New Zealand's most powerful harness stable is set for compensation at Alexandra Park tonight for a horror start to racing's giant weekend.
The Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen stable have red hot favourite Amazing Dream in tonight's $125,000 Pascoes The Jewellers Oaks, the first group one of Auckland racing's massive week.
The superstar filly would have been favourite for tonight's 2700m mobile from any barrier draw but from gate three she is $1.12 to win and probably lead for most of the trip in doing so.
That win would put a smile back on her trainer's faces after a huge double blow yesterday when they lost two major Miracle Mile contenders from that Sydney carnival in the space of an hour.
Self Assured was ruled out of next week's A$1 million sprint after developing a hoof abscess but at least they are still hopeful of getting him to Alexandra Park for the Taylor Mile and Messenger in late April.
But the news for Chase Auckland is almost certainly worse after he pulled up abruptly in track work at Menangle yesterday and is suspected of having a pelvis injury which could rule him out for the rest of the season and maybe longer.
"It has been a shocking morning," admitted Purdon.
They still have horses such as Stylish Memphis (NSW Oaks) and Our Princess Tiffany (Ladyship Mile) in A$200,000 group ones tomorrow night but their open class blows continued a horror season for their elite pacers like Ultimate Sniper, Spankem, Turn It Up and Thefixer.
Tonight, though, Amazing Dream looks one of several odds-on chances punters can build a multi bet around, with Passion And Power (R8, No2) and It's All About Faith (Race 10, No5) likely to win their juvenile events while Dina Bolt (R9, No4) should win his lead-up to next week's Northern Derby.
But two of the other major races tonight have a potential match-race feel to them with the clashes of Copy That and One Change in the Derby prelude the most intriguing.
One Change has a champion's record in the best races, having won the Sires' Stakes and the Sales Series twice as well as the Jewels which would make any punter wonder how he is $2.70 compared with $1.70 for Copy That tonight. But Copy That has beaten him fair and square the last two times they have met, both times by getting in front of him.
He is drawn to do that again tonight but both favourites have stablemates in the race who would probably prefer to hand up one of their own so it could become a game of cat and mouse.
The Founders Cup sees a resurgent Star Galleria against Triple Eight over 2200m with the latter again having the draw edge but Star Galleria the better gate speed.
If Star Galleria could cross to the lead he would be the clear top pick but with On The Cards, who was quick enough to cross to the front in the Inter Dominion Final in December, drawn inside him it may not be a case of the favourite simply getting his own way.
Any early pressure would appear to aid Triple Eight, who is back from a luckless Hunter Cup campaign in Melbourne but before that finished third in the Auckland Cup.
Best bet: South Coast Arden (R1, No1): No luck in Waikato Guineas last Friday but has the gate speed to lead here and take catching.
Go again: Pretty Majestic (R6, No8): Came from last to win even stronger race last Friday, if she performs to that level again should win again.
Multi anchor: Dina Bolt (R9, No4): Loved racing here in December and draw makes it hard to see him beaten.