If the north has any chance of making a dent in the New Zealand Trotting Cup they need to win tonights Holmes DG at Alexandra Park.
Only four northerners are still in contention for the Cup at Addington on November 14 - Jacks Legend, No Doctor Needed, Maxim and Hug The Wind - and all four contest tonights $20,000 feature named in honour of late ATC president Kerry Hoggard.
They are up against two Canterbury raiders in Thefixer and Cash N Flow, who wouldnt be considered in the top six horses from the All Stars stable so if the northerners cant beat them tonight, especially with the advantage of race fitness, then it is hard to make a case for them being realistic players come New Zealand Cup day.
The Cantabs arrive north with big reputations, impressive strike rates and in Cash N Flows case a brilliant Alexandra Park record but they havent raced this season whereas rivals like No Doctor Needed and Hug The Wind are fully fit after four starts this campaign.
But for all that, Jacks Legend may be the norths best chance tonight and the horse to beat. He already has group one winning form in last seasons Jewels and only peaked late when third fresh up two weeks ago.
Trainer Barry Purdon is pleased with how the four-year-old has progressed since and is hoping a faster getaway tonight enables him to make the most of his front line draw.
That would be ideal, if he can get away and stay handy but he will be better than last start and I was happy enough with him then, says Purdon.
Purdon also has Hug The Wind in tonights race and the Auckland Cup placegetter needs to lift a level to stay on track for a prominent Cup effort after racing a level below his best, admittedly without a great deal of luck, this campaign.
The southern pair of Thefixer and Cash N Flow are on a par fitness-wise according to trainer Mark Purdon but he expects both to improve after their seasonal debuts. Still, they have genuine class on their side so either could win without surprising.
Barry Purdon holds a huge hand in race nine tonight with three of the favourites but opts for Raptors Flight as his best hope. He was strong to the line in his last race and can keep on winning, says Purdon.
Purdon is also confident Accumulator can turn the tables on Italian Delight in race four after looking likely to beat him last week at Cambridge before a late gallop.
I wasnt sure he was going to beat him last week but the boys tell me the angle was deceptive and he was a neck in front when he bobbled so he has to be hard to beat this week.
While the open class action is at Alexandra Park tonight the harness race of the weekend domestically is the Methven Cup on Sunday where Dream About Me is a surprise entry against Titan Banner, with Classie Brigade kicking off his New Zealand Cup campaign.
And at Melton tomorrow night Kiwi pacer Field Marshal faces a second line draw in the A$200,000 Victoria Cup, a draw made even worse by hot favourite Lennytheshark starting from the ace.
• Best bet: Dream About Me (Methven Cup, Sunday): Huge run at Addington last week and the grass should suit.
• Improver: Jack's Legend (Alex Park, R8): Will be fitter for last start and if he stays handy his sharp sprint could win it.
• Luckless: American Brave (Alex Park, R5): Desperately unlucky last start and Sires' Stakes bound so hard to catch with best manners.