There is loyalty and then there is blind loyalty.
You could say Jonathan Parkes' decision to give up what would have been a full book of rides at Manawatu tomorrow to travel 500km from Palmerston North to Ruakaka for one ride falls somewhere between the two.
We're not going to say it's blind loyalty, because that infers poor consideration. This is so cleverly long-term smart it's off the clock.
Hiflyer may or may not win tomorrow's $35,000 Clansman Motel Bream Bay Bowl, but in terms of this exercise, that is largely irrelevant. What REALLY matters is that Parkes is guaranteed to continue to warm Hiflyer's saddle through the rich spring and summer group-rated races because he made this long-distance commitment.
Hiflyer is one of the country's most talented topliners and as a relatively recent addition to the top ranks, he should be about to embark on the peak of his career.
He is lengths better than tomorrow's opposition, but is no good thing to win.
His 61.5kg on its own is a big weight, but not prohibitive. Racing weights are relative and what makes this questionable is he will have to concede 7.5kg to every other runner but Mr Knowitall and dual acceptor Marciano, both of whom are claiming. That would stop most at this level.
Hiflyer won nicely when beating Sacred Rebel in his resuming barrier trial at Te Awamutu, his first public appearance since late January.
He has been a slightly lean upright type that doesn't carry a huge amount of extra condition, so that one trial should have him reasonably close to fitness.
He can win, but will need good luck through the entire race. His finishing burst can be electric.
"It's truly wonderful Jonathan is coming up to ride him," said trainer Peter Lock. "He knows the horse and will be able to tell us exactly where we are going forward."
Hiflyer has already won on the Ruakaka circuit, an important stat.
The five-year-old son of Tavistock is likely to venture to Sydney after tomorrow's resuming run, depending on post-race feedback from Parkes.
"We're definitely going up on Saturday to use this as a stepping stone towards going to Australia," Lock said.
"Jonathan knows the horse better than anybody and I will have a chat with him after the race.
"If he thinks that he is forward enough to go to Australia, we will probably head over with him in the next fortnight.
"If he thinks that he needs another run or two then we will go back to plan B and have a good chat about what happens from there."
Lock indicated the Listed Civic Stakes (1350m) at Rosehill in Sydney on June 30 could be an option for Hiflyer.
"The plan is to have two runs over there and to be home and go to the Hawke's Bay carnival in a nice fresh state. He goes very well fresh up."
Trainer Chris Gibbs, now flying solo with Donna Logan in Singapore, has 24 acceptors for the meeting and, not surprisingly, has several strong chances.
Rikki Tikki Tavi, one of Hiflyer's opponents, can win and Rockabye-baby is a strong chance in Race 6.
At Palmerston North, Wise Men Say should be a lot sharper for the $50,000 L J Hooker Manawatu Steeplechase than he was at Trentham last Saturday.
He tailed the field a week ago, but should be able to stay even a shade handier this time.
The final half a round should be testing enough for his amply stamina.
- additional reporting, NZ Racing Desk