Harness Jewels star Double Delight is still rated a chance to make next week's Northern Trotting Derby even after missing the obvious lead-up at Alexandra Park on Friday.
The last-start Northern Oaks winner was fancied to give our best three-year-old trotter Highgrove a run for his money in the $70,000 Sires' Stakes as she was drawn to follow him throughout the 2200m mobile.
But trainer-driver Tony Herlihy has been forced to pull her out of the Group 2 after she came down with a minor infection this week.
"I don't think it is anything major and she actually already seems to be recovering but I didn't want to take any chances with her," said Herlihy.
"So I was pulled her out this Friday but I am pretty confident she will be okay for the Derby next week."
Double Delight's scratching denies Herlihy one chance of downing a superstar Dunn-trained trotter in Highgrove and he admits his confidence levels aren't high that he can beat another on Friday night.
Herlihy has Bolt For Brilliance in the $100,000 Anzac Cup, a race that was saved from possible abandonment by Yuri and Kimkar Dash being thrown in against the big boys. The biggest of the big boys, if not in actual size but talent, is Sundees Son and he and Bolt For Brilliance dominate the Group 1, the TAB rating them at $1.45 (Sundees Son) and $2.80 (Bolt For Brilliance).
Bolt For Brilliance has beaten Sundees Son twice when he has been able to lead, one of those occasions being under these exact circumstances in the Lyell Creek back in February, but Herlihy says a repeat of that will not come easily.
"Most times we race he is too good for us," he said matter-of-factly.
"We did beat him in the Lyell Creek but he seems to be getting better every start.
"He is hard to beat when John [Dunn] drives him like that [in the National Trot two starts ago] so while we might have the gate speed to lead this week it still doesn't make it easy."
Herlihy has been entrusted the drive of Mach Dan in the first running of the Roy Purdon Memorial on Friday. A victory would mean the world to him or brothers-in-law Barry and Mark Purdon.
Mach Dan probably won't be the one to give the family that win since he is up against stablemate Self Assured but Herlihy must be in the running to drive him in next week's $400,000 Auckland Cup.
Trainer Mark Purdon was suspended at Addington last Friday so could miss the Cup and if Natalie Rasmussen chooses to stick with Spankem, Herlihy could be favoured to partner hot favourite Self Assured and chase what would be a remarkable ninth Auckland Cup win.
More incredibly only one of those previous eight Cup wins has come this century, with Gotta Go Cullen in 2008 Herlihy's only Auckland Cup success since 1996, when Sharp And Telford gave him his seventh Auckland Cup in an 11-year period.