For the second time in a week, a major Cup could come down to tempo at Addington this afternoon.
Because just as the dawdling 3200m and genius Craig Williams ride won Vow And Declare the Melbourne Cup last Tuesday, the speed today's $750,000 New Zealand Cup is run at might decide whether Thefixer or Spankem emerges victorious.
Of course the Mark Purdon-trained pair aren't the only winning chances in the 13-strong field but they dominate the market for a reason. They are the only two proven Group 1 winners at the highest level in today's race.
Cruz Bromac (NZ F-F-A), A G's White Socks (Easter Cup) and Our Uncle Sam (Bohemia F-F-A) have won Group 1 open class races but not one of the majors, whereas Thefixer is defending NZ Cup champ and Spankem downed him in the Miracle Mile.
After differing but impressive lead-up form, with usually perfect manners and on their home track, it is hard to see how one of the pair won't win. But who could come down to tempo.
If the Cup turns into a heavyweight slugfest, Thefixer would seem the best equipped to handle it, whereas a slower Cup with a winning time between 3m 55s and 4m 00s would seem to play into Spankem's hooves.
"I think it is fair to say Thefixer can do more work in a race but Spankem might be a touch faster," says Purdon, aiming for his fourth Cup in a row.
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"I couldn't be happier with them. Spankem has gone well all campaign, while Thefixer has really improved in the last two weeks.
"So it might come down to manners and the runs they get."
If punters assume the pair both step equally, then the problem for Thefixer could be a rival to push the pace, with Victorian visitor San Carlo looking the most likely to turn this into a sub 3m 55s Cup but his ace draw is a worry.
Thefixer overcame a mid-campaign setback to win the Cup last year and might deserve to be closer in the market to his stablemate but Spankem has so few weaknesses and looks in the zone, so he is still the one to beat.
Purdon doesn't have the usual domination of all markets today but suggests, in order, Amazing Dream (race eight), Taxman (race 12) and One Change (race seven) are his next best winning hopes after his Cup quartet.
And while he believes Ultimate Sniper is working well enough to take the junior free-for-all, he admits to favouring northern Triple Eight after his booming Kaikoura Cup third.