New Zealand's first ever trial meeting on a synthetic track tomorrow is set to confirm just how popular the new Cambridge surface has become.
There will be 13 trials heats on the new track which has been installed at the Cambridge thoroughbred training centre and has already become a regular part of the regime for many trainers there.
Leading trainers Tony Pike and Andrew Forsman estimate over half the horses who work at Cambridge each morning now work on the synthetic track.
"It has become very popular very quickly," says Pike, head of the NZ Trainer's Association.
"The horses like it and it provides a consistent surface all day.
"Initially a few trainers were cautious and let other go out and use it for gallops first but now everybody seems to love it." The full benefit of the synthetic surface probably won't be felt until the autumn when the plough and grass tracks at Cambridge get drenched but the quick acceptance of the new surface can only be positive, especially as they don't come cheap.
"The horses already like it even though at the moment we have some other good surfaces to gallop on," says Forsman.
"But when it gets wet that is when we will see the real benefit of it."There have been organised jumpouts on the synthetic track every Friday this month but that steps up a level today with the 13 heats including group one horses like Sacred Elixir and even juveniles from Te Akau trucked across from Matamata.
The first race meeting on the new surface isn't scheduled until May and one of the points of interest out of today's trials will be whether the track clearly favours front runners, which some synthetic tracks can purely because of their smaller size.
Today is only one trials meeting and will be by no means a definitive guide and Pike says he doesn't see that being the case.
"I am not sure it will be a jump and run track," offers Pike.
"So far in the jump outs I have seen the horses seem to get their chance to improve as there is a bit of a false straight before the last bend.
"Overall I think the response has only been popular here and eventually I think we will see more trainers coming from other tracks to trial on it firstly because the surface is consistent and secondly because eventually they may end up racing on it."
New Zealand's second synthetic track will soon start construction at Riccarton while another is mooted for Awapuni.