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A bumper ten race card has been assembled for Ellerslie on Saturday, headlined by the Group l New Zealand Derby (2400m). The weather is fine, the track is dead (5) and the rail is in the true position for the entire circuit.

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Race 1. (10:25) Curraghmore 1600 (65) 1600m

Back Me

2 Star Tsar (Bet Now: $1.95) looks a near good thing in the opener. The Baker/Forsman stable trains this four year old, who debuted with a with a very sharp win over 1400m at Te Rapa before stepping up to the mile there when getting a mile back in the run but loved the way he found the line late to run third. Remaining at 1600m a little query, but he looks to have these covered.


1 Thomas Aquinas (Bet Now: $5.50) is a stablemate of Star Tsar that comes back to the mile after racing over middle distance trips at his past couple, the latest over 2100m at Te Rapa when attempting to lead throughout and gave a reasonable kick but tired like. Did show good ability as a two year old, performing at Stakes level, so if he found any form like that here, he could threaten.

Long Shot

4 Playsameanpinball (Bet Now: $11.00) is a Steve Cole trained son of Your Song that comes here off the back of a maiden win at Matamata, and while he didn’t beat much, it was the way he finished off that impressed me. Had to make a sustained run from the back and was entitled to probably fade away the final furlong but he kept surging and the win had a lot of merit to it. Doubt he beats Star Tsar but runs well.

Race 2. (11:00) Headquarters Viaduct Hcp 2200m

Back Me

Tricky race but leaning the way of 6 Dance Card (Bet Now: $2.70), who has been given a little freshen up since winning at this track/distance, beating a small field but the field had quality to it, including the talented mare Intrigue. Mick Dee lifted this mare over the line to get up in the last couple of strides. Gets gate one so does no work and should prove hard to beat again.


5 Voler Pour Moi (Bet Now: $3.10) is an O’Sullivan/Scott trained mare that hasn’t really fired a shot in two previous attempts at Ellerslie but she seems to be in really good form this time around that I’m giving her another chance. Outstayed them to win last time out over 2100m at Te Rapa and that form has been franked with the Avondale Cup winner coming out of it. Holds her form, she’s right in the mix.

Long Shot

3 Starrybeel (Bet Now: $6.00) has to be given another chance. He comes through the Avondale Cup over 2400m here when seemingly getting every chance but in saying that did pull quite hard off the speed which meant he had nothing left for the straight. This looks a much easier assignment and with better racing manners can take this out.

Race 3. (11:35) Vertical Logistics (bm65) 1400m

Back Me

11 Shoshone (Bet Now: $4.60) gets another chance for me. Such an impressive debut winner over 1200m here during the Winter before being spelled. Trialled well and resumed over 1200m at Matamata when on speed and I thought she was most disappointing in the straight, not the same horse that won here so well at start one. Hoping that with the run under the belt and back to Ellerslie, she can bounce back.


3 Honesty (Bet Now: $8.00) is a daughter of Postponed for the Rogerson camp that was six weeks between runs when racing over 1200m at Matamata last time out and I really liked the way she found the line from the back when third to Chosen Peak. You’d like to think she’ll take good improvement from that and is a winner at this track/distance.

Long Shot

5 Splendido (Bet Now: $15.00) is one that can add value to multiples. Team Wallace trains this seven year old, who I think has his best days behind him rather than in front, but he’s still good enough I think to be around the mark. Can pull out a good run fresh and is a five time placegetter at the track. Would love some more give in the track for him.

Race 4. (12:10) o Racing Syndications (bm72) 1200m

Back Me

With fresh legs back to 1200m in a very winnable race, I’m in the corner of 9 Manchu (Bet Now: $7.50). She hasn’t raced since the Eight Carat Classic over the mile here back on Boxing Day when on speed and fighting on strongly to run fourth to a top class filly in Jennifer Eccles. Depth here clearly nowhere near as strong, and if she can get luck from the draw, she’s the one to beat.


4 Veine D’Or (Bet Now: $9.50) is a daughter of Darci Brahma who was kept pretty safe in betting when resuming over 1200m at Tauranga and worked home strongly from the back when second to Actus, beaten three lengths. Does meet that horse 1kg better off and has more upside to come. If she can improve off that, she’s a contender.

Long Shot

2 New York Jazz (Bet Now: $14.00) has been a real model of consistency this time in. Three weeks between runs since racing over 1400m at Te Rapa where he looked to get the run of the race and I thought was game in defeat when second to Rocket Fuel. Think he’s much better suited at 1200m and should get a sweet trip from the draw.

Race 5. (12:45) G Thomson Antique (bm82) 1500m

Back Me

5 Crafty Jess (Bet Now: $6.50) is on the seven day back up for the Baker/Forsman stable. Ran over the mile at Matamata last Saturday where she got back to near last in the run on a day where on speed/rail was certainly no disadvantage. Loved the way she found the line late, finishing third. Back in trip is a little query, but if the tempo is genuine, she’ll be strong at the end.


9 Jip Jip Rock (Bet Now: $5.00) is another that is on the quick back up. This mare comes through the same race from Matamata last Saturday mentioned above. She was put on speed and seemed to get every chance but battled away really well in defeat, beaten narrowly by Tweedledee. Good record at Ellerslie and is well in at the weights after the claim.

Long Shot

Want to give 10 Iron Eagle (Bet Now: $10.00) a chance here at odds. This four year old did a bit of work in the run over the mile here last time out and was entitled to drop right away, but kept grinding it out and was far from disgraced despite beating just one runner home in the field of eight, beaten under two lengths. More economical run this time around and he can bounce back.

Race 6. (13:20) Mckee Family Sunline Vase 2100m

Back Me

3 Karalino (Bet Now: $6.00) is on top for me. This filly was good late over the mile two back at Pukekura before going to the Avondale Guineas here and thought she was far from disgraced when fifth to Dragon Leap, who is one of the leading contenders for the Derby. If she can sit that little bit closer in the run this time around, think she’ll take some holding out.


2 Seven Seas (Bet Now: $4.60) has really burst onto the scene as an Oaks contender for Tony Pike. Gave them an absolute spanking two back at Pukekura in breaking the maiden tag before proving that was no fluke when winning the Oaks Prelude. Think this race will be a true guide as to whether or not she’s a contender or pretender for the Oaks.

Long Shot

4 Pineapple Girl (Bet Now: $11.00) is a knockout chance for sure at odds. Spanked her rivals at Sale to win her first race before being transferred to NZ for the Oaks, where she was good at Te Rapa behind Jennifer Eccles. Should do no work from the barrier and with that recent run under the belt, that should hold her in good stead for this.

Race 7. (13:55) Mufhasa Fasttrack Stakes 1300m

Back Me

2 Run To Perfection (Bet Now: $2.70) is a quality colt who is five weeks between runs since racing in the Mr Tiz Trophy over 1200m here where he was good from the back when second to an okay animal in Catalyst, who does appear to have some ability…that’s just about A1 form for NZ racing at the moment, so with that in mind, has to be rated highly here.


Think back to 1300m will really suit 3 Hasstobegood (Bet Now: $5.00). Stepped up to the mile in the Karaka 3YO Classic last time out and while he was well held into third behind Probabeel, he still ran a very good horse in defeat. Drops a fair bit in depth here and like him back to a sprint trip. Looks one of the hardest to beat.

Long Shot

8 Avadane (Bet Now: $12.00) is a daughter of Savabeel who looks a progressive type. Ran over 1200m here last time out in a field of six, settling last in the run before getting into clear and producing a really good finale to get up and win. Ran very sharp late splits in winning there, and here has gate one to use. Think she’s right in contention.

Race 8. (14:30) Haunui Farm King's Plate 1200m

Back Me

Have to be with 7 Spring Heat (Bet Now: $4.40). Really good change up speed saw her win first up before going to the Telegraph where she was very good in defeat when third to Avantage. Back to a Mares race with fresh legs, gee she looks really hard to beat, especially given there appears to be good early speed engaged.


6 Pretty To Sea (Bet Now: $8.00) is five weeks between runs for Stephen Marsh since contesting the Concorde at this track/distance when back off the speed and worked home pretty well without really threatening when a close up fifth to It’s Destinys Child. Three time winner at the track and does seem an effective mare with fresh legs.

Long Shot

If they go silly in front here, look out for 5 Evalina (Bet Now: $12.00) to launch at them late. Quality mare who has been freshened up since contesting the Telegraph at Trentham where she got a mile off them but closed off strongly and produced really good late splits behind Avantage. If she’s within range on the turn, she’s certainly good enough.

Race 9. (15:05) Nz Derby 2400m

Back Me

Does look a race in two on paper but I’m firmly in the corner of the filly 16 Two Illicit (Bet Now: $2.50), who is in red hot form leading into this having won her past two, the latest coming in the Waikato Guineas at Te Rapa where she spanked a last start Group l winner, Travelling Light, by over seven lengths, and did it without being fully extended. Clearly the one to beat IMO.


The wraps are pretty big on 1 Dragon Leap (Bet Now: $2.45) but he will need to be every bit as good as what people think he is given he will likely be giving Two Illicit a start. His win in the Avondale Guineas was dominant and seemingly had something in reserve if required. If he can slot in the first half of the field, he can win. Not sure he can sit in the second half and beat Two Illicit if she brings her best.

Long Shot

2 Sherwood Forest (Bet Now: $13.00) is a Tony Pike trained three year old that ran third to Dragon Leap in the Avondale Guineas and while he had every chance on speed, he battled away and did a good job to hold onto a placing. The way I’m reading this race, think he can slide over quite comfortably, slot in near the speed and we know Michael Walker loves to come back home for a big race win.

Race 10. (15:40) Barfoot & Thompson (bm72) 2100m

Back Me

I’ll take a punt on 10 Patsys Lass (Bet Now: $19.00) in the get out. Eamonn Green trains this mare, who was an impressive winner at Matamata two back before racing there again last Saturday and just put that flop down to the wet track. She struggled. Hopefully the footing is firmer this time around for her and off the win two back, she’s a leading chance.


Up to 2100m should suit the Jamie Richards trained 2 Shezathinka (Bet Now: $9.50), who should have finished closer two back at Te Rapa when having little luck. Then raced over the mile here two weeks ago and was good when near the speed, just failing to get the job done when a close up third. Think 2100m suits and is really well in after the claim.

Long Shot

9 London Banker (Bet Now: $9.00) is going about his business quite nicely this time. Stuck on gamely two back at Matamata before going to Te Teko when given a lovely ride off the speed by Coleman and the four year old came with a well timed run to win. Seems to be putting it together this time in and think he can measure up.

Best Bets & Quaddie Tips

BEST BET: Race Nine Number 16 Two Illicit

NEXT BEST: Race One Number 2 Star Tsar

LONG SHOT: Race Six Number 3 Karalino


Quaddie Tips (Races Seven Through To Ten):

Leg One: 2, 3, 6, 8

Leg Two: 5, 6, 7, 12

Leg Three: 16

Leg Four: 1, 2, 9, 10, 11

$50 Investment = 62.50% of the dividend if successful

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