Stephen Ralph's formula for racing success is simple.
"We like to use apprentice jockeys to get weight allowances for the horses and then get them handy because you don't win many races from back in the field," he says.
Ralph hopes that recipe cooks up another winner, in what is already a personal-best training season, in the feature sprint at Ruakaka this afternoon. He takes three chances in the race north, with Manrico (R8, No 1), Monaco (2) and New York Jazz (4) all capable of winning the strongest race of the domestic weekend.
All three will use apprentices to claim weight off their backs, standard practice for Ralph runners.
"We very rarely have the best horses, so we try to give them the best chance we can," he explains.
"So that means using claiming riders for weight relief and then making the riding instructions simple for them.
"Often they are: get them out and get them handy, at least try to be in the first five turning for home because not many horses come from well back in the field to win."
Those tactics worked for Manrico last start at Ellerslie, while New York Jazz was handy but wide in winning a similar race to today when he last raced at Ruakaka last September.
So, while that pair have obvious claims today, Ralph believes Monaco is the classiest of his sprint trio.
"But sometimes he gets too far back and that is a hard way to win races.
"So, if I had to rate them as horses, I think he may be the best, but as chances this weekend, it is a lot harder to rate," he says.
"It might come down to the track and how much rain they get up there. If it rains, then the horses who get back a bit might come into play."
The sprint contains some genuine talent in Cheval Prometteur, Mr Universe, Burgundy Rose and Cyber Attack, so looks the highlight of a quieter New Zealand racing programme today.
The jumpers will provide the prime focus at today's other thoroughbred venue, Awapuni, where the Manawatu surface will be a heavy11.
But punters wanting an early investment on either of the two steeplechases face the unusual problem of Aigne being favourite for both.
The talented flat performer and more than useful hurdler is stepping up to steeplechasing and his last-start flat run suggests he is fit and ready to win.
But his trainer Kevin Myers has entered him in the maiden steeplechase worth $10,000 and the $50,000 Manawatu Steeplechase and is unlikely to scratch from either until last thing this morning.
With Shaun Fanning declared to ride him in the open chase, Aigne is almost certain to start there.
Oddly, the TAB bookies have Aigne a $1.50 chance to win the maiden chase but a $1.45 hope to win the open chase against more proven jumpers.