Fabulous winter racing is on the cards at Ruakaka today.
It's class v class as connections take their talented about-to-be-stars to a track to avoid the mud elsewhere.
No avoidance, match-ups everywhere. Like hugely talented Lewis Caroll against stablemates Shillelagh, Windborne and Astrid.
And the unbeaten Hong Kong-owned Bao Shan Magic up against the highly thought of Koenigsegg One.
Reputations could be tarnished, some enhanced.
It pays to know who you're up against. It reminds you of the notorious but fabulously hilarious W.C. Fields who one evening invited a clergyman to join a card school in the lounge of a New York hotel.
"Is this a game of chance?" inquired the clergyman.
Replied Fields: "Not when I'm dealing it ain't."
Thankfully, today's players have a more even field to lay down the contest than that of the long ago night in New York.
Lewis Caroll has speed aplenty. He can take up any forward position, sprint off his cruising speed and fight strongly in the closing stages. He won his first two races in that manner and was run down late in his only other subsequent outing. He should be difficult to run down at Ruakaka.
The Autridge/Richards stable has a massive four-way involvement. The stable is supporting Matt Cameron in his premiership bid and he has the ride on Shillelagh, who was found to have symptoms of colic after being beaten as a hit favourite at Taranaki last start. She is extremely talented and will put up a good effort for compensation here. Windborne tried hard against Eprouvez last start and before that was fourth to stablemate Xtravagant in the Breeders Stakes. Great race.
Richie McHorse was backed as unbeatable at Ellerslie last start and Boa Shan Magic put him away comfortably. Even if the winter track was against the favourite it was still a sparkling effort by Bao Shan Magic, who is now two from two.
His clash with Koenigsegg One will be one of the real highlights this afternoon.
The first two at Ruakaka are a bit of a gamble. Thunder Down Under (No8, R3) makes more sense. In winning over 1600m at Ellerslie last start, he proved he wasn't just a get-back, run-on stayer. He took up the running not long after the start and stayed on nicely. He jumps to open class here after just two raceday victories, but he has plenty of class and only 54kg on his back. Biologist (No2) could be the improver.
Ruakaka-trained Playboy Prince (No3, R4) deserves this one after a brave second under 60kg at Ellerslie last start. He fought strongly all the way up the home straight that day and with 57kg here he appeals.
Finns Halo (No1, R5) has produced two excellent seconds since starting this campaign and is another for whom a win would be well deserved.
Pieomie (No6) ran on well for fourth late over 1400m last start at Avondale and should be suited by the step up to 1600m.
Talented mare Snowdrop carried just 51.5kg when she ran 1200m at Ellerslie in 1.8.88. In Flight (No9, R8) had the job of chasing her with 59kg - an impossibility and he gets his chance in his first start since on his home track today. There is plenty of speed in the race and In Flight can also put himself on the speed, so should get a reasonable run. The value runners are two improvers in Caellum (No4) and Guevara (No3).
The last race has been opened up with the scratchings of Mr Luigi and Hollywood Lass. It's a bit of a raffle, but the improver could be City Boy (No5) who should be sharper for his first-up Ellerslie race last start.