Knowing the people involved in tomorrow's $1 million New Zealand Derby wanted it held at Ellerslie almost as much as he did kept Ellerslie boss Paul Wilcox sane during one of the toughest weeks of his career.
He hopes to reward them and the racing industry with not only a smooth Derby Day meeting tomorrow but a normal, open to the public Auckland Cup day next Saturday.
Auckland's return to alert level 2 at 6am tomorrow is as close to what Ellerslie could have hoped for, having already moved the Derby Day meeting back to tomorrow and made the decision even if the region had gone to level 1 they couldn't have run a normal meeting with the usual hospitality areas.
So the meeting will go ahead with no public but owners with horses racing tomorrow allowed to attend and even ARC members who register, with industry participants to wear masks inside and in areas like the front parade ring and scales area.
They were the same rules the Avondale Cup meeting at Ellerslie operated under two weeks ago and the meeting went off without a hitch.
Chief executive Wilcox and his team have been through an uncertain week, with a delay to midnight Sunday meaning they would have had to race on Monday and the alert level staying at 3 until even Monday afternoon meaning they would have lost their meeting to Hastings.
"All along the most important thing for us was having the Derby and the support races held for the industry as well as playing by the Government's rules," says Wilcox.
"So if it had had to go to Hastings we would have appreciated what they were doing for the industry but we are thrilled to have it here.
"Ellerslie is the home of the Derby and to read in the Herald this week so many trainers feeling the same way, wanting to win a Derby at Ellerslie, meant a lot to me and my team. To hear things like that was a bright moment for us during what has been a pretty tough week dealing with so much uncertainty."
Barring any further Covid concerns the meeting should go ahead seamlessly tomorrow as the fields are drawn and markets set for a Sunday meeting.
The weather has also played its part with enough rain to aid the track but the expected fine weather likely to see the day start rated a 5 with the potential of an upgrade to a 4.
The meeting being held tomorrow means trainers wanting to back their horses up at Ellerslie next Saturday, travel them to the Oaks meeting on Trentham on March 20, or even aim them at Australian racing, are dealing with similar time frames.
With the Government indicating it will leave Auckland at level 2 until at least the start of next weekend, Wilcox is hopeful for a level 1 Auckland Cup day next Saturday, which has most hospitality areas sold out.
"We would love to have a real celebration next Saturday for Cup day, which has a stunning support card, but we will wait a few days to confirm that.
"By early in the week and definitely midweek we can start firming up our plans for Cup day and listen to the Government announcements but it is not a matter of needing to sell much more that day because so many areas are sold out.
"But we will get Derby Day out of the way first.
"We are just thrilled to have it here," he added.