For a group-rated Cup you wouldn't normally be tipping a horse with three and a half years between winning runs.
But the conditions of tomorrow's $75,000 Campbell Infrastructure Rotorua Cup suit the big, powerful Cambridge stayer Storming The Tower perfectly while topweight Authentic Paddy looks hampered.
The lop-sided handicap has Authentic Paddy with topweight of 60.5kg.
That weight in itself is not insurmountable, but the weight relativity, the true backbone of the handicapping system, probably is.
Storming The Tower is second topweight in the iconic feature, but he is 6.5kg away down on 54kg. In what looks bound to be a testing race, that 6.5kg is going to take some overcoming.
Before Storming The Tower won the Bay Of Plenty Cup a couple of outings back he had been winless since December 2012. Negating the significance of that unusual gap is that his recent form appears to be his career best.
In his two races since the Tauranga victory he has been beaten at Te Aroha and Ellerslie by a head then a nose by St Emilion, the country's most improved stayer.
Although his struggle looks uphill, Authentic Paddy will not concede lightly. Similar conditions to those he faces tomorrow helped beat him in the Canterbury Gold Cup on December 19, yet he showed what he could achieve when weights were leveled up by finishing just a head and a neck behind Kawi and Stolen Dance in the group one Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day. Storming The Tower apart, he looks head and shoulders above the rest in terms of class. The closing stages of the Rotorua Cup will be extremely interesting.
Under weight-for-age conditions, the second feature, the $50,000 Rotorua Stakes (1200m), looks a much more competitive race.
Last-start winner Fascination Street looks difficult to beat, given she can handle well what looks certain to be a significantly rain affected track. She has previously beaten fields of this class and looks the logical favourite. The danger to her and the interesting runner is former Sydney mare Miss Denni who is capable of handling pretty much any type of footing.
At her only New Zealand start a few weeks ago the Tony Pike-trained mare ran Passing Shot to a short head result at Hastings, the 1200m being run in a blistering 1.9.38, but she is pretty good in the wet also. She came from Chris Waller's stable and won her maiden at Warwick Farm in June last year on a slow rated track with James McDonald in the saddle.
Rory Hutchings was aboard when she won her next victory at Randwick, also on a slow surface and McDonald was reunited on a good track at Canterbury before she was sent to New Zealand, the idea being to try to secure black type form and tomorrow looks a great opportunity.
The barrier draw for Queens Rose looks ugly, but on a testing surface late in the day, being wide would definitely be a better option than the inside running rail.
Sacred Star to determine winter path in BTC Cup
Smart sprinter Sacred Star will determine his main Queensland path for the winter when he runs in tomorrow's A$500,000 BTC Cup at Doomben.
"He hasn't raced since he won the Darley Plate at Ellerslie the first week in March, so he's going to take improvement from this race," said trainer Tony Pike
"We are under no illusions because he's rising seven and there are some exceptionally talented sprinters in that field. If he's competitive he'll progress on to the Doomben 10,000 then the Stradbroke and if he finishes mid-field we'll drop him back a touch to the QTC Cup and the Glasshouse [at Caloundra]." Sacred Star, a $26 outsider with Aussie betting agency Tabcorp, will be ridden by local Jim Byrne and will jump from barrier 7.
Pike's stable struck first blood for New Zealanders when Sacred Elixir won at Caloundra on Wednesday. He was on debut in Australia, was backed as unbeatable, and so it proved.