THE Group 3 Counties Cup is one of the most sought-after staying races in New Zealand and we have free tips, form and odds for every race on the card.
South Auckland’s Pukekohe Racetrack hosts a nine-race card which also features the Group 2 Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes and the Listed Counties Bowl.
It’s going to be a great day of thoroughbred racing action and punters can get involved with Neds.com.au, which is offering up to $500 in bonus bets when you sign up.
Race 1 – R85 Handicap (2400m)
Mongolian Legend was a consecutive winner earlier this campaign and it gets into this race well on the weights. The Baker/Forsman-trained four-year-old has since stepped up to this grade and finished fourth twice, but although disappointing as a $2 favourite last start, it should be included here.
El Fernando capped off decent form with a big win at Ellerslie last start. The Mark Brooks-trained runner is having its first start on this track, but the lengthy straight should be ideal. The confidence is up now and it could score again.
Race 1 tip: Mongolian Legend to win at CrownBet.com.au
Race 2 – Open Handicap (1600m)
Snapshot hasn’t been in the best of form recently, but trainer Danica Guy is confident. The seven-year-old gelding has won six of its 14 starts, but most of those came last year. Punters should be forgiving of its recent run at Tauranga and stick with the quality type.
Camino Rocoso has been backed and beaten at its last three runs, but dropping in grade will help its cause. The son of Shocking finished third at Ellerslie earlier in the year at stakes grade and it faced a tough field last time out, but this is easier and it will surely have its admirers again.
Race 2 tip: Snapshot to win at Neds.com.au
Race 3 – Ashford Lodge Stakes (1100m)
Pinot Grey was a smart winner on debut for Te Akau and it looks to have above average potential. The Autridge/Richards-trained two-year-old scored by five lengths at Otaki and the daughter of Burgundy never gave its rivals a chance. This is harder, but we’re expecting short odds to be on offer again.
Lite My Cigar is on debut for Brendon Hawtin after winning a trial at Te Aroha. The well-bred son of Darci Brahma x. Smoulder has great sprinting blood lines and it should get every chance off an inside barrier.
Race 3 tip: Pinot Grey to win at Neds.com.au
Race 4 – R85 Handicap (1400m)
Love Affair is a winner of three from four starts and it looks a nice type in the making. The Baker/Forsman-trained four-year-old won by 3.5 lengths last time to the races and its only defeat was when it was posted three wide with no cover. Expect a big effort here.
Devise is looking to remain unbeaten at this distance and its win at Ellerslie last start was tough. The Shaune Ritchie-trained four-year-old finished eighth in the ATC Oaks at Randwick last season and although that came over the staying distance, it looks best suited to the shorter trips.
Race 4 tip: Devise to win at Sportsbet.com.au
Race 5 – Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m)
Cote D’Or has finished out of the money in only two of its 14 starts and it’s searching for five straight wins on Saturday. The five-year-old scored a three-length win on this track in September before producing a huge finish to win at Matamata last start. It doesn’t mind rock hard tracks and it should be well-liked in the betting.
Francaletta has won six of its eight starts and it returned to form with a stylish weight-for-age win at Hawera last start. The mare by High Chaparral has since been freshened up at the trials for this and it’s one of the horses to watch in New Zealand at the moment.
Race 5 tip: Francaletta to win at CrownBet.com.au
Race 6 – R75 Handicap (1600m)
Comin’through isn’t quite as good as the Australian runner with the same name, but it produced a strong finish to run third at Ellerslie last month. The Logan/Gibbs-trained four-year-old was considered good enough to run in Australia, but its best finish was running fifth in the Queensland Derby. That should be strong form for this grade.
Shadows was a booming winner last start for Stephen McKee. The gelding won by 3.5 lengths in a one-sided race at Te Rapa and it has been a consistent type throughout its career. Getting the 2kg claimer will help and it could go back-to-back.
Race 6 tip: Comin’through to win at CrownBet.com.au
Race 7 – Counties Cup (2100m)
Maygrove showed all of its ability at Awapuni last start when beating a quality field. The winner of eight races and more than $400,000 in stake money, the seven-year-old gelding always performs well over this distance and it placed at its only other run at Pukekohe. Despite carrying 60kg, it looks tough to beat.
Saint Emilion isn’t quite firing on all cylinders this season, but it’s always around the mark. The Baker/Forsman-trained stayer has won 11 of its 33 starts, which is a good clip, and despite never seeing Pukekohe before it should enjoy the track. It has the ability to lead all the way.
Race 7 tip: Maygrove to win at Neds.com.au
Race 8 – Counties Bowl (1100m)
Go Nicholas would have appreciated having the run under its belt last start and it should be at full fitness now. The Shelley Hale-trained six-year-old battled on well behind Rocanto at Ellerslie and it was contesting group one races last preparation. Carrying 53kg is going to bring it right into contention.
Fully Funded might need some time to show its best, but it has had three trials in preparation for this. That suggests that connections are wanting the miles under its belt before the Counties Bowl. Its last two wins were superb and jockey Sam Spratt is coming off a big day at Riccarton.
Race 8 tip: Go Nicholas to win at CrownBet.com.au
Race 9 – R65 Handicap (1400m)
Howbowdat did well to finish second at Ellerslie last start after travelling wide throughout. The five-year-old has been an enigmatic type throughout its career, but the raw talent is there and Pukekohe is going to suit nicely.
One Prize One Goal has drawn deep, but it has placed on this track before and it’s coming off a handy run for second at Te Rapa. The four-year-old has the ability to drop back from the draw and storm home.
Race 9 tip: Howbowdat to win at Neds.com.au