The new circuit at Pakenham has played a bit 'funky' prior to Christmas in it's short history, and has had a bit of a horses-for-courses feel about it.
That feel is fairly well described by the strike-rate of local trainer Phillip Stokes. Through 108 runners, Stokes strikes at 31% on his home deck. Stokes is a high-striking trainer full stop, and 108 runners is hardly a sample to be stamping as hard evidence of anything, but 31% hints at him being something like 1.72 times more lethal at home than his typical rate and even further ahead of other leading stables when they venture to Pakenham.
Course form, of course, isn't the be all and end all but clearly it doesn't hurt around here and neither does trainer form. At present, there are few yards up and humming like the Griffiths and De Kock stable and they bring one runner to Pakenham who happens to have a terrific record around there - Influential Girl.
Her last two wins have come at Pakenham, where she is three from five overall, and she was as good as she's ever been chasing a good one at Sandown last time in a strong-looking race for the class.
She's hardly the only horse in-form here, Zachaz is doing some nice things lately and Humble Pie walked in at the Valley for a yard that are that hot they are making Stokes and Griffiths look icy, but at $8.00 (likely a bit bigger if and when she gets to the start) she appeals.
Two weeks back at Ballarat we fancied The Astrologist coming off a strong performance at Flemington but he was slowly away and ultimately left with too much to do, closing into second but they don't pay on that...
He now gets to 1400m, where he won't be outpaced early, and there's not a great deal of obvious speed engaged so a postive position is there for the taking. If he takes it, he's got the talent to be taking care of these and prices around 2/1 are big enough to draw us back in for another go, frustrating as he may be becoming off two narrow defeats.
THE MELBOURNE MAIL
Bet Of The Day: Race 8 #5 The Astrologist @ $3.00
Each Way Play: Race 3 #18 Influential Girl @ $8.00+