New Zealand racing may be entering rare new territory with the first ever synthetic track meeting at Cambridge today but for some of the jockeys it won't seem quite so foreign.
Senior riders Craig Grylls and Andrew Calder have spent considerable time riding in places like Singapore and Macau where polytrack or sand tracks have long been part of the racing system.
Grylls says going into today's historic meeting he thinks the first new racetrack opened in New Zealand in decades should provide fair racing and punters should still look for the best horse each race.
Synthetic tracks have a reputation of suiting horses who can jump and run, possibly because horses behind them get more kickback than on a firm turf surface or because often they are inside the main grass tracks so are smaller with shorter straights.
Grylls says his experiences riding on the new Cambridge surface, including the trials yesterday, and on overseas tracks suggests to him they tend to produce fair results.
"There are some 970m races tomorrow (today) and they will suit the horses who get out and run but that would be the case on turf too," says Grylls, who sits third on the jockey's premiership.
"But in the 1550m races I think you will see horses able to make long, sustained runs and still win.
"I enjoyed riding on the polytrack in Singapore and it tended to be very fair and in the trials at Cambridge I have found this track the same too.
"What you do find which is different from turf is if you are slightly back you are better off pulling a little wider so you don't get too much kickback and because the racing surface is so even horses can get into their stride and keep going." Grylls suggests with a fortnightly winter circuit starting today both trainers and punters will quickly find horses who seem to prefer the synthetic track over turf, no different to wet and dry track horses.
For today's launch though punters will need to rely on the plethora of trials which have been held on the new surface with maybe the possibility locals could have a slight advantage because of familiarity, although that is the case with many racetracks.
"I am riding a horse called Lincoln Thunder (R2, No.4) who hasn't shown that much on the turf yet but has trialled really well on the synthetic," says Grylls.
"And I am riding another one for Stephen Marsh (trainer) in Darci Palmer who has also trialled well on it so he could be a chance." Most of the local trainers spoken to by the Herald expect the track to play fair with the obvious caveat that in the four 970m race today the leader won't be waiting for their rivals.
One of the added bonuses of the new surface is it gives trainers the option to start their two-year-olds this late in the season before putting them aside for a spell without having to risk a heavy track.
"It extends our two-year-old autumn by a few weeks at least," explains Marsh, who has 12 in today.
"Often you want to give the two-year-olds a run at this time of the year but might not be keen on the wet tracks but you can feel confident lining them up on this track," says Marsh.
With that in mind the juvenile race five today could be one of the better form races heading forward and Marsh says his debutante Fiscal Fun can get out and go from barrier one.
But she meets juveniles with either good raceday form like Red Vienna (No.1) or others with excellent synthetic trials form in Sail (No.2) or Ima Roca Bee (No.9).
Cambridge Jockey Club officials have worked hard to bring the former training-only track's facilities up to speed for today's meeting and have under cover viewing areas, catering, a liqour licence and betting terminals.