By MICHAEL GUERIN
There are two levels of confidence among the drivers taking on Elect To Live in tonight Caduceus Classic at Alexandra Park - low and very low.
The last group one race of the harness racing season has brought together the stars of a better than average juvenile filly crop but so impressive has Elect To Live been in recent months few of her rivals give themselves any chance of beating her.
After starting her career looking a typical Neil Brady steamroller - a lead and just keep going stayer - Elect To Live added a shock new string to her bow with a brilliant come from last win against outstanding colts Tricky Vic and Jack Cade last start.
As if that wasn't enough to guarantee her hot favouritism for tonight's $110,000 Nevele R sponsored event, Elect To Live has drawn perfectly at barrier four.
That will ensure she has no chance of getting locked away in the early rush but Brady should have few problems working Elect To Live to her favoured pacemaking role.
From there it is hard to see how her opponents will beat her.
"The draw is the big problem," said Jim Curtin, driver of likely second favourite Oaxaca Lass.
"I mean, I know we can't outstay Elect To Live and now I have to try and work out a way of outsprinting her.
"But the way she beat the colts last start she looked something special and when a horse that good leads then you are flat beating them.
"I am not saying Oaxaca Lass isn't good enough but we have our work cut out."
Curtin will have to overcome the dreaded barrier eight with the southern filly but after two courageous efforts since coming north six weeks ago she deserves to be second favourite tonight.
Pushing close for that role will be Angela Jane, who also has a tough draw.
She looked to have Elect To Live's measure in the Sires Stakes Fillies Final here last start but was outstayed in a desperate finish.
"I thought we were going to beat her that night but she was just too tough," said driver Tony Herlihy.
"That could be the problem this week too because Elect To Live just seems to be getting better and better. I was amazed by how she beat our good colts last start and the draw points to her being the one to beat again."
So if Curtin and Herlihy aren't going into tonight's race with any great confidence of beating Elect To Live, it is hard to rate any of the other fillies as serious winning hopes.
Those taking trifectas should include Black Marie who finally lived up to her potential last start.
Her co-trainer Mike Berger rates her little inferior to classy stablemate Hot Shoe Shuffle, who was the last horse to beat Elect To Live.
Black Marie sat parked before outstaying Millwood Annie her last start and if she can get off the gate well enough to trail Elect To Live tonight she will be a value quinella and trifecta option.
While Elect To Live will dominate tonight's feature, former Interdominion trotting champion Special Force will be almost as hotly supported in the $20,000 Heritage Auckland Green Lane Cup.
He easily overcame a 40m handicap to beat the same opponents last week and is only 5m worse off tonight, which is insignificant for a horse with his faultless manners.
His runner-up last week Paramount Jack looks the only danger.
But not quite as clear cut will be another of tonight's features, the Nevele R Winter Cup.
Exciting four-year-old Versace would be a certain favourite if punters could be sure he would step way safely, which is didn't do last start.
His last start fourth after breaking confirmed he is heading to open class but he will have to be on his best behaviour tonight against in-form class mare Dancingonmoonlight, impressive last-start winner Bellaholmes and the enigmatic Clifton Gold.
The latter is sure to be well supported tonight after two game wins in his last starts but does not appear well suited by tonight's handicap conditions in a big field.
This could mean his erratic manners will be tested by some early traffic jams.
Hanover Zip and Wicklow Bay provide upset value chances in what is the most even leg of Pick Six.
By MICHAEL GUERIN