Railway winner Start Wondering has to beat 17 rivals, including group-winning Australian sprinter Odyssey Moon to win tomorrow's $250,000 Berkett Telegraph at Trentham.
Oh, and he also has to beat the handicapper.
Start Wondering is top class, but the handicapping coming out of Ellerslie's Railway will make tomorrow's task extremely difficult.
The Rayner-trained sprinter was given seven rating points for winning the Railway and second-placed Perfect Fit one point. Star Wondering's winning stake was $120,000 and Perfect Fit's $39,000.
Handicapping is supposedly a mathematical exercise. Doesn't seven times $39,000 equal $273,000?
But the seven to one ratio is only a paper exercise. The reality of the handicapping from the Railway to tomorrow is that Perfect Fit carries the same 56kg and Start Wondering has 2kg more at 58kg.
"I thought the handicapping has been a bit tough on the horse," says co-trainer Evan Rayner, who along with daughter and training partner JJ received the biggest thrill of their career at Ellerslie.
"I'm very happy with the horse," said Rayner. "His work since Ellerslie has been very good."
Trentham received 7mm of rain on Wednesday night, but the track reading yesterday morning remained at a Dead (4). More showers are forecast through to tomorrow morning.
"He doesn't like a very wet track but at this time of year it won't get to that. Like a lot of horses he will appreciate some easing of the ground. The Trentham chute [from the 1200m barrier to the course proper] was very hard last week; a couple of my runners jarred up a bit. The rain will help with that a bit."
Melbourne-trained Odyssey Moon is not in the top tier of Australian sprinters, but is near the top ranking of the second tier. He was good enough to win the group three Standish at Flemington on New Year's Day under 58kg.
"We had originally looked at coming to Ellerslie for the Railway, then the Trentham race was identified and we stayed here to tackle the Standish," said trainer Robert Smerdon.
The No 19 barrier draw - No 16 without the emergencies - is not attractive, but for a horse that enjoys the wide spaces of Flemington's "straight six" (the Standish) it is preferable to drawing No 1, which could result in being jammed back along the inside rail.
Odyssey Moon has an excellent record in the wet and won't mind how much rain arrives at Trentham.
He will be ridden by his Standish jockey, Melbourne-based Noel Callow, who doesn't enjoy the profile of the likes of Damien Oliver and Craig Williams, but he is as good and is highly sought after. The 41-year-old's public profile reflects the fact he has spent a good deal of his senior career riding in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Macau and Mauritius.
"Noel rode the horse for the first time in the Standish and was very keen to come over a ride him at Trentham," said Smerdon.
Perfect Fit has the No 1 barrier. She is reasonably quick to leave the gates and on this occasion will need to. She fights very hard in her races and provided she gets a clear run close to the inside she should be in the fight. She was the TAB's equal $4 favourite with Start Wondering yesterday.
Longchamp hasn't raced since August. He has a remarkable fresh-up record of three wins from four career starts and is the type to be finishing off strongly into the money in what is certain to be a hard-run race.
The $250,000 Wallaceville Estate Wellington Cup may not be the best 3200m Cup we have seen at Trentham, but there is plenty of form in the contest and 3200m has a special public appeal.
Jacksstar has the right to solid support having won the 3200m at Trentham three starts back on December 3. His form since represents a win and a top-class second and being a rock-hard stayer he will see this out better than most of the opposition.
Fanatic is the interesting runner. She wasn't exactly disappointing when eighth in the City Of Auckland Cup, but it was a bit less than some expected of her. She was the promoted winner of the Oaks here last autumn after being beaten a nose and perhaps Trentham will bring the best out of her again.
• Unlucky: Abbey Road (R1, Trentham). Got no run in the home straight at Wellington last week. Could not be as unlucky again.
• Freshened: Pinzalot (R2, Tauranga, today). Won well when resuming then ran into trouble at Riccarton. Ready to go again.
• Deserved win: Packing Tycoon (R4, Tauranga). Two seconds from as many start this campaign, beaten by Marky Mark and Stolen Dance.