Australia-based trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young will attempt to win tomorrow's A$1.5 million Victoria Derby with three strongly-bred New Zealand 3-year-olds and Cambridge's Murray Baker will try to take it with an Australian bred.
Both have won the race, Baker with Lion Tamer in 2010 and Busuttin and Young with Sangster a year later. Both were ridden by Hugh Bowman.
Busuttin and Young have two strong chances in Main Stage and Sully, to be ridden respectively by Michael Walker and Bowman.
Their third runner, outsider Johnny Vinko, will have Stephen Baster in the saddle and the training partners also have the race's only emergency, Beachwood.
For a young trainer Busuttin is circumspect. "Proud," is all he'd say about the stable having potentially four runners in one of Australia's greatest classics after moving its operation from Cambridge to Melbourne barely a year ago.
If they win tomorrow, neither will resort to self praise, but appearing will be smiles that could shine through a fog.
Neither will you get handstands from Baker or his training partner Andrew Forsman. The serious players have serious attitudes.
There's pride though. Forsman can be proud of having picked up their Derby runner Weather With You for A$27,000 at the Magic Millions June yearling sale for owner Lindsay De Souza, who syndicated three shares off to friends.
This is not a vintage Victoria Derby with a colt on its way to legendary status - more a field of emerging stayers, many of whom are likely to develop into headliners in the near future.
Yesterday's market had the Sydney colt Ace High, trained by former South African David Payne, a $5.50 favourite ahead of Main Stage on $6.50, Weather With You and Tangled at $7, Sully at $8.50 and Astoria sixth favourite at $9.
The fact these are quickly emerging types is emphasised by Weather With You two weeks ago going into the Geelong Classic as a maiden and producing a win that quickly promoted him to then second favouritism, now easing to third favourite.
Baker told the Herald from Melbourne yesterday he is delighted with the 3-year-old's progress. "There have been a few showers this morning in Melbourne, but nothing really significant. A few more would be ideal for our horse, but Flemington is a fantastic draining track."
Weather With You was extremely strong late in the Geelong victory, scored on a slow surface.
Rider Mark Zara gave away the ideal one-one sit down the back straight to sit outside the leader and chanced his arm by sending the New Zealander to the lead early in the home straight.
Being over 2200m, both moves were suicidal if Weather With You could not stay strongly, but he did.
The 2500m of the Victoria Derby on a tough track like Flemington is as brutal on early 3-year-olds as Tuesday's 3200m Melbourne Cup is for the older horses. Only true stayers have any chance in either race. Weather With You is clearly in that group.
"He'll be a real hope," says Baker. "He's drawn nicely (No 2) and should get a nice run just off the speed. It's an even field and getting the right run will be important to the result."
The Busuttin/Young team got a shock when Main Stage drew barrier No 14 and Sully No 15. "Okay, that's going to make it difficult, but with the riders we've got (Walker and Bowman) we have jockeys who know all about strategics."
There is a short run to the bend out of the home straight from the Flemington 2500m start and Bowman and Walker will have little choice but to drop back in the field early.
That may not be a disaster though because every year half the field are starting to feel the stamina pinch by the 1000m and the field thins out as they drop away. This allows a back runner to improve around without having to cover enormous amounts of extra ground.
Main Stage disappointed his connections when only third behind Cliff's Edge in the 2000m Ladbrokes Classic at Caulfield last start. "I thought he should have gone close," says Busuttin, "but on reflection it was a bit of a sprint home. The disappointment to me was that he wasn't able to work away from the fourth and fifth horses in the closing stages."
A much better guide is how strong Main Stage was through the line when he won the 1800m UCI Stakes at Flemington two starts back. He powered home like a horse that would eat 2500m on the same track.
"Each of our horses worked well on Tuesday morning," said Busuttin. I'm surprised there is a variance in the price between Main Stage and Sully - I don't think there's much between them."
The favourite Ace High was impressive with the grit he showed through the closing stages to win the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick at his last start.
Rider Tye Angland was so confident he could win that he missed the wedding that day of his much-loved brother, with whom he used to chase rodeo prizes. The pair have drawn very economically at No 3.
Busuttin is relying on the stout New Zealand blood running through his three main chances. "We buy this type of colt at Karaka with these races in mind and the fact we've got three of them in the field says something for that."
Main Stages is by Reliable Man from a mare that traces back to his fifth dam, the former outstanding staying mare Jandell. Sully is by the same sire from another NZ stamina strain and Johnny Vinko is by Savabeel from an O'Reilly mare.