There are no more screws to tighten, punters are going to see the best version yet of Kiwi super horse Catalyst in today's A$1 million Australian Guineas.
"This will be the best he has ever been," says Te Awamutu trainer Clayton Chipperfield, who could be excused for leaving a bit in Catalyst's tank heading into today because even though it is a group one against two superstars in Alligator Blood and Alabama Express, Catalyst also has the A$5 million All Star Mile at Caulfield in two weeks.
But he says he is not thinking that far in advance, today is the Grand Final, the Mile a beautiful bonus. "This is the race we came here to win," says Chipperfield.
"Sure we are excited to be in the All Star Mile but it will be even tougher than this.
"So I have aimed his preparation all the way along to have him spot on for this."
So how has that gone?
"He is perfect right now, even better than when he won the 2000 Guineas at Riccarton.
"He is bigger and stronger than he was then but he is also smarter. But I have also screwed him down for this whereas I didn't for the C S Hayes."
That was last start when Catalyst and Alligator Blood waged a war down the Flemington straight, with the former a touch too good but with all the advantages. Today they are at even weights, a 1kg advantage over last start for Catalyst, and Chipperfield is adamant the 1600m and stage of their campaigns suits his gelding better.
"Alligator Blood is an amazing horse but even his trainer has admitted this week there can't be much improvement left in him, which is what I thought when I saw him in the parade ring last start.
"Whereas I absolutely know my fella has improved.
"Damian [Lane] came and rode him on Wednesday morning and said he was way better, much stronger and keener underneath him than he was before the Hayes. So this is him, the best I have had him."
Chipperfield spent too much time knocking around on one-paced jumpers to give Lane, who has become a world class force, too many instructions on how to ride today's classic but he knows what he would like to see happen. "I think the way the draw have panned out the Alligator will lead again and I think the way he won last start against the older horses Alabama Express will roll forward.
"So I'd love to see us in the one-one. That is how he goes his best because he will relax and show that turn of foot he does back home." All the numbers add up to a rare Kiwi-trained win in a major Australian Guineas, with so many of our great three-year-olds in recent decades having only been truly competitive with the Aussie elite in the 2000m-plus range.
But Catalyst has the rarest of turbo buttons, which he will need today in the battle down the long Flemington straight because Alligator Blood is a warrior and Alabama Express an emerging star.
When: 6.10 tonight (NZ time).
What: A$1 million group one three-year-old classic over 1600m.
Who: Catalyst from New Zealand versus last-start conqueror Alligator Blood and Alabama Express, who beat the older horses at weight-for-age three weeks ago.
The TAB market: $2.50 Catalyst; $3 Alligator Blood; $6 Chenier; $6.50 Alabama Express.