By his reckoning Cambridge trainer Tony Pike has had three previous runners in the Derby, two of which have placed.
Until Provocative went slightly amiss and was withdrawn on Wednesday, Pike had three of the top fancies in tomorrow's $750,000 BMW NZ Derby at Ellerslie.
Rangipo, $5.50 yesterday, will go around as favourite and Raghu will be around $10 as a back-up to Rangipo.
"We had Historian who finished second to Jimmy Choux and Carrick who was third to Silent Achiever." Both runners were at $20 or better, but this time there is more pressure on Pike with the favourite and the fourth favourite engaged.
Like heading into a major 3200m race, what's required for a Derby is a horse that can take the hard work and stay in form. Rangipo is such a horse. He worked hard when third to Dukedom on an unsuitable rain-affected track at Trentham then even harder to beat Raghu in the Waikato Guineas at Te Rapa and to beat Brighton in the Avondale Guineas.
According to Pike, Rangipo has thrived since those runs. "He's done remarkably well to come through what he's done and his work this week has been as good as any time previously. He doesn't lie down this horse - he's quite remarkable."
That sounds like a Derby horse to us.
Pike said the similarly consistent Raghu has also progressed well.
"He's drawn well and will make the most of that, we were very keen for him to draw a good barrier.
"Rangipo has drawn out a bit awkwardly, but he has good gate speed to get up handy early." The impressive part of Rangipo and Raghu is they can get handy, relax in running and kick hard late, which makes them fierce competitors.
The interesting runner is Get That Jive who has closely chased Rangipo home at Te Rapa and Ellerslie in his last two starts. In both he has been required to go wide around the home bend when Rangipo has been closer in and this time Get That Jive has drawn barrier No 1.
Get That Jive has won in heavy footing and has been placed on the dead. He has been heavily backed and will go around as the public's second choice.
Roger James expects a big run from The Hassler, who is in the mould of several of the stable's previous Derby winners, strong and a real staying type.
"The 2400m will definitely suit him," says James of the Shocking gelding who won over 2100m at Te Rapa two starts back. The Hassler covered a lot of extra ground on the home bend when fifth in the Avondale Guineas and was just 2.2 lengths off winner Rangipo. He has drawn awkwardly at No 14 and his placing will require luck, but if he gets it look for him at the 150m.
Luck will also determine the final placing of the filly Valley Girl, who has drawn the outside gate of the 18 runners. She became the first of her age and sex to win the group one Herbie Dyke, which puts her in a different league to most in this race.
Co-trainer Donna Logan has always believed this is the perfect 2400m Oaks-Derby horse and has preferred this Derby to the Oaks at Trentham because Trentham is later and a big trip from Ruakaka and Logan is keen to take Valley Girl to Sydney for the Oaks there.
Pike rates Valley Girl the danger to his two runners. "Yes, she will need luck, but she's very good as she showed at Te Rapa."
The better the track conditions, the better the chance of What's The Story. Racing manager Craig Baker has all week predicted a track which will almost certainly be declared as a Dead 5 early on race morning.
What's The Story could not have been more impressive sprinting from well back in the field after being checked 700m out at Ellerslie last start. That day he was stepping from 1400m to 2100m, so you could expect some further improvement. "The firmer the track, the better he will sprint," says trainer Stephen McKee.
Capella is another strong chance. She did not get the best run when a close third to Mime in the Sir Tristram Fillies Classic last start.
Tony Pike has moved swiftly after regular rider Michael McNab's suspension appeal failed yesterday, and engaged Melbourne-based Michael Walker to partner the in-form Raghu.
Walker won the Derby in 2010 aboard Military Move and again two years ago on Puccini.
• Easier this time: Sabotage, R2, Ellerslie. Close behind talented Lauber
• Improver: Red Striker, R7 Ellerslie. Hadn't raced for two months when second last weekend. Should be fitter this time.
• Go again: Marky Mark, R1 Ellerslie. Not entirely happy on the dead track last time and did not get the best of runs. Hard to beat this time, even against older horses.