Rowing heroes Eric Murray and Hamish Bond will experience a rare sporting emotion today -- hope.
Because when Aotearower, the racehorse they part-own, steps on to the track for race four on Auckland Cup day at Ellerslie, the pair know what happens next is out off their hands.
"It is a different thing for us because in our sport, Hamish and I have tried to take hope out of the equation," says Murray, the Olympic Gold Medalist and multiple world champ.
"We try and work and train hard enough that we don't have to hope for results, whereas when you own a horse it is not up to you.
"Anything can happen, there is luck involved and a whole lot of other factors that need to come together. The stars need to align to win and that is what makes it fun.
"It is also why we get a bit nervous before a race."? Bond and Murray share in the ownership of Aoteorower with Mahe Drysdale, Nathan Cohen, Joseph Sullivan and racing royalty Sir Patrick and Lady Justine Hogan, along with the Social Racing Syndicate put together to make racing more accessible to new owners.
The mare has won two of her 14 starts but has also placed six times and was a last-start winner at Matamata.
"It is great fun and a nice distraction away from the lake," says Murray. "I have had a bit to do with horses, my wife loves them and has ridden all her life. They really are magnificent athletes when you see them up close."
Today's Ellerslie meeting caps Auckland Cup week, with the $500,000 Cup moved from its previous Wednesday date which Auckland Racing Club boss Cameron George says "gives the race back to Aucklanders."? The carnival used to entail three days at Ellerslie but has been compressed to two.
"The Cup being on a Wednesday got great corporate support but made it hard for a lot of Aucklanders to get to the races because of work," said George. "But now it is on a Saturday more people can make it and with a massive race card and the Prix De Fashion on Saturday it is going to be a very special occasion.
"The corporate support has still been very strong but there are heaps of options for the public to come along."
The meeting starts at 12.27pm with the Cup, over the traditional 3200m, run at 5.22pm.