Today's weather could play a huge role in tomorrow's winners and might even derail the return to the track of high-class mare Queen Of Diamonds.
But if the blueblood does make it back for the $75,000 Rich Hill Taranaki Breeders at Hawera co-trainer Andrew Forsman says she is ready to win even after six months away from the races.
Queen Of Diamonds isn't the only major punting "if" at either northern thoroughbred meeting tomorrow, with form at both Matamata and Hawera having the potential to be affected if the rain forecast does eventuate.
While there are plenty of winter performers and spring stars in the major races who would handle another wet surface at both venues, a mare like Queen Of Diamonds is less likely to start on anything getting toward a very slow track.
"Ideally we wouldn't want her coming back on a wet track, so we will be watching the weather," said Forsman, who co-trains the mare with Murray Baker.
"We don't put an exact number on what level of track we are comfortable with but anything getting to like a Slow8 we start thinking about what is best for her heading forward.
"We don't really want her getting into a slog fresh up but if the weather did happen to hold and the track wasn't too bad then she will be hard to beat. But we are hoping there isn't much rain because it looks a good comeback race for her."
Queen Of Diamonds emerged as a potential topline mare with some huge performances last season, including being close up in one of the form races of the season, the Karaka Mile.
She found the Oaks distance beyond her on a wet track in March and is probably more of a 1600m to 2000m mare, with a race like the Captain Cook a possible target in search of
the group one victory to seal her already valuable broodmare career.
For all her class she meets some hardened equine warrior women in the Breeders Stakes like Nicoletta, Darscape Princess, the in-foal Art Deco and impressive last-start Ellerslie winner Lupelani.
For any normal stable the return of Queen Of Diamonds might be the weekend's highlight but the Baker-Forsman camp have serious group one horses peppered all over Australasia.
Former Vodafone Derby winner Vin De Dance returns in the Matamata Cup, for which he has a surprisingly good record over the 1600m but might struggle to give smart mare Concert Hall 4.5kgs, although the latter is another of the good weekend bets who would operate better with less rain. It is in Australia though where the deepest gold mines of spring are to be mined and the stable has three serious targets worth a combined A$1.8 million at Randwick and Caulfield.
Again the forecast is important because if Sydney continues to dish up a wet spring that would suit both Quick Thinker and Rhaegar in the A$1m Spring Champion Stakes.
"I think they are both ready for the 2000m and Quick Thinker has already shown he can beat some of these horses on a wet track but the way Shadow Hero beat our two last start he is going to be very hard to beat again."
In Melbourne last season's best Kiwi three-year-old Madison County cops a double whammy of the 58kgs topweight and barrier 19 in the Toorak over 1600m. He will improve with his fresh up ninth when he never really got into the race but might need to run career best figures to win.
The Chosen One represents the stable in the Herbert Power over the 2400m and Forsman says a top-two finish there could propel him into next week's Caulfield Cup.
"He was disappointing last start but has worked well since and the blinkers go on this week. So for him it is an important race for setting his goals for the rest of the spring, as it is for most of our Australian team this weekend."
• Whether tracks get wet at both Matamata and Hawera tomorrow will play a crucial role in how punters should approach the two local meetings.
• It is also a big weekend for New Zealand horses at both Randwick and Caulfield tomorrow.
• Results at those two venues could determine what Kiwi horses contest some of the glamour races of the spring carnivals.