Smolda could win or lose today's Kaikoura Cup in the first 400m.

The hot favourite has drawn the ace in the final lead-up to next week's New Zealand Trotting Cup, a draw which may not be as advantageous as it looks at first glance.

While he has begun safely this campaign, Smolda is rarely fast away in standing starts and has several very quick beginners in Mossdale Conner (2), Tiger Tara (6) and Franco Nelson (8) outside him.

One, or perhaps all of them, are likely to get across Smolda at the start.

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So the question will be whether driver Tim Williams can get Smolda away from the marker pegs during the early scramble because for all his talent Smolda is not a sit-sprinter and would be best suited by pressing forward early to try for the lead.

If he reaches the front those taking the TAB's $1.90 will be on good terms with themselves, if he becomes locked away back on the inside today's race could become three minutes of frustration.

Victory today could see Smolda close into second favouritism for next week's Cup, giving the All Stars stable an unprecedented first three favourites in the race.

That would even extend to four if Titan Banner performs well today as he looks set to improve on his fresh-up third in the Methven Cup.

Franco Nelson could be the upset shot as Kaikoura would seem well suited to his step-and-run tactics but wide barriers can he chaotic at Kaikoura, with the alway huge crowd almost in touching range of the outside horses.

The open class trot looks the most even feature of the season so far, with again manners crucial, especially for Harriet Of Mot, drawing the ace and hard to catch if she steps and runs.

The unders in the race are for Amaretto Sun, who has been brilliant this season but has drawn one on the second line, which hardly looks ideal for him.