An Auckland Cup that has come "two weeks too early" will give trainer Steven Reid a chance to show a different side of Gold Ace.
But the Pukekohe trainer isn't expecting the new string to the stallion's bow to be a winning one.
Reid has both Gold Ace and Easy On The Eye in Friday night's $250,000 feature at Alexandra Park and would gladly reverse their draws and form if he could.
Gold Ace goes into the race struggling for peak fitness after a summer dogged by recurring quarter cracks and now faces a second-line draw, which negates his blazing gate speed.
Easy On The Eye has no such issues, having won the final lead-up race last Friday and drawing perfectly at barrier two.
The only problem is, Easy On The Eye even at his peak probably isn't good enough to win at Auckland Cup, whereas Gold Ace is.
Reid decided to start Gold Ace in Friday's thriller after he worked soundly three times this week, suggesting the quarter crack is under control for now.
But the recent work he has missed has left him around 90 per cent fitness wise.
"The race is going to come about 10 days or two weeks too early for us I think," admits Reid.
"But he will still take improvement from his final workout [today] and then we will hope for the best."
And a genius Tony Herlihy drive, as Gold Ace gets a rare opportunity, with his draw and lowered expectations, to be driven with a sit.
Almost all his major wins have been when driven on the speed and Reid is looking forward to seeing what sort of hunter the 5-year-old is.
"It will be interesting because we know he is very good in front and because of his gate speed he often ends up there.
"But this week Tony will be able to settle and then move when he wants.
"To be honest though, after the work he has missed I think he will struggle to win."
Especially as this Auckland Cup is far stronger than many expected.
Coming so close to the Interdominion final in Sydney on Sunday it could easily have been little more than a glamour free-for-all.
But with I'm Themightyquinn making a shock trip to Auckland and Terror To Love returning and drawn barrier one, the race is almost as strong as the Inter final.
Bookies on either side of the Tasman have been confused by the draws, with Aussie bookies opening Terror To Love favourite while the New Zealand TAB opted for I'm Themightyquinn as the $2.40 elect.
That has seen Gold Ace out to $15, probably a fair price considering the depth of the field and Reid's lack of confidence.
Champion filly and last week's Oaks winner Adore Me has opened the $2.80 favourite for Friday's $250,000 Woodlands Derby, even from her second-line draw.
That means Ohoka Punter has bounced back out to $3.20 even after a dazzling heat win last Friday, while fellow heat winner Franco Nelson is a $4.50 shot, with Border Control at $8.50.By Michael Guerin Email Michael