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ATOMIC FORCE cops Horror Draw in NZ Gr1 Railway Stakes

27 Dec 11

The task of being competitive in the Gr1 Blandford Lodge Railway Stakes 1200m in NZ on New Year's Day was made significantly harder on Wednesday morning when Top Weight ATOMIC FORCE (58.0kgs) with Nash Rawiller in the saddle received barrier 15 in a field on 19 (starts 14 + 5 emergencies) for this Sunday's time honoured race at Ellerslie which will be run under Set Weights and Penalties Conditions.

The Gr1 event is Race 8 scheduled for 5:45pm local time (3:45pm Sydney Time).

If on raceday only the emergencies come out of the field, he will start from barrier 11 in the field of 14 runners. Statistically over the 1200m trip, this is the least successful barrier position having produced just 4% of winners (19 wins) from 490 races since records were collated in 1997. Barrier 3 has the statistical advantage over the 1200m at Ellerslie where 13% of winners (64 wins) have started from gate 3.

To help Atomic Force offset the poor barrier we have leading Sydney rider Nash Rawiller in the saddle.

ATOMIC FORCE is in excellent condition and has not turned a hair since his arrival in NZ on 22/12. Stable rider and Foreman Shane Treweek has been reporting in several times a day to trainer Darren Smith, as the horse is prepared for Sunday's extremely tough assignment. However his trackwork is spot on and his blood profile shows him at the top of his game. Darren will head over to NZ shortly to ensure the finishing touches prior to raceday.

It's still a concern having to give all his competitor's weight and now, the tough draw being likely barrier 11 is another conundrum. Add in the niggling question at the back of connection's minds if he is as strong at 1200m as he is at 1100m, it is a real puzzle. However Darren Smith has him peaking for Sunday. He simply cannot have him any better.

The fact remains Atomic Force is the only Group 1 winner in the event. We will only know if that's good enough after the event.

The class of this field is on display:

Of the 14 that are in the field 11 are Stakes Winners whilst the other 3 are Stakes Placed.

Of the 19 that have accepted (14 Runners + 5 Emergencies) 11 Stakes Winners + 7 Stakes Placed (only the 3rd emergency is not a Stakes Performer)

Honour Roll of Runners:

  • ATOMIC FORCE - Gr1 winner and 2 x LR winner; Gr2 and twice Gr3 placed
  • DURHAM TOWN - Gr2 winner
  • EGO - Gr2 winner
  • ATAPI - 2 x LR winner; 4 x Gr1- twice Gr2, 1 x Gr3, twice LR placed.
  • FRAZZLE - Gr2 winner; LR placed.
  • DOUBLE BARREL - 2 x LR placed
  • THE HOMBRE - Gr3 winner; LR placed
  • UPSALA - LR winner; Gr2, Gr3, 2 x LR placed
  • GUISEPPINA - 2 x LR winner.
  • TWILIGHT SAVINGS - Gr3 winner and twice x LR winner; 2 x Gr1, Gr2 and Gr3 placed
  • MAE JINX - LR placed
  • ASPINAL - Gr2 and LR placed
  • COOL STORM - LR winner - Gr2 and 2 x LR placed
  • MI PAYDAY - 2 x LR placed
  • MAGIC BRIAR - LR winner
  • ROUGH ODDS - Gr2 and LR placed
  • CHARMA - Gr3 and LR placed
  • CAPTAIN KIRK - no black type form
  • KAPTAIN KIRKUP - 3 x LR placed.

With a NZ benchmark rating of 105, ATOMIC FORCE rates 6 points clear of his nearest benchmark rival being the 5yo Mare "Guiseppina" (Bm99) who carries 54.0kgs but she received barrier 18.

The NZ buzz horse is "Durham Town" who steps into this event off the back of an outstanding Gr2 win last start. Durham Town, a 4yo gelding has raced just 7 times for 5 wins. He was allotted 57.0kgs under SW&P so ATOMIC FORCE spots him 1.0kg and he has drawn under us in barrier 13.

3 horses are Benchmark 98 rated being: "Atapi" Barrier 2 55.0kgs, "Frazzle" Barrier 17 55.0kgs, "Twilight Savings" Barrier 9 54.0kgs.  

Whilst last start Stakes Winners are:  Durham Town, Cool Storm, Guiseppina.

Last Start Stakes Placed horses are: Upsala (2nd in Gr2 to Durham Town) Twighlight Savings (2nd in Gr3 WFA) Mi Payday (2nd to Cool Storm) Aspinal (3 rd in LR to Cool Storm, Mi Payday).

It's extremely difficult to line up the formlines between the 2 countries in the first instance and also difficult to gain a line through the local form. All we know is despite coming to the end of a long preparation, Atomic Force is a picture of health and happiness and all vital indicators suggest he is on target to run a competitive race.

We are unsure about the NZ Benchmark rating system. Atomic Force has an Australian rating of 109 (4 points = 2.0kgs higher than the rating the NZ Handicapper gave him). Internationally Atomic Force is rated at 115 points. This suggests the NZ rating is lower than Australian and International ratings because the NZ standard is considered to be stronger. Therefore we are extremely cautions of the assignment we are facing especially when 18 of the 19 acceptors are stakes performers and 11 are Stakes Winners.

However that's the quality you would expect to line up against in a Gr1 event of this prestige.

Come Sunday Atomic Force's connections will be proudly flying the Aussie Flag as we attempt to restore some tarnished sporting pride inflicted by the Kiwi's during the Rugby World Cup and the latest Cricket Test in Hobart where the Kiwi's won by 7 runs. However we have no illusions on the difficult assignment Atomic Force faces, taking on the talented Kiwi's on their home soil.

As at Wednesday morning the track has been put out as a Good 2 with the rail out 4.5 metres. The forecast is for rain over the next 4 days. We are happy to have a crack on the Good track surface but certainly won't be complaining if the rain comes as forecast.

Good luck to all the Connections.

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