Stephen Marsh feels he has a chance at winning the Wellington Cup at Trentham tomorrow.
While the Cambridge trainer didn't win anything when hot favourite Waisake pulled out of the race on Wednesday, he and his rival trainers feel they were handed a rare opportunity rather than heading to Wellington to play supporting roles.
Most would have been conceding tomorrow's $300,000 staying feature to the defending champion before his shock withdrawal but now Marsh and his contemporaries have a shot.
"I feel for Allan [Sharrock, trainer] and the connections because we have all had things like that happen," says Marsh. "But the reality is it has thrown the race wide open and now I think both of mine have a chance."
Marsh has two hardened stayers in Lincoln King and Starrybeel in the Cup and either could win without surprising because they are two of the few horses in the race with major Cups form.
Lincoln King was just beaten in the New Zealand Cup 14 months ago while it took Cheaperthandivorce to just hold out Starrybeel in the Waikato Cup last month.
The pair are seven-year-olds with plenty of miles on the clock but should be up for a hard 3200m and along with November's New Zealand Cup winner Mondorani and placegetter Leaderboard they have the truest staying credentials in the feature race.
Marsh admits he would have been a lot more confident about tomorrow's race with Starrybeel six weeks ago.
"When he finished second in the Waikato Cup I thought this race was the one he could win," says Marsh.
"He was average next start and I thought he raced below his best in rating 74 last time and that initially dented my confidence. But the more I have thought about it, as an older horse who knows what is going on, I think he didn't try that hard last start because he could feel it was a relaxed day out.
"I would still have loved to have seen him run top three that day instead of ninth but I am willing to forgive that and I think he will improve a lot on Saturday."
Lincoln King, being a son of Shocking, is just the sort of horse you expect to win a Wellington Cup down on class and Marsh says his last-start eighth in the same race as Starrybeel was better than it looked.
"He worked hard three wide before the turn and stuck on well. So I think they both have good each-way chances this week."
Further aiding Marsh's cause is having Craig Grylls (Lincoln King) and Michael McNab (Starrybeel) doing the steering, with the pair the new $1.90 favourites to win the jockeys' premiership now after a series of injuries to key rivals.
Mondorani has to be rated a good chance tomorrow, especially as the bigger the track the better his form, but this is one of the most open Wellington Cups in years where almost nothing would surprise.