Maurice McKendry is confident Shandale can be an overtime star at Alexandra Park tonight.
The three-year-old and one of his key rivals all season long in Motown are backing up from luckless but brave efforts in the Jewels last Saturday, against a bunch of rivals tonight doing something similar.
As the industry lets out a collective sigh after the final group one meeting of the season, several high class age group performers are now on overtime, seeking a bonus win or two before heading for their winter spells.
And while three-year-olds beating near open class older opponents are rare earlier in the season, they can do so in winter.
That, and their barrier draws, suggest Shandale (1) and Motown (2) are the pair to beat in the 1700m sprint on a track where they both excel. Motown was a huge third behind Heaven Rocks in the Jewels while Shandale never really got clear until too late when fifth.
"He has had a season like that and we just had too many horses around us to go anywhere," said trainer-driver McKendry.
"I was thrilled with how he felt and he has weathered the long season well. He is working as well as ever and I think he can beat the older horses.
"If he could trail a horse like Motown they would both be hard to beat but there could be some gate speed from Risk out wide. But we have definitely got a chance."
Shandale has five wins and four placings from 12 starts at Alexandra Park, some in top three-year-old company, while Motown's 14 starts have yielded six wins and four placings.
"They both went a mile in around 1:53 last week so probably won't need to go much quicker again."
Motown has looked stronger this campaign and if he can be first to the marker pegs then he would probably stay in front, making the task so much harder for the four-year-olds who contested the Jewels in Risk and Bettor Spirits.
But the start will be crucial because if one of the older horses launches from outside and crosses to the front, the whole race pattern could change.
McKendry partners another three-year-old with talent but not Shandale's manners yet in Lemond in race seven, a 2200m mobile trot which again brings together Jewels runners in Reine Des Gitans, Quevert and Blazing Under Fire, who was a huge seventh after an early gallop in the three-year-old trot.
Lemond was talented enough to push Marcoola in the Sires' Stakes Trot two months ago and if he trots throughout will take huge beating.
"He has got a bit of motor and will end up being a good horse but he is still learning," says McKendry.
"But he can definitely win."
McKendry says his own stable rep Shanocon will improve in race eight but is still very much on the way up, while he rates Aymar (race two) a big chance.
One of the best races of the night is the open class trot, where Sunny Ruby backs up from a disappointing performance behind Monbet in the four-year-old trot.
She faces a very tricky draw over the 1700m and is probably best when driven sit-sprint, a difficult way to win in an Alexandra Park sprint, especially with in-form rivals like Foray, Any Old Way and track specialist Mum's Pride drawn inside her.
CALM AFTER STORM
Each way: Jo's Dream (R6, No.8): Coming out of hard run Jewels mare's race and has gate speed to make her own luck.
Place value: Atomic Betty (R2, No.2): Got too far back but gets a better draw tonight and place odds could be nice.
Manners? Lemond (R7, No.4): Motor is big enough to win if brain can keep up.