Hot pot will be tough to hold out

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On what we have seen so far of Te Akau Shark (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle {IRE}), he seems likely to justify his short odds in Wednesday’s G2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile at Riccarton.

The 4-year-old won his first two starts last season to earn a crack at the G1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas in which he finished fourth and less than two lengths off his stablemate Embellish (NZ) (Savabeel).

The Jamie Richards-trained chestnut opened his current preparation with a first-up success at Hastings and returned on the last day of the Hawke’s Bay carnival to easily put away the highly-regarded Love Affair (NZ) (Savabeel) in the G3 Red Badge Spring Sprint.

If there is a concern on Wednesday it is his place in the handicap. He rises five and a half kilos to 58.5kg, but that does allow stable rider Opie Bosson to take the mount.

Weight concession

He will have to concede four kilos to the stakes-placed Livin’ On A Prayer (NZ) (Redwood {GB}) and she is at the top of her game.

An open handicap winner three runs back, she has subsequently finished runner-up in the G3 Taranaki Breeders’ S., and was again second in the Listed Pegasus S., on Saturday.

Livin’ On A Prayer was doing her best work late over 1000 metres and, providing she handles the back-up, she could prove troublesome to the favourite over the extra distance.

Son Of Maher (Al Maher) and Shadows Cast (NZ) (Per Incanto {USA}) dead-heated for first in this race last year with the former a last-start fifth when he got back in a slowly-run race and did all he could.

Tardy beginning no help

Shadows Cast didn’t help himself in his lead-up outing when he missed the jump and got going late to finish seventh, but only three lengths behind the dual Group 2 winner Ocean Emperor (NZ) (Zabeel {NZ}) at Awapuni.

Shane Brown produced Casaquinman (NZ) (Per Incanto {USA}) to win the Listed Pegasus S., on the first day of the carnival and Bring To The Block (NZ) (Guillotine {NZ}) looks a top chance for the stable in the G3 Valachi Downs Canterbury Breeders’ S.

She sealed her passage south with a dominant win at Trentham and, given her customary pattern to drift off the pace, the roomy Riccarton course will suit her ideally.

Victory would also be a major triumph for rider Dylan Turner, who partnered stablemate Casaquinman on Saturday.

Smart start to career

The Precious One (NZ) Darci Brahma {NZ}) has barely put a foot wrong during her short career with four wins from six appearances.

The well-bred mare—her mother The Jewel (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}) won the G1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas on the course—has drawn to get an ideal run.

Bella Court (NZ) (Per Incanto {USA}), who ran fourth 12 months ago, will strip a fitter mare for her recent resuming fifth at Rotorua. She is one of two chances for race sponsor Kevin Hickman, whose gold jacket will also be carried by San Spratt aboard Lake Chalice (NZ) (No Excuse Needed {GB}).

She has won two of her last three starts and all three of her career wins have come on the course.

Good going a must

Any drying of the track will boost the chances of the co-topweight Ferrando (NZ) (Fast ‘n’ Famous) in the G3 Lindauer Stewards’ S.

Fast ground suits the Group 1 performer’s free-running style as he showed when resuming at Otaki. He went straight to the front and coasted clear with a minimum of effort.


He shares the top of the handicap with Signify (NZ) (Perfectly Ready) and the 2017 G1 Telegraph winner was a last-start fourth at Ashburton, a decent effort after the rider’s saddle shifted 600 metres from home.

Enzo’s Lad (Testa Rossa) won this year’s Telegraph and he warmed up for the Stewards with a storming run for third last time.

The diminutive Prom Queen (NZ) (Super Easy {NZ}) is racing well and loves Riccarton while Casaquinman faces a rise in class, but he was impressive in the Pegasus with the only question mark his ability to produce again in the space of four days.