Auckland's only Group 1 pacing mares race looks to have been handed to rising star Amazing Dream, after the two biggest names standing between her and the Queen Of Hearts at Alexandra Park on Friday week disappeared.
Amazing Dream may have emerged as the best mare in the country after her dramatic win in the mares' feature on New Zealand Cup day and her luckless fifth against many of the best pacers in the land in the NZ Free-For-All.
But while she won the Woodlands Derby last season, she is still relatively untried in open grade, especially against the best male pacers.
That suggested the two mares in the country who are proven against the open class males - Belle Of Montana and Princess Tiffany - could have tested Amazing Dream in next week's Group 1, especially if they could get in front of her.
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But that won't be happening because both are out of the race, with Belle Of Montana not racing again this season.
Trainer Barry Purdon has put the Queen of Hearts defending champion out for the rest of the term after she was found to have minor wear and tear in a knee after her latest start.
"She needed that all flushed out so she is out for the season but I am confident she will make it back to the races," says Purdon.
Princess Tiffany was listed in the pre-noms market for the Queen Of Hearts but former trainer Mark Purdon has confirmed she will not be returning home for this carnival or any time soon.
With the two established open class mares out, Amazing Dream is now the $1.12 favourite for the Queen Of Hearts.
She returns to Alexandra Park this Friday for a small but select opener to the Christmas carnival at a meeting that also features Copy That and American Dealer.