New Zealand's chances of a group one treble at Melton on Saturday received two boosts and a giant setback yesterday.
Kiwi harness horses will be among the favourites for the Hunter Cup, Australasian Trotting Champs and Victoria Derby.
Yesterday's draw gave them the perfect opportunity to win two of those great races, but the Victoria Derby may now be out of reach.
While three Kiwis will start in the classic, they all drifted after the draw when local superstar Guaranteed drew barrier three.
He will move into two if the emergency, Auckland pacer Cyamach, is scratched and will now start at odds-on.
The most favoured of the New Zealanders, Ohoka Punter, will start from right behind Guaranteed but didn't look totally comfortable around Melton last Saturday night in his heat.
Bit Of A Legend will start from wide on the front line, while Arden Rooney has a second-line draw.
While the Derby draw was not kind to the New Zealand raiders, Mah Sish is the standout favourite for the A$400,000 Hunter Cup after drawing the front line.
While that is not crucial in the ultra-distance standing-start event, it means he should be able to step into a handy spot early and then dictate the race to backmarkers like Caribbean Blaster.
Some Australian bookies had him as short at $2.75 after the draw but the main agency, the Australian TAB, had him at $3.60 alongside Caribbean Blaster.
Highview Tommy will start off a 10m handicap in the Hunter but his stablemate Auckland Reactor is missing from the field.
He was dreadful when beaten 45m in the Ballarat Cup last Friday and trainer Mark Purdon has elected to miss this week's race.
Purdon will, however, have the favourite in the A$50,000 Australasian Trotting Champs after Dr Hook drew the front line.
He was a brave heat winner at Ballarat last Friday and steps faster than main rival Mister Zion, who is drawn alongside him, so should have a tactical advantage.
The pair dominate betting on the race.
Confusion reigned over the state of Sushi Sushi's Interdominion campaign after his Hunter Cup scratching yesterday. His connections originally said the enigmatic pacer would miss the series but after a vet check yesterday he is now rated a 50:50 chance of contesting a heat on February 16.
They want to contest the supplementary heat in Sydney, rather than flying back to Auckland to contest that heat, which is in the rules since he was trained in New Zealand when nominated.
Indications suggested yesterday he will be allowed to contest the Sydney heat because it was illness that kept him out of the Hunter Cup in what may prove to be a storm in a teacup if he doesn't recover from a chest infection quickly.
Meanwhile, dual New Zealand Cup winner Terror To Love returns to Addington on Friday night in a clash with Fly Like An Eagle and Christian Me.
The meeting also sees exceptional trotter Stig in the main trot, while Bettor Cover Lover faces a second-line draw in the $100,000 Breeders Stakes.
Two out of three?
* New Zealand-trained horses are favoured to win two of the three group ones at Melton on Saturday.
* Mah Sish continues to shorten for the Hunter Cup after drawing well.
* Dr Hook will be favourite for the Australasian Trot Champs.
* Terror To Love, Stig and Bettor Cover Lover headline a massive Addington meeting on Friday.