Walkinonsunshine vs Williamsons in today's Southland Trotting Oaks
By Jonny Turner
Tom Bagrie got a pleasant surprise when his star trotting filly Walkinonsunshine arrived in Invercargill ahead of the Southland Trotting Oaks.
The Northern Oaks winner isn’t the best traveller, but that wasn’t evident when she stepped off the float on Thursday afternoon.
“She can be a bit of a nervous traveller but she was really settled coming down here,” the trainer said.
“I couldn’t have been happier with the way she came off the float, which is a good start.”
Walkinonsunshine comes into Friday’s feature after running third behind race rival Isolate in the recent Sires Stakes Classique at Addington.
Though placed at Group Three level, the filly appeared to race a touch below her best.
“It is hard to be disappointed when you run third in a Group race, but we were hoping she would go a little bit better,” Bagrie said.
“She burnt early and did a lot of work to get across them.”
“We had a good look over her and there was nothing amiss.”
“Maybe it was second-up syndrome, we have stepped her work up since then and she seems to be responding.”
“We have taken her to work at the beach a few times and she has worked really nice.”
Phil Williamson’s pairing of Isolate and Aroha Kenny, plus Walkinonsunshine, look like the clear top three picks in the Southland Trotting Oaks.
Williamson goes into the race with full respect for Bagrie’s filly and her driver Blair Orange.
The master trainer has the best of the draws with Aroha Kenny in barrier 4, inside Isolate (6) and Walkinonsunshine (7).
But Williamson doesn’t see it as a huge advantage
“It does look a nice draw for her, but with only seven in it, it could be a tactical wee race.”
“I think Tom’s filly will be harder to beat this week.”
Isolate was hugely impressive in her recent Sires Stakes Classique win.
Though she was fresh up in that outing, punters shouldn’t expect her to strip a whole lot fitter on Friday.
“I wouldn’t think she would be much better, she trialled well leading into her last race and I was expecting her to go very well,” Williamson said.
“She is a great, big immature horse, so she is not one that will improve with racing.”
“She’s a nice filly and hopefully she can go well again.”
Krackaling looks to rate next best in the Southland Trotting Oaks, behind the top three picks.
The Brad Williamson trained filly worked hard in the Sires Stakes Classique, before fading late.
Check out our comprehensive betting guide with suggested bets for today's NSTC Dancinginthedark Trotting Oaks Day at Ascot Park
NSTC Punting Picks Race 1
Punters will be greeted by a well above average maiden line up to start the day.
Following an excellent debut, where she chased a smart winner into second placing, Torquay Street rates top pick.
Expect her to benefit from that first outing and be even sharper today.
Stablemates Joeking and Yosemite look quite evenly matched heading into their debuts.
There hasn’t been much between them in their trials and they look set to run well.
Lime In A Bottle is another who has trialled well ahead of her first start, she looks right up to featuring.
Selections: Torquay Street (8), Joeking (10), Lime In A Bottle (7), Yosemite (5)
Suggested Bet: Torquay Street – Win
NSTC Punting Picks Race 2
The timing looks to be right for the old boy Franco Huntington today.
His good recent efforts have him fit and ready for a big run, while landing barrier 2 looks a key advantage for him.
I’m Watching You loves this track, is racing well and should put in another honest shift.
Ellz Angel doesn’t bring the best form but her last start showed enough that she can get amongst it from barrier 1.
Sherwood Maggie and Chezz Dale rate next best.
Selections: Franco Huntington (2), I'm Watching You (7), Ellz Angel (1), Sherwood Maggie (9)
Suggested Bet: Franco Huntington – E/W
NSTC Punting Picks Race 3
Win betting may not be the way to go in this race with Wayward Angel looking a standout top pick.
She charged home late to run second at Winton and if she’s close enough to them today, she will be winning.
Mataura B B likes to race on the pace and from a handy draw he is a key place, quinella and trifecta option alongside the favourite.
A Major Starr is a must include, his latest trial on the track had real merit and he’s drawn perfectly in barrier 1.
The Wulver and Judith Gwenda are also two to consider in you combo bets.
Selections: Wayward Angel (6), Mataura B B (3), A Major Starr (1), Judith Gwenda (7)
NSTC Punting Picks Race 4
She’s probably not one you want to have your last dollar on, but on ability Fernleigh Blackbird has to rate top pick.
She’s been racing in far stronger fields recently and if she shows up with her best game she should be putting this field away.
The early speed of Sagwitch puts him right in contention, expect him to be in front and giving you a good run for your money.
Grinning Again has been very consistent lately an deserves respect.
With A Bang clearly has the ability to win this race but he is a more risky play given he hasn’t been racing at his best lately.
Selections: Fernleigh Blackbird (9), Sagwitch (8), Grinning Again (5), With A Bang (7)
Suggested Bet: Sagwitch – E/W
NSTC Punting Picks Race 5
With two runs under his belt, expect to see Our Pinnochio at peak fitness today.
There has been merit in those two recent outings and now he lands in a very winnable race.
Gift Card has taken on stronger fields than this recently and racing well, so he must be included.
Dwindle Star was just fair in her last start, but much better prior to that under similar conditions to this race, don’t drop her.
Steve’s formline has been great recently, expect another bold effort from her.
Selections: Our Pinocchio (8), Gift Card (7), Dwindle Star (5), Steve (4)
Suggested Bet: Our Pinocchio – E/W
NSTC Punting Picks Race 6
The draw for today’s feature race looks a key form factor and it has clearly fallen the way of Aroha Kenny.
She’s a brilliant beginner and a quality filly, so expect her to be right on the speed giving you a great run for your money.
Isolate was very impressive in her first start of the spring, she’s a big winning threat.
As is Walkinonsunshine, she was beaten in her last start but expect her to run a bigger race today.
Krackaling rates behind the top three picks and is one you must consider in Trifecta and First4 bets.
Selections: Aroha Kenny (4), Isolate (6), Walkinonsunshine (7), Krackaling (5)
Suggested Bet: Aroha Kenny – E/W
NSTC Punting Picks Race 7
There is plenty of talent to choose from in a cracking finale to today’s programme.
An epic comeback story could play out with U May Cullect looking well placed in this race.
Though there are plenty of queries around him given he’s been away from racing for such a long time, his fresh up run in the Hannon hinted he can win this race.
Miki Knows deserves big respect, he ran an excellent race fresh up and he should strip fitter and be right amongst it.
Street Art defeated Miki Knows at this track recently, he has strong winning hopes with the only question mark being how he will handle today’s standing start.
Joes Rock is a quality performer who has trialled well ahead of her return, don’t underrate her.
Selections: U May Cullect (8), Miki Knows (6), Street Art (4), Joes Rock (7)
Suggested Bet: Miki Knows – E/W