The pieces are falling perfectly into place for Dark Destroyer to give his Kiwi trainers one of the rarest of Derby doubles at Eagle Farm tomorrow.
The three-year-old will start favourite in the A$1 million Queensland Derby in which he heads a New Zealand team including Pinarello and Tutukaka, with all three having realistic chances for different reasons.
Dark Destroyer is consistent, handled a wet track in brutally proficient fashion to win the Rough Habit Plate last start, and is the logical choice because nothing seems to be against him.
He has barrier one, which could become tricky later in the day depending on how chopped up the inside of the track gets, but the rail goes back to the true position the inside 7m could be the place to be all day if the rain doesn't come.
While Dark Destroyer has had a near faultless Queensland campaign, Pinarello has been non-existent, missing the Rough Habit because of the wet track, so goes into tomorrow fresher than trainer Roger James would ideally like.
He has the x-factor and breeding to win but is in the opposite position to Dark Destroyer not only in terms of preparation but also in his start from a wide barrier. He will be allowed to settle back by Leith Innes, so would prefer a swoopers track.
Tutukaka has always looked a possible Derby winner and his peak performance would put him in contention but trainer Tony Pike admits he and almost all his rivals are guessing.
"I was really happy with him in the Rough Habit but I just wished he had attached on to the back of Dark Destroyer when he looped the field rather than sitting and waiting," says Pike. "I think he will be in the finish but how the track plays and how the race is run may determine his winning chances."
Pike is already a NZ Derby winning trainer with Sherwood Forest two years ago and James has been the King of the Derby in New Zealand but it is Dark Destroyer's trainers Andrew Scott and Lance O'Sullivan looking for the rare same-season Derby double.
They trained Asterix to win the NZ Derby at Ellerslie in March so are hunting for their second Derby of the season but with a different horse, a feat accomplished by few New Zealand-based trainers.
There are Kiwi trainers who have won two derbies in a season before but almost always with the same horse, the most recent being Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman with Mongolian Khan when he took out the NZ/ATC Derby double in 2015.
But with New Zealand only having one Derby a year, winning two in one season is incredibly hard and even more so with two different horses.
Dark Destroyer was supposed to be in the Derby at Ellerslie until a setback ruled him out but that has aided his Queensland campaign, seeing him arrive with fresh legs.
Scott and O'Sullivan have become three-year-old specialists as they also trained Rocket Spade to win the NZ Derby last season and have won the last three runnings of the Auckland Guineas, with Dark Destroyer and Rocket Spade joined on that list by Dragon Leap.
"He is where he needs to be and while we don't know what the track is going to do we think the inside draw gives him his best chance to stay the Derby trip," says Scott.
A Dark Destroyer victory would also provide young rider Sam Weatherley, 22, with a rare $1 million double of his own.
Winning $1 million races is a rarity for any New Zealand jockey, apart from Opie Bosson, because we only have three a season and even getting a ride in Australia's A$1 million races if the stuff of dreams for most.
But Weatherley, well on his way to becoming our champion jockey in coming years, won the $1 million Karaka Classic Mile with Pin Me Up this season so victory would put him in the seven-figures club twice in a few months, a club without many Kiwi members.
THE KIWI CONTINGENT AT EAGLE FARM
R1: Nom De Plume (12)
A late entry after a huge win on synthetic track last week. Looks a high-class staying filly but the drier the better as she hated a wet track two starts ago. A wide draw is no help.
R2: Swords Drawn (6)
Got bogged down with 58kg in the wet last time but is far better suited by weight scale here and the better track will help. Improvement is likely.
R2: Soprano Supreme (15)
Easily beat Swords Drawn last start but meets him 4kg worse off here. An untapped mare with a good chance of getting some black-type.
R5: The Chosen One (2)
The week's delay to this race and drier track should suit, and away from his last-start Sydney Cup failure his best Aussie form is well up to running a place here. He looks overs compared with Coventina Bay.
R5: Coventina Bay (10)
Won two Group 1s at home this season and was strong but ultimately outclassed behind Zaaki in a similar field last start. Can get closer this time.
R6: Meritable (11)
Was always going to need a fresh-up run when fourth last time and will improve a lot. Aussie bookies rate him a $51 chance but he should be half that at the most. The best upset hope.
R6: El Vencedor (14)
Another who got bogged down in the deep stuff here last time. Promising but his NZ form doesn't stack up to some of the Group race form here yet.
R7: Gospodin (15)
Second at Gosford last start but he is the one Kiwi who would have preferred this race to have been held last week on a heavy track, which he loves. Still a chance but to make matters worse he had a good draw last week but gets a worse one in the redrawn field.
R8: Dark Destroyer (1)
Starts the $4 favourite after winning the Rough Habit Plate last start. The logical choice.
R8: Pinarello (20)
Hasn't raced since victory in April at Pukekohe, and missed the Rough Habit because of the wet track. Has the x-factor to still be the third favourite at $7.50 but the wide barrier will see him settle in the back of the pack.
R8: Tutukaka (11)
Has always looked a possible Derby winner and his peak performance would put him in contention but how the track plays could determine where he ends up.
R9: Entriviere (12)
The Railway winner who might be New Zealand's fastest horse. Enormous on a heavy track here last start and the better surface will help but she still faces settling back. She needs a cart into the race and she can win but her percentage chance of doing could depend on which part of track provides the late fast lane. The inside of the track is likely to chop up a lot by this time of the day.
R10: Babylon Berlin (19)
A fast mare who keeps copping wide draws and wet tracks. May miss this race and start next week as a big weight plus a wide draw is not much fun.
R10: Letzbeglam (23)
Will need a miracle to even get a start as she is fifth emergency and even then would start from the carpark. Which is a shame because she has another good Aussie win in her, probably just not tomorrow.