Cran Dalgety is a racing rarity — a South Island trainer happy he was in Auckland for level 3 lockdown even while his mates were enjoying a far more normal life in Canterbury.
Dalgety is hoping that pays off with Krug in tonight's $200,000 Woodlands Derby at Alexandra Park.
The rugged little three-year-old is looking to reclaim the age group crown he indisputably held last September and October before the extended feature race season caused by Covid-19 saw him wilt at Sires' Stakes time in November.
Krug looked on the back foot in two defeats to start this campaign but beat most of his rivals in the final lead-up last Friday, suggesting the gap between him and the likes of It's All About Faith, American Dealer and B D Joe may have closed but Krug is likely still the best of them.
But making sure he is fit enough to prove that is the reason Dalgety was happy to be trapped in Pukekohe at level 3 this week even though most other southern horsepeople had gone home, unable to return.
"I think I really needed to be here this week," Dalgety told the Herald.
"He has become such a colt this horse, so thick and strong that he has even surprised me how much work he has taken.
"I stepped up his workload last week and it sharpened him up.
"And had I been down home training him via the phone I don't think I would have done that, I wouldn't have believed he needed it."
"He is definitely one of those horses and I think he has improved this week again, so I am glad I was here to train in-person," says Dalgety, who also has outsider Alta Sensation in tonight's Derby.
As important as Krug's improved fitness levels are, just as crucial will be the fact he has barrier five, inside arch rivals American Dealer (seven) and It's All About Faith (eight).
American Dealer is a little stayer who would love a hot pace and has already proven he can sprint hard off a good tempo so he can win but might end up giving the other big boys in the market too big a start.
It's All About Faith was impressive taking ground off Krug in a rapid 26.6 second last 400m last Friday after Krug swooped on him mid-race to wrest the lead, and while there may be little between them now Krug has always appealed as the better stayer and It's All About Faith the more natural freegoer.
That will leave catch driver Joshua Dickie with a choice to make as It's All About Faith probably has the raw speed to press for the lead from the outside of the front line but that presents two risks: him getting too fired up or having to use too much energy to successfully see out his first run at 2700m mobile.
Krug's driver Tony Herlihy will also be awake to that and could look to also head forward hoping to wrest the lead first and then trail It's All About Faith, the tactics he used to beat him in both the Cardigan Bay Stakes at this meeting last season and the Harness Millions.
The Derby favourite isn't the only good reason Dalgety had to stay in Auckland this week as he has three juveniles in tonight's group features.
"I have Mitsi Gaynor (R4, No 9) and Chevrons Bypass (No 7) in the fillies races and they both have hopes but Mitsi was our best chance and she drew the second line.
"And Casino Action (R6, No 3) is a good colt in the Young Guns Final and he is also a chance but I'd like to see him lead and he has one inside him [Classy Operator] who will be thinking the same thing."
Alexandra Park multi-makers
Tonight's premier meeting in Auckland boasts plenty of short-priced favourites, many in the biggest races. Michael Guerin ranks the multi-makers.
1. Copy That (R8, No 5): Led and beat most of these last Friday and hard to believe he won't stroll to the front again. Could have Christianshavtime on his back, which makes his task harder, but in a race lacking pressure it's hard to see him run down. The anchor
2. Bettor Twist (R5, No 2): Has looked the winner of this race for six months and finally gets to the 2700m she should love. Has beaten most of these sitting parked last Friday but should wrest the lead early and win. Amazing they opened her $1.70 as she might start $1.25.
3. Bolt For Brilliance (R9, No 7): Even off 20m he should be too good as he has been beaten most of these off the same handicaps or worse. Seems to improve with every run in a campaign and the small field and weakish front line suggest he should be able to get handy at the bell while maintaining tactical advantage over Temporale.
4. Need You Now (R3, No 8): Got too far back last Friday. Hard to imagine she will wait so long to move and unless she has a torrid run should pay punters back some of what she cost them last week.
5. Krug (R7, No 5): It might seem odd labelling a horse who didn't even open favourite as a multi-maker but Krug should have been favourite and he looks the winner. He can lead and win or trail and win and it's hard to see him not at least placing for the cautious who can take him as a place or Win Insurance option on a saver ticket.