When two top horses clash, there is often a singular moment when the race is won and lost.
In the $1 million Karaka Classic at Ellerslie on Saturday night, that moment could be approaching the home turn.
Although the Karaka Million for 2-year-olds is the signature race of the glamour meeting, the first clash of budding 3-year-old superstars Aegon and Amarelinha sets up as the race of the night.
Aegon is unbeaten in three starts, including the 2000 Guineas in November at his last start. He is trained by masters in Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, with one of the biggest brains in the jockeys' room, Leith Innes, aboard.
Amarelinha is trained by Jamie Richards, who has wrested the national premiership away from Baker and Forsman, and will be reined by Danielle Johnson, who is riding a wave with no beach in sight.
They share raw talent that looks certain to last way past their classic year, and while they aren't the only horses in the 1600m feature, the market says they are.
Considering Aegon's small but elite body of work, it is surprising the TAB bookies have Amarelinha a clear favourite, especially as she is yet to beat a proven age-group star.
But she won the Eight Carat Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day like a filly in a hurry, then trialled in stunning fashion against stablemate Melody Belle, a trial that even had Forsman worried.
"She is very, very good, no doubts about that," says Forsman. "But then again, so is our horse. The one big difference is she [Amarelinha] has had that recent racing, whereas our horse hasn't because of his spell after winning at Riccarton.
"This race is important but he is also only just coming back up for a new campaign that could well stretch into Australia so it obviously can't be at his peak.
"So the reality is, for us to win, we might need to be clearly superior to Amarelinha."
It would be easy to think Aegon will get tactical advantage over Amarelinha because he is drawn better but he has been ridden to find his feet early in all his races so Forsman says that will be the case again this evening.
He sees a scenario where Aegon is midfield in the running line with Amarelinha close by.
Richards sees it the same way.
If they are right, then the moment that decides who takes home over $500,000 might be coming off the final bend and into the home straight. The one in clear air could sneak a length, carry some momentum, snatch a winning break.
Forsman sees Amarelinha being wider and "able to make her own luck", whereas Aegon might get stuck in traffic.
"But our horse can finish very, very hard and his work on Tuesday suggests he is where he needs to be, even without racing.
"It might just come down to that little bit of luck, for both of us."
Aegon is Baker and Forsman's only starter, whereas Richards is set to dominate the card, with winning chances in every race and five in the $1m 2-year-old race.
"I still think On The Bubbles is our best chance of the 2-year-olds but Millefiori has come through this week well and my opinion on their two chances is getting closer as the week goes on," Richards said.
Richards rates them
Here is how top trainer Jamie Richards rates his three best chances on Karaka Million night:
* Entreviere (R5, No15): She is very, very fast and we are thrilled she got back into the race.
* Amarelinha (R6, No11): I have a lot of respect for Aegon but this filly is exactly where she needs to be.
* In A Twinkling (R2, No2): Has been going top races, will race handy and be hard to beat.