Dexter Dunn knows how to beat Ultimate Machete and he says it isn't the way some punters expect in tonight's $200,000 New Zealand Derby.
The champion reinsman Dunn pulled off one of the tactical drives of the season to capture the Northern Derby last month on Raukapuka Ruler, who he kept ticking over in front as Ultimate Machete got into traffic trouble back in the field.
The pair clash again in tonight's classic and this time Ultimate Machete has the ace draw but Raukapuka Ruler probably has the gate speed to get across him early from barrier six.
But Dunn, who drives at Addington more than anybody else, says punters wanting to bet against Ultimate Machete shouldn't do so thinking he will get beaten for speed and locked away on the markers.
"That doesn't tend to be the case at Addington from the 2600m start," warns Dunn.
"It is quite easy to hold up from barrier one and even if you don't as long as you are going forward at the winning post the first time around you can usually get off because the field breaks open.
"So I don't see Ultimate Machete being locked away and to be honest it is not the way I drive to try and keep him there." Dunn doesn't rule out a Derby double for Raukapuka Ruler but admits it will be harder to win tonight than it was at Alexandra Park last month.
"My fella has a little chance of winning again because he is racing great but the two favourites have the advantage. Ultimate Machete will be near the lead at some stage and we know what a good stayer he is but I think Vincent is the horse to beat.
"He shouldn't have been able to make ground three wide in a 53.9 last 800m like he did last Friday and I think he will be the improver."
While Raukapuka Ruler and even Tiger Thompson could add early tactical spice it is hard to envisage any other scenario than either Ultimate Machete or Vincent being in front with a lap to go.
Ultimate Machete may be the better stayer but Vincent could have more raw speed so in a lead-trail scenario maybe Vincent is the better bet, definitely the better value.
The All Stars look set for another huge night on their home track, with Lazarus red hot to win the free-for-all even from a wide draw, especially if driven aggressively early.
And they have numbers on their side in the Welcome Stakes, with Spankem the favourite but The Devils Own maybe having a little x-factor and capable of upsetting.
The Trotting Derby looks Enghien's to lose, with his manners his biggest issue, but he has been solid in most of his Addington starts.
An interesting challenger is Heavyweight Hero, who has looked very sharp in national record times at Alexandra Park but starts on the unruly side tonight after misbehaving twice at the workouts last week.
At his best he looks more of a threat to Enghien than most of his usual southern rivals.
The night's other group one trot, the NZ Champs, shows just how weakened our elite ranks are by injury and exports, with Master Lavros a shadow of the horse he was two years ago but still probably the one to beat.
• Best bet:
Enghien (Addington, R5): Is very good when he behaves and Addington record is five from six.
• Each way: The Devils Own (Addington, R4): Not the best drawn of the favourites but might be an emerging star.
• Go again: Sertorius (Alex Park, R3): Good stayer on the improve. Could be a Derby contender.