A Kiwi with a small stable takes on Australia's elite in Brisbane tomorrow and Jim Pender isn't intimidated.
Pender trains just 14 horses at his Tauranga base and the best of those, Gospodin, is perhaps New Zealand's only chance of a win at a waterlogged Doomben in the A$250,000 BRC Sprint, the Group 3 over 1350m.
For 69-year-old Pender that means taking on expat Kiwi superstar trainer Chris Waller, Gai Waterhouse, Annabel Neasham and Michael Moroney.
"I don't find that intimidating at all," says Pender.
"I have brought horses over here a couple of times before and I think if you are going to do it these days these are the carnivals to aim at.
"A horse like this, who I know can handle wet tracks, can win races like this whereas I think you need a very good horse to go take on the best Aussie sprinters in summer."
Pender's confidence was boosted by Gospodin's second in the Takeover Target at Gosford last start, when he had to come from a wider draw.
Tomorrow he should get the heavy track conditions that helped him emerge as one of our most promising gallopers last winter and into the spring, so Pender will be the only New Zealand trainer at Doomben happy if the track became a winter test.
"He will handle that, although so too will some of the other favourites in his race, and from an inside draw this week I think he can jump and put himself handy," says Pender.
"If he could pull this off then we would shoot for the stars and have a crack at the Straddy (A$1.5 million Stradbroke, June 11) because we have come all this way to expense to the owners and you don't get these chances very often."
While Gospodin (R6, 4.38pm) would enjoy a mudbath at Doomben, the Group 1 winning Kiwis like The Chosen One and Coventina Bay in the A$1 million Doomben Cup may not be able to beat hot favourite Zaaki regardless of what happens.
It is a quieter day for the New Zealand reps in Queensland, with next Saturday shaping as the best chance of major Kiwi success at this carnival.
Perhaps the most intriguing horse racing tomorrow is at Te Rapa in Helena Baby (R6, No 3), a veteran who three years ago was finishing alongside Te Akau Shark and Melody Belle in our best races.
He transferred to Hong Kong, hated it and failed to show his best, and is now back with former trainer John Bell.
Helena Baby caught the eye when third fresh-up on this track two weeks ago and the wetter it gets at Te Rapa the more it will suit him, with the question being whether 1300m second-up might be a touch sharp for him.
Still, he promises to add class to any winter races he contests and could easily win if he doesn't get too far off what looks likely to be a serious tempo.