Pure Power isn't the best horse in the feature race at Addington tonight but he might be the most motivated.
The mammoth Pukekohe pacer meets several of the favourites for the $600,000 New Zealand Cup in tonight's final lead-up to the great race at Addington on November 13.
But whereas the likes of Auckland Reactor, Gold Ace, Pembrook Benny and Mah Sish are in the Cup field, Pure Power sits as the first emergency.
While he could still sneak into the final 15, a win tonight would guarantee his spot and trainer Dave McGowan says he wants that invite.
"I want to be in the Cup because I think he is better than half the horses who are going to be there," says McGowan. "I think he is tougher and the 3200m will suit him so we are aware that we are racing for our chance at the Cup this week."
Pure Power has won his last two races in intermediate grade but his lack of ringcraft has haunted him in the genuine open-class races.
He is poorly handicapped in tonight's 2600m standing start, being off 25m alongside the millionaires, but McGowan wants driver Blair Orange to make the glamour boys work.
"And we have the horse to do that because he can begin fast from a standing start and I am sure he will settle in front of most of the big names. He is very well and ready so he will get his chance."
Mah Sish and Gold Ace loom as the pair to beat tonight, with Mah Sish well suited by the handicaps.
He has been placed in all three open-class starts this season and gets a vital 15m head start from most of the favourites tonight.
Gold Ace is over a hoof injury suffered last week and is beginning well so could have a tactical edge over Auckland Reactor, who is also back from a hoof problem.
The enigmatic glamour pacer could leapfrog into second Cup favouritism with a win tonight but he now hasn't won a race in New Zealand for a year and punters would want at least $5 for him tonight.
Pembrook Benny is a pro and always an each-way chance, while Auckland Cup winner Sir Lincoln is a surprise acceptor after being pulled out of the New Zealand Cup.
He is using tonight's race to get fit for the big sprints over Cup week but his stablemate Mexicano should win race nine tonight.
Meanwhile, Barry Purdon looks set for a huge night at Alexandra Park, with four big winning chances.
Supremacy (R10, No 4), Raydon (R9, No 8), Topshelf Attitude (R7, No 2) and Silver Whisp (R4, No 4) all look great hopes for the in-form trainer.By Michael Guerin Email Michael