Sheree Tomlinson has an unusual concern leading into today's $300,000 Dominion with defending champion Marcoola at Addington.
She is worried about her favourite horse and her mother.
Tomlinson is the new driver of Marcoola, who was jaw-dropping winning this race coming from near last last season and just as spectacular in the Flying Mile at Ashburton last start.
Marcoola faces excitement machine Oscar Bonavena as well as the rock-hard fit Australian pair of Tough Monarch and McLovin in New Zealand's greatest trotting race.
But while Tomlinson is excited about steering the brilliant stallion today, she is worried about his stablemate Amaretto Sun, who gave her her greatest moment in harness racing when he won this race at massive odds two years ago.
Marcoola starts from barrier one with Amaretto Sun right next to him and Tomlinson says while she loves her old mate, she doesn't want Amaretto Sun, to be driven by her mother Amanda, to get in front of her and in her way.
"I'd rather the draws were reversed and Mum was starting from barrier one and me from barrier two," Tomlinson says with a laugh.
"He [Amaretto Sun] can get away really fast and I don't want him crossing us and me getting stuck behind him.
"I am not a big fan of barrier one in 3200m standing starts anyway because the horses out wide can get a jump on you but he [Marcoola] is actually very good from behind the tapes early.
"So I am hoping if we do get crossed we can get away from the inside early."
Two years ago when Amaretto Sun won, Tomlinson had the luxury of driving him for luck but with Marcoola the second favourite and at his most dynamic when he gets a head of steam up, she will launch him at some stage.
Exactly when that will be could depend on Oscar Bonavena. He has been dazzling all season and the last start wins of the pair at Ashburton, both in national records, were comparable.
"It is a different situation from two years ago, more pressure this time, but I think the Australians being in the field will help because they should force the pace, which will help us."
Oscar Bonavena might be world class and jogs national record times and sizzling splits and he might simply be too good for his rivals today, even after giving away a start from the unruly.
"I am happy to have him back there because I think it should ensure he goes away and then we settle for maybe even the first half of the race," says his trainer-driver Mark Purdon of his chances.
As good as Oscar Bonavena is, and he might be the real deal, if Marcoola races up to last year's form it could be the race of the carnival, especially with the Aussies added to the mix following their group one quinella on Tuesday in the New Zealand Cup.
Although Purdon looks likely to sit and swoop in today's big trot, punters can expect his speedsters to light up early in the $200,000 New Zealand Free-For-All.
Cruz Bromac returns to defend the title he won last season when he blasted to the lead and set his own terms and he looks to have the gate speed to cross to the front again but the key to the race will be whether he would hand the pacemaking role to Spankem.
Both are dynamic front runners over sprint trips and if Spankem wrests the lead off Cruz Bromac he becomes the one to beat, although that would still give the latter the passing lane late.
If Cruz Bromac leads and Spankem sits parked outside him or further back, Tuesday's Cup winner could claim the dream double.
• Best bet: Heisenberg (R6, No8): Driver blames himself for Tuesday's defeat for not getting horse's mind on the job. Similar field here but without the star filly who beat him.
• Awkward draw: Wainui Creek (R10, No3): Tricky draw but lots of early speed here could mean second line not a big disadvantage.
• Place punt: Doff Your Cap (R7, No4): Return to mobile suits and should be better for seasonal debut on Tuesday.