Red hot field assembled for tonight's Waikato Flying Mile

By Michael Guerin

For a race that might only last 112 seconds tonight’s Dunstan Horse Feeds Waikato Flying Mile at Cambridge could very quickly develop into two separate races.

One could contain those who find themselves handy before the red-hot field gets to the winning post the first time, the other less competitive race could be for those who don’t.

Both divisions will be fascinating not only for punters tonight but those hoping for the ultimate guide to next week’s $1million Race by Grins.

Tonight’s sprint contains seven of the 10 starters in New Zealand’s richest race in eight day's time but there are three crucial differences: the stake, the distance and the preferential barrier draw.

The latter means supposedly the lesser-assessed horses tonight get the best draws so many of those up on the speed tonight will be those either not in The Race by Grins or not seen as the main winning chances next week.

So tonight could be the grand final for a few but Self Assured, Copy That and even Akuta could end back in the field with no way to improve and their driver’s thoughts could quickly turn to next week.

Putting it bluntly, with tonight’s race worth 4.5 percent of next Friday’s huge event don’t expect drivers to be pulling four wide and doing anything heroic down the back straight and risk being a spent force at the 200m with next week the far juicier target.

Local pacer Nicholas Cage will be one heading forward at the start tonight, while Chimichurri isn’t in the Race by Grins so he can be driven aggressively early, which could possibly aid Akuta getting a good run through from the second line.

The best drawn of the proven Group 1 horses is Old Town Road, who had no luck when resuming last start and almost certainly goes forward early tonight and end up the best placed of the favourites, while local Kango could join him in the early charge.

That leaves horses like B D Joe potentially working early as trainer Steve Telfer says he is ready for a solid hitout and with tonight’s race only a mile he won’t be scared to see him put in the race.

“He is really well and hasn’t had a race for a while so a searching run this week won’t hurt him,” says Telfer.

“With all that speed inside us I don’t think he can get across them at the start but we won’t be put off sending him three wide early with a trail.”

Considering most of the big names engaged tonight could pace quicker than 1:52 for a mile if horses like Old Town Road or B D Joe get forward easily enough they should have too much speed for those inside them and be too tough for those back in the field to catch.

So Old Town Road looks the most logical betting option, with driver Zachary Butcher having a great shot at a feature-race double as he should lead and win the three-year-old race with Merlin.

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