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The absence of Inferno has opened up the Clare Memorial Gold Cup for Alpine Heights at Omakau today.
The 6yr-old Spartacus gelding was second to Inferno in Tuesday's Waikouaiti Cup over a distance only just short of today's 2000m. Alpine Heights had a 4.5kg weight advantage on Inferno and stuck on gamely to finish less than a length off the talented mare.
Inferno's scratching from today's $15,000 feature also assists Alpine Heights, as Inferno was the top weight by 5kg, with the rest of the field on 54kg. Alpine Heights, at 85 on the New Zealand rating scale, is now at equal weights with horses rated well below him, such as Deceptive, who is rated at 64.
There were steady showers throughout the day at Omakau yesterday, and co-trainers John and Karen Parsons will not want the track to be worse than dead, as Alpine Heights is winless on a slow or worse track from eight attempts.
Pazejan is closest to Alpine Heights on the ratings scale, but will also need a dead or better track, and is hampered by a wide draw of barrier nine.
News Flash has been re-handicapped to 60.5kg for his assignment in the rating 65 benchmark 2000m after his win at Waikouaiti on Tuesday - his second win in succession. His original weight for today's race was 58.5kg.