Champion trainer Mark Purdon concedes favourite Self Assured is going to need to produce the performance of his career to win the $900,000 The Race by Grins at Cambridge on Thursday night.
But he takes comfort in knowing the superstar pacer is in the right form to do that.
The long-time favourite drew the outside of the front line in New Zealand's first major slot race over 2200m mobile on Thursday.
Purdon says that will mean pulling back, maybe all the way to last before making a mid-race move, hoping the speed merchants Alta Orlando (barrier 2), Spankem (3) and Mach Dan (5) set up a tempo that allows the backmarkers into the contest.
"It really wasn't the barrier we wanted," said Purdon.
“He is going to have to go back but there does look to be huge speed early so hopefully they go hard.
“I think Brent (Mangos, driver of South Coast Arden) might take it easy early too so we could end up coming into the race later.
“While the draw isn’t great for us it had really made the race and there should be a lot of talk now.”
Purdon says Spankem’s barrier 3 aids the former Miracle Mile winner while his recent stable addition Mach Dan will have Ricky May aboard and Purdon will give him the licence to launch early.
Even after drawing the dreaded barrier 8, Self Assured remained the $2.40 favourite with the TAB ahead of South Coast Arden and Spankem as $4.50 equal second favourites while the big market mover was Alta Orlando, who is into $12 as many will see him as the early leader, giving him plenty of options.
Sadly, Southland pacer Pembrook Playboy is out of The Race after showing signs of lameness on Saturday morning so was not drawn in the field, his slot holder and connections still receiving the $37,500 minimum payment. - Michael Guerin, HRNZ
Field for the $900,000 The Race at Cambridge on Thursday
1. Stylish Memphis
2. Alta Orlando
5. Mach Dan
6. Hot And Treacherous
7. South Coast Arden
8. Self Assured
9. Majestic Cruiser