The open class pacing season is about to get serious.
And it means for the first time this term punters could have a real race to get their teeth into at Addington on Friday week.
The New Brighton Cup could see all three Purdon power pacers Have Faith In Me, Lazarus and Smolda up against Locharburn, Tiger Tara, Franco Nelson and Christen Me, so basically the big names of this season's New Zealand Cup.
And it was the forgotten name of that group, Christen Me, who sprung the surprise at the Ashburton workouts yesterday, coming from last to beat Have Faith In Me in the elite workout.
Christen Me has raced sparingly over the last year and his defeats have been regular and sometimes big enough to suggest he has been well and truly usurped at the head of the pacing pack.
But he pleasantly surprised trainer Cran Dalgety with his 55.2sec last 800m to finish over the top of Have Faith In Me, Smolda and Lazarus in yesterday's 2400m workout in a serious 3:2.6.
"At least that shows we are still competitive with the top ones," said Dalgety.
"It was only a workout but he found the line at least as good as Mark and Natalie's horses and they looked ready. And that is a lot better than coming here and running fourth to them.
"So it boosts my confidence he can run with these horses, even if he is no longer the dominant force."
The workout was Christen Me's first in public since a disappointing Queensland winter campaign but Dalgety says a more regular work diet has kept the veteran trim and healthy.
"He is ready to race next week now and we are putting all out eggs in the New Zealand Cup basket, we didn't even nominate for the Inter Dominion."
So can Christen Me still win a New Zealand Cup?
"I think so, it won't be easy but we aren't out of it," Dalgety offers.
Co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen was happy with their trio of Have Faith In Me, Smolda and Lazarus, with Have Faith In Me making the most of a walk up start to at least get away safely with his rivals.
"All three of them went well and it was a clear step up on their first workout last week," said Rasmussen.
"So they are ready for a race and all three of them could go to Addington on Friday week at this stage," she said.
"If horses like Locharburn and Tiger Tara are there that should ensure the speed is on and that would give us maybe the chance to drive them in the field for once."
Have Faith In Me remained the $3.20 TAB favourite for the Cup, with Lazarus at $3.40 but Christen Me moved into $9 after his showing.