The race to be crowned the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Master for 2016/17 is on.
And it’s wide open.
With two legs remaining, both to be staged in Auckland at Alexandra Park, a number of scenarios and possibilities can play out.
Currently leading the race is Sydney trotter On Thunder Road, albeit with a one point margin over Glenferrie Typhoon and Monbet but all three quality performers are notable absentees from the Auckland features.
No Australian trained performers have made the trip across the Tasman Sea.
So the Gr.1 $100,000 HR Fisken & Sons 2017 ANZAC Cup this Friday night takes on a whole new level of importance.
While the prizemoney is paramount for connections, the Group One glory coupled with the possibility of being crowned the Trotting Master is hard to put a price tag on.
First staged back in 2012, the list of winners includes I Can Doosit, Stent, Superbowlcheerleader, Sheemon and Monbet last year.
It’s a list that oozes class and another name will be added this weekend.
But who will it be?
A field of 15 with 2 emergencies has been drawn to contest the 2200m mobile start open class feature, a lead-in event to next week’s $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup.
It’s an interesting mix of up and coming talent taking on proven stars.
Champion horseman Paul Nairn has won just about every trotting feature imaginable in this part of the world, but the ANZAC Cup is missing from his trophy cabinet.
That could quickly change this weekend when he sends out his pair of richly talented mares Habibti Ivy (gate 4) and Wilmas Mate (gate 13), both mares have come up with handy draws.
Habibti Ivy is unbeaten in four starts this campaign while the giant Wilmas Mate indicated her best form is just around the corner following her slashing effort last start.
Also winless in the event is Tim Butt, the master horseman is hoping former European trotter Daryl Boko can provide him with his maiden victory.
The Majestic Son gelding will need luck after being slammed with gate eight, the outside of the front-line.
Last start Group One winner Eyre I Come is chasing back to back features following his last start Addington triumph two weeks ago, the Mark Jones trained gelding will start from gate 3 and will command plenty of respect.
Flashy trotter Bordeaux must overcome a second-line draw (gate 14) but has the services of champion reinsman Dexter Dunn, connections have kept their charge fresh for this assignment.
Former Northern Derby winner King Denny (gate 11) returns north with mixed form but can’t be ruled out with Mark Purdon taking the drive.
Gee Up Neddy (gate 7) is having his first start at Alexandra Park and comes north with solid form and certainly into the mix.
Talented performers Great Things Happen (gate 10) and Sunny Ruby (gate 15) both return to New Zealand after successful recent stints in Victoria.
Great Things Happen has won three of his last four starts while Sunny Ruby is a triple Group One winner.
The local hopes appear strong with Lemond (gate 1), Prime Power (gate 5) and Temporale (gate 6) all boast excellent form while High Gait (gate 12) also returns from Victoria and joins the astute father/son combination of John and Josh Dickie.
Veteran performers Realmein and Foray are listed as the emergency runners.
The 2016/17 APG Trotting Masters is set for an exciting finale and the race is well and truly on.