get a charmed run from the good gate.

 BACK – Cool Aza Beel for 3 units


Ellerslie Race 5 – Westbury Classic

The Contenders

1 Volpe Veloce

Last year’s winner who looks to have come back to New Zealand in good order after disappointing efforts in Sydney during Spring when only beating one runner home in the Theo Marks and then finishing last in the Shannon. She was putting in the big strides just short of the line in the Sistema and will love the step up to 1400. Has won five of her seven starts at Ellerslie.

4 Princess Kereru

Disappointed in the Group 1 Sistema when finishing 10th of 14 runners but she did produce a big finish at her previous start in the Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders to lob into the placings. Back at that same distance here.

5 Rondinella

First start back in New Zealand since putting in three admirable efforts against top mares during Melbourne’s Spring Carnival. She was a tragedy beaten when runner up to Princess Jenni in the Stocks at Group 2 level before adding a further Group placing in the Ladies’ Day Vase. 1400 is short of her best but she goes well fresh (4s:1w:2p) and class will take her a long way.


Betting Strategy

She’s drawn wide but I loved the way she hit the line in the Sistema. She will be hard to hold out with the right run.

 BACK – Volpe Veloce for 5 units


Ellerslie Race 6 – Karaka Million 3YO Classic

The Contenders

1 Harlech

Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard-trained colt who has had to settle for second to star filly Travelling Light at his last two starts after running into Catalyst three starts back. He’s dodged Catalyst and Travelling Light this time but does run into Probabeel.

He’s a well bred colt (by Darci Brahma and out of Group 2-winning mare Obsession) who has an incredible finish on him and he should get every chance to unleash with plenty of speed expected in the race.

2 Conqueror

Australian visitor out of the Hayes/Dabernig stable who is impeccably bred by Fastnet Rock and out of the multiple Group winning mare Diademe. Has had a solid three year old campaign in Melbourne, picking up Group 2 placings in both the Sandown Guineas and Stutt Stakes. The Aussie raiders have form in Karaka Million 3YO Classic with the same combination of Hayes/Dabernig and James McDonald taking out last year’s edition with Long Leaf.

11 Probabeel

Winner of last year’s 2YO edition of the Karaka Million who has returned from a Sydney campaign in terrific order after cruising to an easy win at her first run back in New Zealand. She lost no admirers when second to Fun Star in both the Group 2 Tea Rose and Group 1 Flight Stakes during Spring. The Te Akau-trained filly has recorded wins in all three of her previous starts at Ellerslie and will start odds on to make that four from four.


Betting Strategy

Hard to go past Probabeel to do the double. She’s a star filly who can afford to get things wrong and still win this.

 BACK – Probabeel for 5 units

Trentham Race 7 – Group 1 Telegraph

The Contenders

1 Julius
He’s the story of the season after miraculously returning from an injury-forced retirement to win a Group 1 on New Year’s Day. He has won nine of his 16 career starts including seven of 10 at 1200 metres. It was an impressive win in the Railway and he was just as impressive at the start before that. There can be no doubting he has the ability to pull off back-to-back Group 1 wins.

7 Winter Bride
Not a bad effort at her New Zealand debut on New Year’s Day when she was positioned three wide in the Railway and was still able to put up a serious challenge to winner Julius. She will enjoy a much better draw in the Telegraph and provided the rail isn’t off she looks hard to beat.

8 Avantage
Four-year-old Te Akau mare who looks to be back on track after producing a fast-finishing second placed effort at her first run back from a disastrous trip to Syndey during the Spring. Her form as a filly was outstanding. As well as taking out the Karaka Million, she won at Group 1 level at two and backed that up with two Group 3 wins and a Group 2 placing in just three starts as a three-year-old.


Betting Strategy

Winter Bride did an incredible job to get within a neck of Julius despite her tough run. She can turn the tables on him in the Telegraph from a much better draw.

 BACK – Winter Bride for 5 units


Trentham Race 8 – Group 1 Thorndon Mile

The Contenders

2 Wyndspelle
He went down to Rock On Wood two starts back but did unwind stylishly very late to get within half a length. Although he meets Rock On Wood half a kilo worse off at the weights, the extra 200 metres of the Thorndon will suit the Iffraaj entire. He backed up that performance to win his maiden Group 1 at his next start.

6 Rock On Wood
Lightly raced five-year-old who just missed on soft footing last start after putting together clinics at his previous four starts. He downed subsequent Group 1 winner Wyndspelle two starts back and bombed the other well supported runner in Saturday’s Thorndon, Shadows Cast, three starts back.

8 Vigor Winner
He was heavily backed late at his last start in the Group 2 Coupland’s Mile but came up agonisingly short. The Declaration Of War four year old has had two months off and goes well when fresh with all four of his wins off a break of 30 days or more.


Betting Strategy

Undone by Rock On Wood when they last met but Wyndspelle was savaging the line that day and will be suited by the step up to the mile more so than Rock On Wood.

 BACK – Wyndspelle for 5 units


Trentham Race 9 – Group 3 Wellington Cup

The Contenders

2 Gorbachev
Defending champion who is working nicely towards another good showing in this year’s Cup. He finished a close third in the New Zealand Cup (3200m) and has backed that up with a tough front-running effort to win over 2200 at Taupo last month. He’s one of only a couple of horses in the race that enjoys a front-running role.

4 Justamaiz
Untried at 3200 but has bolted in at his previous two starts which were both at 2400. With a distinct lack of speed in the race, jockey Sam Spratt will get every chance to control the race from out in front.

7 The Good Fight
He produced a back-me-next-time effort in the City Of Auckland Cup on New Year’s Day when he stomped home into third place. The step up to two miles looks like his go, and although the Shaune Ritchie-trained five-year-old who has yet to tackle 3200 metres his breeding suggests he will relish the trip. He’s by High Chaparral and out of a Zabeel mare.


Betting Strategy

It’s a real possibility that Sam Spratt will be left alone out in front aboard Justamaiz with very few runners in this race having a history of wanting to lead. Sam will need to judge the speed terribly wrong or face challenges for the lead to lose this.

 BACK – Justamaiz for 2 units


Current Results

Total Units Staked: 146.00

Total Units Returned: 118.32

ROI: -18.96%


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