Kiwi pacing star Our Waikiki Beach has been handed a tricky start to his Breeders Crown defence.
The exceptional three-year-old confirmed his place as favourite for the ABC series with a dominant win at Melton last Saturday but his path to the final has been made more difficult by a bad draw in his semifinal at Bendigo on Saturday night.
Our Waikiki Beach, the winner of 21 of his 22 starts, will start from the inside of the second line in his 2150m semifinal.
While he follows out one of his key rivals in Iceenothink and the field is not strong, his early fate could now be in the hands of his rivals and may force trainer-driver Mark Purdon to pull back to near last as getting locked away on the markers would seem his biggest danger.
That could mean a harder night at the office than Purdon would have liked and while only bad luck would stop him from qualifying for the final on Sunday week, the other New Zealand-trained three-year-old in the series, Franco Cristiano, looks to have an easier path.
He has drawn barrier three in the other semi and in a series that lacks depth he will be expected to win for John Dunn.
Purdon didn't have a lot of luck with barrier draws for his other series favourites, with both Pacing Major (two-year-old boys) and Partyon (juvenile fillies) drawing the second line.
Pacing Major won his Australian debut last Friday against older horses but faces a huge task on Saturday as his semi contains some serious opponents in Astride, The Little General and Bettor Be Gold.
Partyon should remain unbeaten in her semi as she has drawn a weak field and has already shown the ability to work in her races.
The New Zealand-trained winners in the draws apart from Franco Cristiano were My MacKenzie, barrier one in a weakish semi, and Luisanabelle Midfrew, who gets barrier two in the other three-year-old fillies semi.
Meanwhile, several of New Zealand's contenders for the trotting divisions of the Breeders Crown attempt to qualify at Maryborough today.
High Gait, Temporale and Our Regal Love will all be well favoured in their heats on the all-trotting programme.
Last season's New Zealand Free-For-All winner Tiger Tara started his road to the New Zealand Cup with a steady second at the Ashburton trials yesterday, not asked for anything like his best.
Nominations for the Cup closed on Monday, with none of the expected big names missing and the Australian interest headed by Philadelphia Man, who is rated a serious chance of being at Addington for the great race.