Weather throws Riccarton feature wide open
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 sit-sprint 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
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.
Sir Nate’s ability to handle a wet track is under question.