The 30-year-old comes to Alexandra Park tonight to drive superstar pa' />
Blair Orange now believes in the old saying "be careful what you wish for".
The 30-year-old comes to Alexandra Park tonight to drive superstar pacer Auckland Reactor in the $100,000 Woodlands Taylor Mile knowing what could be his one and only drive on him should be a winning one.
But had Orange got his wish and driven Auckland Reactor last start, he would still be getting criticised all over Australasia.
Orange was the next choice to drive Auckland Reactor in last month's Interdominion Final, losing out to champion Australian reinsman Gavin Lang.
While gutted to miss the Final, Orange breathed a massive sigh of relief after Auckland Reactor gave Lang a horror drive, pulling ferociously and dropping out to run last because he was striking his sulky wheels with his hooves.
"Had that been me driving the horse, I'd still be getting bagged for it," admitted Orange.
"There was nothing Gavin could do but because people don't know me over there I would have been slagged.
"So you could say it will be a lot more comfortable getting on him now than had I been on him that night."
Orange has driven Auckland Reactor only once in public, qualifying him as a late 2-year-old.
He takes the reins tonight as trainer Mark Purdon is still suspended from his opening night Interdominion drive.
Orange says filling in is a privilege. "He is the horse everybody wants to drive so it will be the highlight of my career. And the pressure is off a bit after what happened at the Inters."
Auckland Reactor should win tonight's 1700m group one sprint, especially as the small field somewhat negates his wide barrier draw.
But small fields can provide very tactical racing at Alexandra Park, something Orange has a plan for.
"Sure, over a mile you'd like to be in front, but if he has to sit parked outside a horse like All Tiger I think we can do that and still win."
Trainer Purdon has been thrilled with Auckland Reactor's work in the past 10 days, with a private workout at Alexandra Park last Saturday convincing him the champ is ready to return to the winner's circle.
"He paced 2400m in 3:8, his last 400m in 26.5 seconds and felt great."
Back in familiar surroundings, on a bigger track and wearing a longer sulky to overcome his recent tendency to strike his sulky wheels, it is hard to see Auckland Reactor beaten.
All Tiger looks the closest thing to a danger as he was fantastic in the Easter Cup last start and is emerging a as genuine open class star.
Still, the only time he beat Auckland Reactor he did so courtesy of a 50m start when the latter galloped.
Pembrook Benny looks next best, while there will be interest in Australian-trained former US pacer Genuwine, a high-class juvenile who has paced a 1:50.4 mile. But he has a bad draw and has never raced right-handed.
Meanwhile, Orange believes his other three drives tonight all have winning chances.
"Dream Machine [race three] has gate speed and has really improved, while Lancome should get the perfect trip behind Sixpence in the fillies race. Algeepee has a chance in the first."