Five things to look for at Addington on Friday

By Michael Guerin

1: Just how good are the open class pretenders?

There is no doubting the Allied Security Maurice Holmes Vase has some good horses, maybe even very good horses, in it but are they going to be good enough. The open class scene and the build-up to the New Zealand Cup is going to be completely dominated by the big three of Copy That, Self Assured and Akuta because they have won all our Cups in the last two years. Challengers like B D Joe and Old Town Road are real threats but are the horses we see in Friday’s feature even up to them? If they aren’t, they won’t be beating the big three in the races that matter.

2: Are small stables really able to foot it?

Take the big names mentioned above and add the likes of the favourites this week in Anything Goes, Allamericanlover and even Smiffy’s Terror and you still have big, premiership winning stables as your main players. So are the days of a Lorraine Nolan (Yulestar) or Bryan Macey (Homin Hosed) or even Mike Berger and Warren Rich (Gracious Knight) winning the Cups gone? You could argue John Dickie isn’t a big-team trainer these days with only about 12 horses in work but he has decades of Group 1 pedigree so lets hope the smaller stables get a sniff so can fly their flags come Cup day. While punters might not enjoy the Whites, Rodger Austin or even Geoff and James Dunn winning this Friday’s feature, I would.

3: Should Allamericanlover really be giving the boys a start on Friday?

I get the Maurice Holmes being programmed as a discretionary handicap in case one of the really big names turned up but is Allamericanlover really a big name? She may be one in the mares ranks and she did win a Group 1 last season but that was only against the girls. The reality she is she has never won an open class, open sex race of any sort and she should be on the front line with the boys.

4: How good is Vessem?

An unbeaten All Stars juvenile this far into the season is always going to attract attention and scare the bookies so Vessem will be short in Race 6 on Friday night. But while he must be pretty good it is hard to work out just how good. Two of his wins came in okay but not frightening fields down south and unlike many All Stars freshman flyers of the past he didn’t venture north early in the year so it is impossible to rate him versus the Young Guns form. This Friday will be a good test against a couple of handy race-hardened rivals and if he wins maybe he retains top juvenile status. But you get the feeling there are a lot of chapters to be written in the story of this juvenile season and Vessem won’t be the hero in all of them.

5: Are the next tier of southern three-year-old fillies that good?

“Good” here is a relative word because this crop both last season and this has been completely dominated by Millwood Nike and some of the horses who have chased her home like Kahlua Flybye and Seaclusion aren’t in Race 5 tomorrow. But there are plenty of in-form horses with all but two of the starters having a win in their formline. The question is can any of them take the next step to being a Group 1 contender, a rating only Advance Party and Aardiebytheseaside can really say they have lived up to yet. Or are we just going to to find out who the third or fourth best filly in the country is in the first Nevele R heat of the season.If that.

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