Opinion: Racing matters: No Mosse . . .

So, Mosse, the darling - a guy can be a darling, surely - of the New Zealand thoroughbred season, won't be in the Telegraph Handicap at Trentham tomorrow.

The big O'Reilly gelding was on the fringes of the Telegraph field before trainer John Bell pulled him out of the group 1 sprint due to a bruised heel.

That might be the end of many people's futures bets, but I get the feeling it may not be the end of the furore over an unbeaten winner of five races missing out on a start in the group 1 Railway on New Year's Day, and getting no points for his second behind Rough Odds at Tauranga on January 2.

. . . for the Telegraph . . .
Rough Odds' trainer, Leo Molloy, went into bat for Mosse and Bell, as the minimal ratings shift for Rough Odds and the non-existent move for Mosse from the Tauranga run left them both dangling on the edge of a Telegraph start before Mosse's injury-related withdrawal.

Handicapping is subjective - although there is certainly some science to it - and I can understand the frustrations that owners and trainers have with a couple of handicappers in Wellington deciding their horse's immediate racing plans.

. . . but what else . . .
But the alternatives bandied about include the club having the discretion over adding runners to their big races. Danger there, Will Robinson. Sure, it may have got the likes of Mosse into the Railway off the back of his unbeaten record but the concern I have with club discretion is that accusations of bias can be cast forth from unhappy connections, and if there's one thing the industry is conscious of, that's integrity.

. . . can you do?
What's the answer, then? The handicappers have tried to to be more transparent, with a blog on the NZ Racing site over the last year (although it's not so easy to find on their upgraded site), and New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing will be issuing new handicapping guidelines among other initiatives as part of its response to recent complaints. Let's see what happens when the next rising star misses out.

The ace
Captain Kirk ran a brave second last week so racing sub-editor Jane Davidson will go again. She likes Dufellforte in the Wakefield Stakes (1200m) at Trentham tomorrow (race 3, 1.51pm). The gelding won well on debut over 1000m at Taranaki on December 27. Opie Bosson is the rider again.

- matt.smith@odt.co.nz