Trainer Patrick Campbell runs a small operation in Hastings but that doesn't mean he doesn't recognise big acts when they roll into town.
"Well, it's a small field and, obviously, the hot [pick] is Te Akau Shark," says Campbell before his horse, Scandalo, lines up in the feature 1300m open handicap $20,000 Russell Roads City of Hastings Cup at 3.12pm today.
"Whether he's good enough to beat Te Akau Shark, I don't know," he says of the three-year-old Rip Van Winkle gelding, under the tutelage of Cambridge trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards, who is a New Zealand Derby hopeful and will be under Australian jockey Katelyn Mollyon.
"She's right in the frame of the top lady riders in Australia," says Campbell of the 23-year-old Victorian jockey, who is the partner of Kiwi rider James McDonald.
Mollyon, who has won the group one William Reid Stakes (1200m) on Silent Sedition, will also ride Fashionably, Trendsetting and Wide Awake here. She is the grand-daughter of multiple Caulfield Cup-winning jockey Mick Mallyon.
Campbell is happy with his five-year-old Shocking gelding, Scandalo (Australia), who jockey Darryl Bradley will start from the No 6 barrier.
"He's coming off a bit of solid form so I expect him to race well but whether he's good enough top beat those two, again I don't know."
The Nigel Auret-trained Petite En Jeu, he reckons, also will be the hardest to beat in what appears to be a modest field of four after Autridge/Richards withdrew Savabeel mare Grazia.
Campbell's other entry, Lady Guinness (apprentice Holly Andrew), is in the 1600m, rating 75 Kahungunu Kapa at 3.57pm.
The four-year-old Falkirk mare receives a similar endorsement from him to Scandalo.
He expects the Autridge/Richards' trained Wide Awake, and Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman's Princess Sapphire (apprentice Hairi Marzuki) to give Lady Guinness a good workout.