Alex Park pointers
• Best Bet: Heavyweight Hero (R10, No.9): Bolted in last week and extra distance helps with increased handicap.
• Repeat: Better B Amazed (R9, No.8): The way she beat these last Friday impossible to see a different result.
• Mobile help: Sertorius (R1, No.10): Good young trotter who trialled well behind mobile last Saturday.
Their careers are the classic tale of two halves and now punters have to decide who wins the next chapter of More The Better versus Ultimate Machete.
The pair dominate the market for tonight's $250,000 Woodlands Derby at Alexandra Park, even poor barrier draws not enough to suggest their less glamorous rivals can down them.
But which one of the All Stars pair grabs the Derby could come down to timing, as it has most of their careers.
They have met eight times for four wins apiece with a very clear demarcation line - up till November it was 4-0 to More The Better, the quicker and more natural youngster of the pair.
Then the balance of power transferred to the bigger, stronger Ultimate Machete as he brutalised his stablemate in the Sires Stakes Final at Addington and three times at the Alexandra Park December carnival.
Back then it was hard to make a case More The Better would ever win a fair fight over his stablemate again but three-year-old seasons tend to be full of ups and downs as the protagonists strengthen, weaken, grow and the rigours of racing and travelling take their toll.
Ultimate Machete was good but not startling by his standards when second in the NSW Derby last start whereas More The Better dazzled with a second against the elite older horses in the Founders last Friday.
Maybe he now holds the upper hand tonight and gets his chance to take a 5-4 lead in their personal battle?
"It is hard to choose between them because they both have tricky draws but it was hard not to be impressed by what More The Better did last week," says stable foreman Tim Williams.
"He is really well but then again Ultimate Machete was also good in the NSW Derby. So it might come down to luck."
Ultimate Machete has barrier eight but if and when driver Natalie Rasmussen gets serious it is hard to imagine any of her rivals parking her so he might still be in front with a lap to go.
That makes him the horse to beat, unless More The Better gets there first and is the one sitting on his back.
Punters could do worse than simply back both and be happy with a small profit because on all eight occasions they have raced, one or the other has won.
In a deep field, Jacks Legend appeals as the best place value as he has chased the big two home twice in feature races this season.
The City Of Auckland Free-For-All rivals the Derby for race of the night with the well drawn trio of Smolda (2), Waikiki Beach (barrier 3) and The Orange Agent (1) set to control the race. Smolda deserves top billing after a magnificent summer all over Australasia and he did win this race last season.
With new found gate speed and respect he could well end up in front.
The Orange Agent was a fine comeback third last Friday and has the speed to threaten while Waikiki Beach worked well this week and his last-start Miracle Mile fourth indicates he can win his Alex Park debut.
Alta Maestro holds most of the aces in the Young Guns Final so what beats him probably wins but the fillies final is very even, with favourites Bettor Joy and New York Rain facing second line draws.
Add in a well-balanced Greenlane Cup and the unpredictable Heaven Rocks in the support programme and the meeting is one of Alexandra Park's best of the season.