Heaven Rocks' bumpy road to the top is about to get a lot steeper.
Last season's Harness Jewels winner has been expensive when galloping and jaw-dropping when pacing this season, suggesting he has the motor of a modern Yulestar.
His two recent Alexandra Park wins indicate he can match it with the best and on Friday we will find out as he meets champion stablemate Lazarus for the first time.
Not that it looms as a fair fight. Lazarus has drawn barrier one in the $40,000 Superstars while Heaven Rocks starts on the unruly in the 1950m mobile. The race is a somewhat surprise addition to Lazarus's autumn calendar and increases the likelihood he will also start in the Easter Cup on his way to the Taylor Mile and Messenger.
How close Heaven Rocks can get to him in any of those races he contests will be the best indication yet of whether he really is a Cup winner in waiting.
The clash of the stablemates along with Chase The Dream and yet another Jewels winner in Field Marshal is one of the highlights of a stunning Addington programme.
Piccadilly Princess (barrier two) has the best of the draws over northern star The Orange Agent (seven) in the $100,000 Breeders Stakes, with Auckland Cup winner Dream About Me missing as she continues to battle a hoof problem. That group one also sees the belated return of Golden Goddess, another who has struggled with injury this term.
On a night of big-name clashes the Flying Stakes sees NSW Derby winner Vincent against Ultimate Machete and Northern Derby winner Raukapuka Ruler in the final lead-up to next week's NZ Derby.
Add in the NZ Trotting Oaks and the return of Franco Nelson from a luckless Inter Dominion campaign and Friday's meeting is the strongest at Addington since New Zealand Cup week.
Meanwhile, Australian interest in this year's Jewels at Ashburton looks the highest yet, with the first invitation issued last night to Victorian mare Rockstar Angel.
The four-year-old will contest her Diamond division for David Aiken, a rare New Zealand visit for the man who trained Lennytheshark to down the Kiwis in the Miracle Mile last month.
"We know it won't be easy to beat the Kiwis on their home patch," said Aiken.
No Australian-trained horse has won a Harness Jewels race. But early indications are up to five or six Australian-trained horses could make the trip to Ashburton for this year's June 3 meeting.