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Platinum Invador (Leith Innes) returns at the head of the field after winning the 2020 City Of Auckland Cup at Ellerslie. Ryan Elliot, who is behind him on fourth-placed Concert Hall (green and yellow), has the ride on Saturday. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.

Platinum Invador a weighting special with favourite track and distance on Saturday

The relaxing of the Covid alert level in Auckland has played into the hands of Platinum Invador ($7) who looks a weighting special in Saturday’s $100,000 Avondale Cup at Ellerslie.

Trainer Lisa Latta was ruing the prospect of having to give Platinum Invador his final Auckland Cup lead-up at Te Rapa, the venue slated for the meeting had alert level three stayed in place, because he’s never raced there before.

But the horse has an impeccable record at Ellerslie and the way he galloped, right-handed, at Awapuni on Tuesday, left Latta convinced he is spot on for Saturday.

Working with Lincoln Star, who will accompany him to Auckland, the pair clocked 1.11.5 for 1000 metres, sprinting home stylishly the last 600 in 38.7.

“I couldn’t have been happier with his work and he is feeling very well in himself,” Latta said.

Platinum Invador’s form might look suspect on paper but that belies how well the horse is going and on Saturday he has just 54.5kg, the lightest weight he’s carried for 14 months.

When he was nosed out of the Avondale Cup (2400m) last year he lumped 59kg, and was giving winner Polzeath 7kg.

The last time Platinum Invador raced at Ellerslie over 2400 metres he was just pipped by Savy Yong Blonk. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.The last time Platinum Invador raced at Ellerslie over 2400 metres he was just pipped by Savy Yong Blonk. PHOTO: Trish Dunell.And when the photo finish operator found a 2000th of a second margin in favour of Savy Yong Blonk in the City Of Auckland Cup (2400m) on January 1, he carried 56.5kg.

In his only other two starts over 2400 metres at Ellerslie he has won the 2020 City Of Auckland Cup with 55.5kg and run an unlucky third in Crown Prosecutor’s 2019 New Zealand Derby with 56.5kg.

Comparisons with two of the other favourites in the Avondale Cup, In A Twinkling ($5) and Sound ($7), also show how well off Platinum Invador is on Saturday.

When Platinum Invador was pipped in the City Of Auckland Cup he had 56.5kg, one kilo lighter than fourth-placed In A Twinkling. On Saturday he gets 3.5kg off the Jamie Richards-trained stayer.

When only a head separated Sound (second) and Platinum Invador (third) in last year’s Auckland Cup, the Lincoln Farms horse had 56kg, 1kg more than Sound. On Saturday Sound has 59kg, 4.5kg more than Platinum Invador.

The Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard-trained eight-year-old has earned that weight with top staying runs like a win in last November’s Group II Sandown Classic (2400m) and seconds in the Hotham Handicap (2500m) and Bart Cummings (2510m).

But Sound has had only one lead-up race, when seventh over 1800 metres at Caulfield, since a two month break and could be expected to need the run.

Platinum Invador has always shown a quicker turn of foot than Sound and Saturday’s pilot Ryan Elliot knows the horse well now, having ridden him in his last three starts.

Latta is also buoyed by the fact Platinum Invador has drawn well in two, from where Elliot won’t have to spend any petrol finding a position.

While that allowed the horse to settle a little closer than usual last time at Taranaki, the 1800 metres was far too short for him and on Saturday he gets back to his pet trip of 2400 metres.

A win on Saturday would not see Platinum Invador penalised for the $500,000 Auckland Cup (3200m) on March 13 as that race is run at set weights and penalties.

The Ellerslie track was a dead 6 this morning but, with a fine forecast until the weekend, perfect conditions are expected on Saturday.

* Under level two protocols, only members and owners with horses racing can attend Ellerslie on Saturday.

Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Lisa Latta

Lisa’s comments

Saturday at Otaki

Race 2: Lincoln Kruz
1.08pm

“He galloped nicely this morning. Nine is a tricky draw but his best runs have been when he is ridden back. Hopefully they run along up front which will give him the chance to finish the race off. He looks fantastic and is well in himself.”

Race 5: Platinum Spirit
2.47pm

“He was disappointing last start but we have had his back done since, which was out, and he has really brightened up over the last 10 days. The top three look the ones to beat but he has raced well at Otaki before and the way he has bounced back I expect him to be very competitive. This race fits in well with the St Leger at Trentham in mid March. Sam O’Malley rides.”

Race 8: Father Lenihan
4.35pm

“He has drawn two and Hazel Schofer has been booked, claiming 2kg down to 60kg. He galloped well yesterday but this morning he was just a little bit off on his near side front and it is in his foot. We are on top of it, poulticing him up, so two days out from the race we hope he’ll get there but a decision won’t be made until race morning.”