New Zealand's most expensive racehorse returns this weekend with realistic hopes but the ultimate goal of Group 1 glory.
Not An Option was purchased for an undisclosed sum last year after two stunning juvenile wins before not much went right.
He was bought by a syndicate headed by Cambridge Stud and considering few horses racing in New Zealand are bought for more than $1 million, and that Not An Option was bought as a potential future stallion prospect, you can guarantee his purchase price was higher than anything else plying its trade on our racetracks.
That future stallion worth was why the son of Not A Single Doubt campaigned in Australia last season, trying to pick up a valuable Group 1, but he returned home winless and understandably tired.
But trainer Tony Pike says the colt is now thriving and he can't wait to start him down the path to the 2000 Guineas at Riccarton.
A victory would earn him a stallion career before another attempt at Australian black type in the autumn.
"That is the aim with him and I think the Guineas will suit him perfectly," says Pike.
"He will love the 1600m on a big track, left-handed, and everything this campaign is about peaking him for that."
That could inspire punters to bet up on Not An Option in just a six-horse three-year-old race at Matamata on Saturday, until they realise three of the five favourites for the Guineas are in the same race.
Not An Option meets Rocket Spade and No Filter, both of whom were enormously impressive winning their only races so far.
The beautifully-bred Unition is also in Saturday's field, his first race since being gelded.
"For a small field it is a very good field," says Pike.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the 2000 Guineas winner is in this race so from the outside barrier we are not getting carried away with his chances on Saturday. I know he will run well but he could well settle back and as long as he is hitting the line strongly we will be happy."
Premiership-leading jockey Danielle Johnson will ride Not An Option, with regular pilot Leith Innes suspended.
If safely through Saturday, Not An Option will head to what will be the key Guineas build-up and market decider, the $100,000 Sarten Memorial at Te Rapa on October 24.
That could see several of Saturday's rivals clash with the stars from last week's Hawke's Bay Guineas and may even decide who heads to Riccarton or whether some pull out of the trip south.
Jockey still in induced coma
Top jockey Rosie Myers remains in an induced coma in Wellington Regional Hospital after a fall at the Foxton trials on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old was knocked unconscious when she was dislodged from her mount after the line in a trial and a trailing horse contacted her head.
She was airlifted to hospital where she has been in the intensive care unit. Husband William Fell says she is in a stable condition as doctors run more tests.
"We are still waiting to find out more and the doctors are taking their time moving her through to the next stage."