The connections of the two best horses at Alexandra Park tonight have issued punters a stern warning.
And while that doesn't mean Temporale and Massive Metro can't win the $20,000 main trot it does mean you should think twice before you back them. Then don't.
The two group one winners are using tonight's race as a first stepping stone to the Inter Dominions, which starts four weeks tonight at The Park.
But while trainers Michelle Wallis (Massive Metro) and Tony Herlihy (Temporale) knew their star trotters would be facing a handicap, they weren't expecting a 50m back mark over 2200m.
That came about after the trotting nominations for the night's better graded races were split down the middle to provide bigger fields but with the cut-off point being rating60, the two open class trotters have ended up off a very difficult handicap.
Wallis, who trains in partnership with husband Bernie Hackett, would have liked to have
seen a smaller field, higher-rated front line and therefore reduced handicap.
"It makes it really hard for us, starting off such a big mark over 2200m," she says. "We are trying to get ready for an Interdom series and this is hardly the ideal way to start.
"But we need the racing so we will start. Anything could happen but if all the horses step then it is going to be really tough to win and I don't see him being driven hard.
"So he is probably going to need a few gallopers and a lot to go right to have a winning chance."
Temporale is a former Rowe Cup winner who was still good enough to finish second in the rich Great Southern Star in Victoria last season but he has struggled with soundness issues that have given Herlihy little choice but to send him to Wallis and Hackett for a course of beach training.
"The beach is the best place for him," said Herlihy, who still officially trains Temporale but has lodged an official horse movement notice with HRNZ to allow punters to know where the gelding is stabled.
Both horses went to the Pukekohe workouts last Saturday and were solid off a smaller back mark in the main trotting heat but were beaten late by Paramount King.
The way the latter trotted on Saturday, with a 30m head start tonight, he might be the one to beat if he produces his best.
Herlihy also has two leading chances in the main pace tonight but thinks Somethingaboutmary might need a run fresh up and was slightly perplexed by the performance of Blazen River last start. "I know he was in a far better race but he slightly disappointed me," he suggested.
"But he is back in class and it looks a good race for him so he might be the better of our two chances."
Tonight's meeting hosts a $25,000 Pick6 and has $10,000 injected into the last Quaddie pool but for many the focus will come on Monday in the Kaikoura Cup, the final lead-up to the NZ Cup in 11 days time.
On A Roll (R2, No.3): Beaten by a smart filly last start and well drawn over the 1700m.
Each way: Paramount King (R4, No.7): Gets 30m start from the open class stars and if he races up to last Saturday's workout that could be enough.
Better drawn: Be My Rock (R8, No.2): Started from second line in mile last Friday but drawn to stay handier tonight and this field within his limits.