Angelina Jolie looks the best bet today

06:14 AM 31 Dec 2013 NZDT
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Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie

For all the riches on offer at Alexandra Park today, it may be a filly who missed her shot at group one glory who ends up the best bet.

Angelina Jolie (R6, No 5) was luckless from wide draws in her heats of the Sires' Stakes Championship so has been relegated to the consolation, but the good news for punters is that makes her almost a Pick6 anchor.

A group two winner last season, she has the gate speed to lead and dominate her rivals today so with anything like a peak performance will be too good.

While anchors are hard to come by today, Whisper Jet (R11, No 10) couldn't have been more impressive last start and follows out the likely leader, in Chillysjustastrutter (2), who handed up to her under similar circumstances last start.

So that gives them a tactical advantage over Splendour (11), who is the best-performed mare in the race but could need luck to repeat her win on this day last year.

 

While the early trot races are stacked with class, the best support race of the day could be race nine, where Elios (3) and All Star Man (5) clash again after a stirring battle last start.

Both are running open class-type times but Elios should be able to wrest the lead easier today than the last time they clashed, so appeals as the better chance, while Give The Wink (9) should be running on but it's hard to see how he can get into a winning spot.

The Manukau Cup looks tactical because rival drivers probably realise they can't let Easy On The Eye (R10, No 6) sail to the lead because if they do they won't catch him.

Whether the likes of Pembrook Benny (5) or Franco Nelson (2) have the speed or desire to hold him out is the question of the race and after he sat parked to finish second in the NZ Free-For-All last month maybe it wouldn't matter.

But the horse who beat Easy On The Eye that day, Pembrook Benny, should never be underestimated on his home track, so is value if he gets to around $4.50 in a race where champion mare Bettor Cover Lover (7) adds glamour but faces a tricky draw.

As incredible as the depth is in the huge money age group races, Barry Purdon's runners hold the key.

The most pronounced trend in major pacing races over 2200m or shorter at Alexandra Park in recent years is that those who have to come wide have little chance as the leaders pace around 2:40 and don't come back to the pack.

That is worth remembering for trifectas and First4s, not that many people take First4s until they jackpot, because the pools can be quite underwhelming for harness First4s.

The second heat of the Young Guns contains little in the way of raceday form but the times Hughie Green (R2, No 8) has been running in public have him looking the goods.

He won well in a weak field on debut and he has trialled well after a short break, so can overcome the wide draw, with much interest in the richly bred Express Stride (2), who can really run and looks the one to beat.

The early trot races have a very Paul Nairn feel to them, with Any Old Way (R1, No 6) only having to trot all the way to probably win again, while Lotalov (R3, No 8) will give Prime Power (12) plenty to chase, although the latter deserves favouritism as he is going to be an open-class star.

And the National Trot could come down to whether defending champion Stig (R5, No 3) gets the lead.

If he does he should win, if he doesn't then Stent (8) is favoured to swoop to victory, with Irish Whisper (6) and Boizel (2) the dangers and The Fiery Ginga (5) always a place chance.

Courtesy of Michael Guerin and the New Zealand Herald

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