A horse with no chance of winning will save the $100,000 Anzac Cup from being abandoned at Alexandra Park on Friday.
The group one was in danger of being lost for the season yesterday afternoon when it had attracted only four entries, with many possible runners scared away by the twin talents of Sundees Son and to a slightly lesser extent Bolt For Brilliance.
That and the fact the $250,000 Rowe Cup over the punishing 3200m is on Friday week were the two main reasons behind the sparse four entries, which forced Alexandra Park to leave the nominations open until Tuesday morning, with Harness Racing New Zealand saying they will put up the majority of the money for the race if it gets to five entries.
It looks like that fifth will be intermediate grade trotter Yuri, a stablemate of Sundees Son, who will be thrown into the race to ensure it gets off the ground.
There is nothing untoward about the less than ideal situation and Yuri won't take any harm from the run, almost certainly settling last on the marker pegs, cutting corners and keeping up for as long as he can at 100-1.
The lack of entries, while disappointing, comes after every open class trot they contested this year has been won by one of Sundees Son, Bolt For Brilliance or in the case of last Thursday's Flying Mile at Cambridge, Muscle Mountain.
That giant, light-framed trotter has returned home to Canterbury to spell as trainer Greg Hopes thinks he has had enough for this campaign and he isn't the only one, with the record speeds our open class trots are being held out are taking their toll on many in the crop.
That is why last season's champion three-year-old Five Wise Men isn't starting in the Anzac Cup this week, being kept mentally fresh for the Rowe Cup as he negotiates the open tricky transition from age group trotting to open class.
The dominance of Sundees Son and Bolt For Brilliance would also deter South Island trainers who might usually have a throw at the stumps over the Rowe Cup carnival from making the trip north, with Matua Tana and Midnight Dash, both already proven at a high level, the only newcomers for this Friday.
Still, with horse like Temporale, Five Wise Men and potentially a few being saved for next week as well the Rowe Cup should attract 8-10 starters.
Alexandra Park bosses realise it is getting late in a very busy autumn and trainers can't start their horses everywhere so are not surprised in the first running of the $75,000 Roy Purdon Memorial, this Friday's feature pace, has only attracted six starters.
Some are being allowed to miss the race to concentrate on next week's $400,000 Auckland Cup but the open class pacers have been very busy, with the first four home in last Thursday's Flying Mile at Cambridge not backing up this Friday.
While the enormously-revised autumn racing calendar has provided some great racing the most obvious adjustment is to move both the Pacing and Trotting Flying Miles from their date last week to a week before The Race at Cambridge in mid April, which looks likely to be joined by a trotting slot race next season.
That would great natural Cambridge lead-ups to the two slot races plus create a natural three week break in May to allow horses to campaign at both the Taylor Mile-Messenger carnival and the two back to back meetings starting this Friday.