The scratching of NZ Cup entrant Aslan from tonight's feature race at Alexandra Park leaves The Wild Card as an anchor in the $50,000 Pick6.
The pair were supposed to have met in the $15,000 main pace but Aslan has been been retired after another tear to a suspensory ligament.
The injury was revealed when Tauwhare trainer Robert Mitchell had his leg scanned at Cambridge yesterday.
The 7 year-old McArdle entire, winner of 11 races, had finished third when making a comeback at Cambridge on September 6.
He had 23 months away from racing after a suspensory ligament problem.
The Wild Card may be aiming for a different level of cup, most likely the Franklin Cup at the end of November, but he still looks to have lengths on his rivals in race seven tonight.
He was one of the big improvers of the winter for trainers Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett, eventually claiming wins over stars like Sir Lincoln and Let's Elope.
He is almost the perfect intermediate-grade pacer, with manners, gate speed and toughness, qualities which look set to carry him to the cusp of open class. And even though he hasn't raced for six weeks he should continue that march tonight.
All six of his career wins have been at Alexandra Park, five over tonight's distance and with his early speed he should be able to head forward and wrest control of the race.
But even if driver Tony Herlihy chooses not to do that the small field ensures he can't be worse than a few lengths off the leader at the 400m mark and from there he should be too good.
While there will be plenty of punters willing to anchor The Wild Card in the Pick6, horses worth taking one-out in the other legs are hard to find tonight.
Early in the night though punters should have little trouble making a bank for themselves with a couple of handy youngsters well placed in maiden grade.
Imajollywally cost punters plenty when his concentration let him down last start but should repay them in the first race.
Silver Whisp comes into race two beautifully after beating a similar field last start in a race that was penalty-free because it was part of the invited driver's series.
Race four brings together some handy fillies and mares in Mumsie and Vincennes, the latter having a huge reputation for trainer Doug Gale last season, suggesting she is far better than maiden grade.
And race nine gives Ray the perfect chance to return to the winner's circle off a fair 20m handicap in a weakfish field.
The conditions of the race could make Moment Of Truth his danger as he is drawn to trail potential leader Silver Stream and looks well placed as well
•Nobody is in a better position to judge the merits of the big guns heading into Sunday's $25,000 Hannon Memorial at Oamaru than Anthony Butt.
And armed with that knowledge he is adamant Mah Sish can win the next step on the path to the New Zealand Cup.
Butt is not only a five-time winning driver of the Hannon but has seen plenty of the key runners in this year's edition.
Just last week he partnered Stunin Cullen behind Franco Ledger and Franco Emirate in the first open class race of the season at Addington while on Monday he drove Mah Sish when he split tomorrow's race-rivals Sleepy Tripp and Major Mark in a Motukarara workout.
And while he respects that quartet he says Mah Sish is a pacer on the up.
"It won't be an easy race to win but he will go very close," said Butt.
"He has been trialling well and is very forward, so while like all of these horses fresh-up he will improve, he has a big chance."
Yet Butt knows this is a strong renewal of the Hannon, something a bit more like a decade ago when the race was a genuine New Zealand Cup guide.
"There are four or five real Cup chances in here so it might come down to who gets the right run."
If Mah Sish is good enough to win tomorrow he could leap-frog Stunin Cullen as Butt's New Zealand Cup drive in November.
But that won't be easy judging by how Sleepy Tripp and Major Mark trialled on Monday.
They both pleased trainer Mark Purdon but he opts for Sleepy Tripp as his better chance tomorrow, with the fact he is on the unruly negated somewhat by there only being one line of runners at the start.
Grant Payne, who drove Sleepy Tripp to win a trial on Monday, has retained the drive in the Hannon.
"We only have two horses at the meeting and Mark has decided to stay at home," Payne said. Blair Orange will drive Major Mark.
There was plenty to like about the Addington performance of Franco Ledger, who downed Franco Emirate in a fast-run race. Franco Ledger is a fast beginner from a stand who will almost certainly settle the handier of the Franco pair and could be decent each way value again.
While the Hannon will dominate there will be plenty of interest in the following race where former northern trotter Murcielargo makes his stable debut for new trainer Phil Williamson.