Flowering trees and plants make Hawke's Bay a bad place at this time of year for hay fever.
Just ask The Hombre, runaway winner of yesterday's $50,000 Hallmark Stud Newmarket Handicap at Ellerslie.
"It's been a problem for him for a while," said winning Hastings trainer John Bary. "The pollen gets to him badly and he gets a condition that is very like hay fever in humans.
"The key was bringing him up early. I've had him at the McKee stable all week and that's been a big help. I owe them a big favour."
There is an equine medication that works well against The Hombre's condition, but under the Rules Of Racing, it cannot be administered within five days of a race.
Last year Bary set The Hombre for the rich Railway Stakes. He finished second to Australian Atomic Force and this time Bary took a different approach.
"We made this race our grand final and it's worked out well. He may as well run in the Railway now he's here, but I'm not sure he'll be as dominating in that race. This was our race and I'd rate him just a runner's chance in the Railway."
Bary had another reason for wanting to win the Newmarket.
"My stepfather, Dick Lee, won the Newmarket back in 1978 with Pennevari. He's 78 and he still works for me mucking out and washing down every morning.
"When we left home he yelled out: 'Good luck'."
Devour went into yesterday's $20,000 Lindauer 1100 with manager Rick Williams in two minds.
"She'd had the one start and we hadn't decided whether to aim up or aim down," said Williams after Devour lasted best in a slog down the home straight to win the juvenile event.
"I guess now we'll be aiming upwards."
The track had only just been downgraded to a slow 7 after a sustained shower drenched Ellerslie.
Devour's job was made a lot easier when joint race favourite Dublin jumped from the No2 barrier end turned left to head to the outside rail. Dublin was a considerable distance from the body of the field, and to end up fifth, 1.3 lengths from the winner was superb.
Devour was one of the fillies her breeder, The Oaks Stud, decided to keep.
"We didn't send her to the sales because we figured they wouldn't pay a lot for her.
"We don't usually run 2-year-olds before the New Year, but we've run two, this filly and Recite and both have won $20,000 races."
Mark du Plessis rode Devour in her debut and this time chose to partner Dugan, who bucked early in the race and took no real part.
But du Plessis got his turn when smart Cambridge mare Petty Cury lasted gamely to score in the Cardinal Logistics 1200.
Co-trainer Ken Kelso thanked his attention to detail for Fix's victory in yesterday's $100,000 Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic.
On the way to the races, Kelso decided he wanted rider Vinny Colgan to ride the well-fancied Fix at the back of the field.
But after watching two lead-up races, Kelso became well aware that the rain-affected conditions had created an on-speed bias. He decided on opposite tactics.
"Thankfully, we changed things because I had earlier been determined to have her coming from the back of the field. That would have been suicide because anything in the second half of the field can't win."
Fix tracked the leaders and finished powerfully to claim the leader, The Darling One, and win attractively.
Kelso said he was unsure about backing up Fix in the New Zealand Bloodstock Royal Stakes on New Year's Day: "After winning this I haven't ruled that race out. I hadn't intended running and there is a strong chance I won't, but it's still there as an option."
Favourite Brave Centaur pulled punters through despite the wet conditions.
The instructions trainer Lance Noble gave rider Opie Bosson helped New Zealand's in-form jockey make the decision that was probably a given anyway.
"I don't want him involved in all the backwash," Noble told Bosson.
Leading was the best place to be yesterday and Bosson quickly made his intentions obvious.
The inside horses initially held him out: "He started over-racing as a result, but Opie being Opie, managed to get him back under him."
Brave Centaur did not look comfortable late, but had enough class to hold out the opposition.