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One of the biggest days on the NZ racing calendar is Karaka Million Day and the 2020 edition comes around this Saturday at Ellerslie. The weather is fine, the track is good (4) and the rail is in the true position for the entire circuit.

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Race 1. (14:30) Collinsonforex Karaka Cup 2200m

Back Me

Fitter and up to 2200m, pretty keen here in the opener via 3 Intrigue (Bet Now: $2.90). Ran over 2100m here a tick under two weeks ago and she was one of the real eye catchers of the meeting when savaging the line from near last to run fourth to Tiptronic. Up to 2200m I like and the small field will ensure she won’t be far away. Clearly the one to beat.

Danger

2 Pinmedown (Bet Now: $3.00) is a Moroney/Gerard trained mare that steps back 200m in trip after contesting the Auckland Cup last time out when a mile back off the speed and was never really a winning threat but did make up good ground late. Small field certainly helps her cause and given her recent form, she’s well in at the weights.

Long Shot

1 Sentimental Miss (Bet Now: $3.30) is a class runner of the field and has the runs on the board after taking out the Wanganui Cup at Listed level last time. Was tucked in behind the speed under Kozzi Asano before getting clear in the straight and really attacking the line like a nice horse in winning. Gets J Mac on. Just has to contend with the impost. They look the standout trio.

Race 2. (15:10) Henley Park Mr Tiz Trophy 1200m

Back Me

The star that is 1 Catalyst (Bet Now: $1.14) makes his much anticipated 2020 debut and how exciting it will be to see him back. Hasn’t raced since giving his rivals a fair dinkum spanking in the 2000 Guineas at Riccarton, doing it with absolute ease and beating a quality field. Given a good break and his Matamata trial win was high class. Puts these away and comes to Melbourne to show Australia how good he is.

Danger

5 Bavella (Bet Now: $9.50) has been freshened up by Tony Pike, having not raced since the 1000 Guineas at Riccarton when back and finishing off well late in the piece behind Loire, who ran well in defeat last Saturday at Trentham, so the form doesn’t read too bad, but IMO, she would need to produce a career best PB to beat Catalyst.

Long Shot

6 Showoroses (Bet Now: $23.00) comes back in grade after racing at Group l level last time, attempting to lead throughout in the Eight Carat at this track/distance and fought on really well in defeat when third to Jennifer Eccles. Gets run of the race from gate one and she does seem much more effective at shorter trips.

Race 3. (15:50) Concorde Handicap 1200m

Back Me

4 Pretty To Sea (Bet Now: $3.40) is the class runner of the field that should take some beating here. Hasn’t raced since the Railway at this track/distance where she got a fair way back in the run and was never really a winning threat but liked the way she found the line late behind Julius. Mick Dee is back aboard and despite the tricky gate is a leading contender.

Danger

5 Santa Caterina (Bet Now: $3.60) is a Stephen Marsh trained mare who does tend to save her best for this track, as evidenced when a strong winner at this trip, sitting off the speed before easing wider and going to the line strongly in winning, with the margin somewhat flattering her rivals. Harder here, but she loves this track and gets a good run.

Long Shot

9 Molto Veloce (Bet Now: $11.00) is a stablemate of Sanra Caterina that comes through a race here on Boxing Day when sticking on well to run fourth to Pretty To Sea, beaten just over three lengths. Significantly gets a 6kg weight swing on that mare here and does draw better. 6kg is a massive weight pull, so I think she’s the value.

Race 4. (16:30) Karaka Million 2YO 1200m

Back Me

6 Play That Song (Bet Now: $1.90) is the one to beat for mine. Nigel Tiley trains this filly, who is 3/3 to start her career, the latest win coming here on New Years Day when winning the Eclipse and it was telling post race that Tiley said there was significant improvement left in the tank. Has the runs on the board and should take a power of beating.

Danger

2 Cool Aza Beel (Bet Now: $4.00) is a Te Akau colt that is on the quick back up after breaking the maiden tag last Friday at Tauranga, sitting just off the speed before being asked for the effort by Bosson and he drew clear late to bolt up in sharp time. Stable have a high opinion of this guy and he does have enormous upside to come.

Long Shot

10 Dragon Queen (Bet Now: $51.00) is still a maiden but if they do happen to go silly in front here, I think she’s one that will be one of the strongest at the end. Ran over this track/distance just under two weeks ago and worked home strongly from the back when a close up third to Vernazza. She’s got the makings of a good horse. Whether she needs more time or not remains to be seen.

Race 5. (17:08) Westbury Classic 1400m

Back Me

More than happy to have something each way on 11 Pierina (Bet Now: $10.00), who is three weeks between runs since contesting the Rich Hill Mile here and she was one of the real eye catchers from the back when fourth to Prise De Fer. Back to 1400m I like for this girl and if the speed is genuine, which it should be, she’ll be charging at the end.

Danger

1 Volpe Veloce (Bet Now: $3.30) is the class runner of the field and that will carry her a long way towards victory. Resumed in the Railway and while she was never really looking a winning threat from the 600m onwards, she stuck to the task pretty well in defeat behind Julius. Up to 1400m is a big tick for her. Just needs luck from the gate.

Long Shot

3 Kiwi Ida (Bet Now: $5.50) is a Team Parsons mare that is absolutely flying at the moment. Big win over 1400m at Riccarton two back before being freshened up and tackling the Manawatu Stakes at Awapuni and she produced an amazing finale from off the speed to score. Potentially a Breeders Stakes candidate, so good test here, but hard to knock the way she’s going.

Race 6. (17:42) Karaka Million 3YO Classic 1600m

Back Me

11 Probabeel (Bet Now: $1.85) for me. High quality filly for Jamie Richards that looks really well set up for this 1600m assignment after winning first up over 1400m at Awapuni where she was Winx odds and duly saluted against a somewhat moderate opposition. Last time she was at 1600m, she bumped into a high class animal in Funstar. That reads far superior to anything engaged here.

Danger

1 Harlech (Bet Now: $4.60) is a Moroney/Gerard trained colt that has a good overall record, hard fit and is in form. Was a short priced elect last time out at Group l level in the Levin Classic at Trentham and I thought Mick Dee gave the three year old every chance from just off the speed. Just found Travelling Light too good. Whether he beats Probabeel or not, not sure, but has race fitness under the belt.

Long Shot

5 Mascarpone (Bet Now: $41.00) is a son of Shooting To Win who comes through the Levin Classic as well off the back of some impressive wins from back in the run. I think he was ridden a touch too close that day and perhaps the class of Group l found him out when fifth. Gets a soft run from the inside gate here and has already been specked at odds.

Best Bets & Quaddie Tips

BEST BET: Race Two Number 1 Catalyst

NEXT BEST: Race Six Number 11 Probabeel

LONG SHOT: Race Five Number 11 Pierina

 

Quaddie Tips (Races Three Through To Six):

Leg One: 1, 4, 5, 9, 11

Leg Two: 6

Leg Three: 1, 3, 5, 11

Leg Four: 11

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