The Canterbury weather could have as big a role in the outcome of the first classic of the season as talent or luck.
Because the trainers of the favourites in tomorrow's $500,000 Al Basti Equiworld 2000 Guineas at Riccarton admit they won't really know what to expect until maybe a few hours before the race.
Rain is forecast for the next two days in Canterbury and while Riccarton was listed as a good 3 yesterday it could range between a good 4 and a slow 6 or even 7 if enough rain comes.
And that would completely change the race.
Premiership-leading trainer Jamie Richards is one hoping the track stays firmer for speedster Sword Of Osman.
"He is a horse who would definitely prefer it firmer so he can bounce off the track," admits Richards, trainer for Te Akau.
For Sword Of Osman a wet track would present two problems. First his dislike for the surface and secondly a testing 1600m on the big track would seem outside his natural stamina range, whereas he could possibly sneak a group one 1600m on a good track if jockey Opie Bosson is able to lead and manipulate the race like he did in the Sarten at Te Rapa last start.
"Te Akau have won a fair few Guineas races at Riccarton racing on the speed and that will be where he is heading," says Richards. "But yes, the weather will be crucial for us."
The Baker/Forsman stable has three of the favourites in the classic and Andrew Forsman admits the track conditions could change their pecking order.
"They are all well and obviously we would be thrilled to see any of them win, it is one of the biggest races in the country," says Forsman.
"But the track will be interesting and that can even change throughout the day.
"It doesn't tend to get too bad down there so we are hoping it stays a good track. But if it did get wet then the one it would suit the best out of ours might be Qiji Express."
He is the least favoured of the Baker/Forsman trio, with Madison County the $2.80 elect with the TAB and the unbeaten The Chosen One the $5.50 second favourite even though he hasn't been exposed at the highest level yet.
Madison County was sensational winning the Hawke's Bay Guineas two starts ago and looks a natural miler and punters and bookies are forgiving his third to Sword Of Osman and Qiji Express in the Sarten Memorial at Te Rapa when he was in trouble a long way from home, trapped back in a slowly-run 1400m.
"He is obviously a great chance but the track becomes interesting for him because he has a good barrier at two but that would change if the inside of the track was off.
"But I don't think it will come to that," says Forsman.
Like The Chosen One, Dawn Patrol is still learning after just two starts but gives trainer Frank Ritchie a chance to win the 2000 Guineas that eluded his iconic racing hero Bonecrusher in 1985.
Dawn Patrol won a highly-rated three-year-old event at Matamata last start and was a sound trials third against good older horses since and a wetter track would probably assist him not only because of his proven record but in how much it would disadvantage others.
"I think he is probably a better horse on top of the ground but he is proven on wetter tracks so it won't bother us as much as some of the others," says Ritchie.
"He flew down today (Thursday) and is spot on so he will get his chance."
CHCH CUP WEEK
• Cup week in Christchurch begins at Riccarton tomorrow.
• The $500,000 2000 Guineas is the richest thoroughbred race of the week.
• The market could change depending on the predicted rain in Canterbury.