Turn it up! Racing galore

From a $A14 million sprint to a 3000m grass-track cup, there is everything a racing fan could possibly want on offer this weekend. This province's interest is headlined by Otago's favourite son, Patrick Erin, attempting to boost his chances of being in the Melbourne Cup.

Here are nine races to watch this weekend:

The fast-class trot at Alexandra Park at 8.20 tonight

This is a betting proposition only for the bravest of punters.

Dominion contenders Temporale and Lemond have panels on this field, but their 40m handicaps over the race's 2200m distance make them extremely vulnerable.

What race tempo will be set up by the front markers is likely to decide their fate.

Temporale was massive when sitting outside Lemond and beating him when they met at Alexandra Park two weeks ago over a mile.

It will be interesting to see whether Lemond can turn that around over different circumstances tonight.

The Holmes DG Handicap at Alexandra Park at 8.50 tonight

Northern New Zealand Cup contenders are in short supply, but another can boost their claims in the great race with victory tonight.

Jack's Legend was horrid when making a rare mistake at the start in his return two weeks ago and needs to get back on track quickly.

No Doctor Needed was desperately unlucky behind the front-running Northview Hustler in the Spring Cup and the winner of tonight's race is set to come from this trio.

The listed Matamata Cup at Matamata at 3.16pm tomorrow

Sheriff produced a huge finish in his first run for the season at Hastings and is weighted to win this at 53kg.

Sheriff goes head to head with another classy 3yr-old from last season in Demonitization, who not only has to carry 1kg more than his main rival but also gives up a massive barrier advantage. Rider Danielle Johnson can slot Sheriff in wherever she likes from barrier 3, while Michael Coleman faces a tougher task from barrier 14.

The Ladyship Stakes Final at Gore at 4.12pm tomorrow

A good line-up of progressive fillies and mares are set for a mad dash over 1700m in the feature race at Gore tomorrow.

The wraps on The Empress were big before her debut win at Winton last month.

She faces a much tougher test tomorrow, but if she is as good as many think she is, she will be winning this easily.

Handy types Dallas Grimes and Delightful Deal will keep her honest.

The Taranaki Breeders Stakes at 4.40pm tomorrow

An even field of fillies and mares looks set to produce to set a highly competitive affair.

Southerners know exactly how good Excelleration can be after her efforts down here as a 3yr-old last season. Despite producing two decent returning runs, she is rated only an outside chance by bookmakers.

Hastings winner Livin' On A Prayer, last-start runner-up Yearn, and Darscape Princess, who has trialled nicely leading into her return, look set to fight the race out.

The Caulfield Stakes at Caulfield at 6.35pm tomorrow

Some really serious horses are lining up in this race and it will be a key form reference for the next few weeks in Melbourne. Former Kiwi and leading cups contender Humidor clashes with the boom Sydney pairing of Unforgotten and D'argento and a host of European raiders that have the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups and the Cox Plate on their agendas.

This is just one of 10 epic races at Caulfield on Sunday.

The Everest at Randwick at 6.15pm tomorrow

Everyone in Australia should know this race is happening, with the drama about it being promoted on the Sydney Opera House. The lead-up for the horses has been just as diabolical as several that have made the race have failed in their last starts and others have pulled out of it.

All of this drama just adds to the intrigue.

I am sticking with last year's winner, Redzel, despite his less-than-ideal preparation.

The St Ledger Stakes at Randwick at 7.35pm tomorrow

Former Otago galloper Patrick Erin will think he is back in New Zealand when he carries 59.5kg in tomorrow's 2600m staying test.

That shouldn't worry him and neither should the class of horse he is racing.

South Islanders will be cheering him on as he looks to again boost his Caulfield and Melbourne Cup rankings with another win.

The group 3 Methven Cup at Methven at 4.02pm on Sunday

This 3000m grass-track staying test is sure to test the fitness levels of pacers aiming to peak on New Zealand Cup day.

Main contenders Ultimate Machete and Star Galleria are unlikely to be at full fitness, but will still be tough to beat.

The race sets up perfectly for Forgotten Highway, who has race fitness and a 30m handicap advantage over that pair.

Look for A G's White Socks to put in an improved effort after missing the start in his last race.


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