There are plenty of jumps racing enthusiasts who look forward to the Great Northern Steeples more than any other race of the year - then there is Ann Browne.
Because nobody cherishes the iconic Ellerslie slugfest like the Cambridge trainer, especially when it is raining.
Browne delighted in hearing the rain had returned to Auckland last night, because as the Ellerslie track becomes looser her two Great Northern chances Ima Heroine and Tom's Myth get tighter in the market.
You get the feeling the training legend Browne, wife of the late king of New Zealand jumps racing Ken, would love the Great Northern meeting on Saturday even if she didn't have the two favourites in the feature.
"I first went to this meeting with my parents when I was 17 years old," Browne told the Herald.
"And I have only missed it once since, when Ken and I were in the United States.
"So I've been to 55 of the last 56 and it is always a special day."
It looks likely to be more special this year though as defending champion Ima Heroine and Pakuranga Hunt Cup winner Tom's Myth will thrive on the heavy track.
Browne won't be easily drawn on which of the pair she favours and for good reason.
"To be honest, I don't really care which one wins as long as one of them does so I don't have to think about it much.
"The mare has been there and done it before so she has to be a good chance, whereas Tom's Myth is a better horse now than when he finished fifth last year."
But probe a little harder and Browne admits a really deep track could aid Tom's Myth.
"He is the bigger, stronger horse and he gets weight off the mare, so maybe the heavier the better for him."
While Browne's pair headline New Zealand's longest race, Saturday's meeting brings together an eclectic mix of thoroughbred talent.
A large, even field contests the $100,000 Meadow Fres Northern Hurdles, while winter hero Indikator will carry 59.5kg in the open staying race.
Also on show will be Auckland Cup winner Shez Sinsational in the $40,000 JRA Trophy against another Aussie-bound mare Full Of Spirit. At Wanganui, group one winner Warhorse headlines the field for the $50,000 Wanganui Guineas.
New Zealand galloper It's A Dundeel kept his unbeaten record intact in Sydney yesterday but not in a style that would have made his army of supporters comfortable.
The Murray Baker-Andrew Forsman-trained colt landed some huge bets, being backed in from $4 to $1.90 in Australia before beating his older rivals. But he was made to work, once again hitting a flat spot on the home turn at Canterbury, before looking every inch a Derby contender by lengthening out in the straight to grab victory in the last stride.
It was his third win in as many starts and saw him promoted to second favourite at $8 for the Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick next month.
That was the race stablemate Lion Tamer failed in two years ago before going on to win the VRC Derby at Flemington, a path It's A Dundeel, who races as Dundeel in New Zealand, is set to follow.
Baker's son Bjorn is looking after the colt in Sydney and likes what he sees.
"It is early days yet but he has won three from three, all with the odds stacked against him," he said.
"I think he is a real Derby horse and we will see the best of him when he gets on the bigger tracks, like Randwick and Flemington."By Michael Guerin Email Michael