Weather throws fea­ture wide open

Train­ers caught on the hop by tor­ren­tial rain

Hawke's Bay Today - - Sport - Rac­ing Michael Guerin

Top trainer Lisa Latta has is­sued pun­ters with a warn­ing over the great mis­nomer in to­day’s $500,000 2000 Guineas at Ric­car­ton.

Pun­ters and book­ies have been sent scur­ry­ing for their form guides look­ing for wet weather form af­ter down­pours in Can­ter­bury yes­ter­day saw Ric­car­ton rated a Slow9 last night. While the rain had stopped, the prospect of a cool day means very lit­tle like­li­hood of the track get­ting back to any­thing like a 6 or even a 5.

That has thrown the Guineas into con­fu­sion with the train­ers of many of those at the head of the mar­ket sug­gest­ing they will be guess­ing as much as pun­ters.

Latta is one of the few train­ers with a se­ri­ous chance who ac­tu­ally has win­ning form on a heavy track, with Sir Nate hav­ing ac­com­plished that on de­but last sea­son.

But the Cen­tral Dis­tricts trainer says when it comes to Sir Nate and se­ri­ous wet tracks all may not be what is ap­pears.

“He won that race as a two-yearold on a heavy track against just two ri­vals but he never re­ally han­dled it, he just got there on abil­ity,” warns Latta.

“And the last time he raced on a wet track at Welling­ton (last start) even though he won on a dead6 Johnathan (Parkes, jockey) said he didn’t re­ally han­dle it ei­ther.

“So while his form in the wet might look good I’m wor­ried to be hon­est.”

Latta’s con­cerns dou­bled as the rain came down be­cause Sir Nate has the ace draw, which looked a bless­ing on Wed­nes­day but could be a hand­i­cap by the time the three-year-olds jump from the 1600m start point to­day.

Per­haps her only so­lace is most of her ri­val train­ers feel the same.

Of those well in the mar­ket, favourite Madi­son County has won on a slow track, al­beit in a maiden race to end his ju­ve­nile sea­son in April.

He did race slightly dour in a sit­sprint Sarten Memo­rial at Te Rapa last start and that cou­pled with his charg­ing Hawke’s Bay Guineas win sug­gests the stamina test of a wet track 1600m shouldn’t bother him.

So he still de­serves favourite even though pun­ters might be ex­pected to rally for the un­beaten Dawn Pa­trol, both of whose wins have come in daz­zling fash­ion on soft tracks, al­beit the last one at Mata­mata on a sur­face which may have been bet­ter than of­fi­cially listed.

He is still very raw for a 2000 Guineas but the pieces of the puz­zle are fall­ing to­gether nicely for him and it would sur­prise to see his $6 overnight quote re­main should the track not im­prove.

While the wet track has thrown a span­ner into the works of the first clas­sic of the sea­son it will make punt­ing tricky all day and could raise some real dis­crep­an­cies be­tween first day form and what un­folds later in Cup week, when Ric­car­ton race again on Wed­nes­day and then next Sat­ur­day.

If Latta and plenty of her ri­val Guineas train­ers are un­sure what to ex­pect Cam­bridge horse­man Stephen Marsh is al­most dread­ing to­day’s stay­ing fea­ture, the $75,000 Met­ro­pol­i­tan with favourite Fe­laar.

The promis­ing stayer was set for next Sat­ur­day’s New Zea­land Cup and to­day’s race was the ob­vi­ous chance to boost his rank­ing from 23rd into a guar­an­teed Cup spot. Un­til the rain came.

“He hates it,” says Marsh. “He just doesn’t seem to let go in the wet at all but we have to start him be­cause he is out­side the 18 for the Cup next week, which is the main aim.

“So while like a lot of other peo­ple I am hop­ing the track im­proves, if it doesn’t we could be in trou­ble.

“The one thing we do have go­ing for us is a light weight and even if he can run in three it helps us get into the Cup. But I couldn’t tip him with any con­fi­dence now.”

PHOTO / RACE IMAGES

Sir Nate is one of the few starters in the 2000 Guineas that might be able to han­dle a sod­den track — but form can be de­ceiv­ing.

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