The Pick6 will be run over the last six races at the Waikato Racing Club’s meeting and Fine Line will contest the last leg, the Rating 65 event over 1400 metres.
The Align mare is coming off a last start sixth over 1200 metres at Te Rapa on July 28, where she drew wide and got a long way back in the early stages before storming home at the finish. It was a run that suggested she needs more ground, especially as her two previous starts had resulted in a win and a second over 1230 metres at Rotorua.
Fine Line has drawn perfectly at barrier six on Saturday. She seemed to cope well with the slow track conditions at Te Rapa last start and is likely to strike similar footing again. Apprentice Christopher Dell has ridden the four-year-old in her three starts to date but top jockey James McDonald takes the mount this time.
The other legs of Pick6 look to be even races but the third leg could be narrowed down to just two runners in Pussy Willow and Heat Blast.
Pussy Willow is resuming here from a spell after recording two hugely impressive wins from two starts last season. The O’Reilly filly won her debut over 1000 metres at Ruakaka on 5 January and then produced an outstanding performance to score a half-length win in the Group 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1200m) at Trentham three weeks later.
Trainer Stephen McKee has had plenty of top horses pass through his stable over the years, including the champion Sunline, and he made a huge statement after Pussy Willow’s last start Trentham win.
“I haven’t had too many better than her I can tell you,” McKee said at the time.
There are two things against Pussy Willow on Saturday however, the first being that she has only just turned three and will be taking on the older horses for the first time and the other is that her two wins have been on dead and good tracks and she will be striking slow footing for the first time.
If there is a chink in Pussy O’Reilly’s armour on Saturday Heat Blast could be the one to take advantage. The Captain Rio four-year-old is race fit, having recorded a win and a second on the Te Rapa track within the past five weeks. He carried 59kg when a close second over 1200 metres last start and drops to 55.5kg on Saturday.
Pick6 top chances
Leg 1 at 1:55pm: 7 Taats: Consistent mare who deserves to win another race after three 3rds from her last three starts and looked unlucky when finishing close up over 2100 metres last time. She has been placed on the Te Rapa track and copes well with rain affected tracks.
Leg 2: 7 Chapchick: Promising stayer who has won over 1950 metres and 1600 metres this time in and covered plenty of extra ground when a close 4th over 2100 metres on this track last start. Looks well placed in this field.
Leg 3: 10 Pussy Willow: Has been hugely impressive in winning her two starts to date, coming from well off the pace to swamp her rivals in the final 100 metres. Resuming here after a lengthy break but should be ready to fire again fresh up and drawn well.
Leg 4: 9 Fleur de Lune: Runner-up in this race last year and has enough natural speed to be in or near the lead throughout again, especially from a handy draw. Resuming from a spell but had a good hit out in an exhibition gallop at last Friday’s Te Aroha meeting and has trained on well since.
Leg 5: 16 Hollywood Angel: Looks close to a win after a 2nd and two 4ths in four starts to date. Finished strongly for 4th over 1200 metres on this track last start suggesting the extra 200 metres here will be ideal. Mark Du Plessis has the mount.
Leg 6: 6 Fine Line: Impressive when winning her debut over 1230 metres at Rotorua and has followed up with two encouraging performances since. Finished strongly over 1200 metres on this track last start and the step up to 1400 here should be ideal.