Auckland Reactor's big shot at Australian redemption became a lot easier in Melbourne yesterday.
The enigmatic star is fighting for his credibility and future commercial stallion career in Australia this month, first in Saturday night's Hunter Cup and then in the Perth Interdominions which begin two weeks later.
His Hunter Cup assignment received a huge boost when Aussie hero Smoken Up pulled out of the event yesterday.
The $3 million earner was handed a 30m handicap and trainer Lance Justice said that was simply too much, even over the 3280m.
So with Smoken Up gone and Auckland Reactor only off a 10m handicap in one of the weakest Hunter Cups in the past 20 years, he has been opened the $2.40 favourite.
Trainer-driver Mark Purdon was surprised that stablemate Highview Tommy, upset winner of last Saturday's Ballarat Cup, received the same 10m handicap considering he has never won anything like Auckland Reactor.
Yet Highview Tommy is still rated the second favourite early, with the biggest drifter in the market being Pukekohe pacer The Gold Ace, who is out to $19 in Australia after his Ballarat failure on Saturday.
The Kiwi domination of the market is just as strong in Saturday night's A250,000 Interdominion Trotting Final, where series favourite I Can Doosit has drawn barrier three for the defence of his title.
He does have I Didn't Do It, with whom he dead heated in his heat last Saturday, drawn inside him at two and looking the greatest thorn in his side.
The Fiery Ginga (five), Stylish Monarch (6), Vulcan (8), Springbank Richard (9) and Sovereignty (13) add to the incredible depth of the New Zealand challenge for the race. However, the draws were not so kind to South Auckland pacer Ideal Scott in the A$200,000 Alabar Victoria Derby.
He will start from one on the second line, which trainer Brian Hughes summed up as "about the worse draw he could get".
That saw him drift to second favouritism behind Victorian star Restrepo, who starts alongside him at two on the second line.
Meanwhile, Carabella has the upper hand early in the latest clash of the glamour mares at Addington on Saturday.
She has drawn the front line in the $100,000 Breeders Stakes, with arch rival Bettor Cover Lover drawn on the second line.