Decision time approaches for the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott stable as Rapido Chaparro looks well suited in the $200,000 Carlton Draught Port Macquarie Cup on Friday.
After being placed in the event over the preceding years with Social Element and Caped Crusader, the stable would dearly love to place the silverware on their vast mantlepiece.
The question is whether the stable travel the High Chaparral gelding up the highway or fulfil the engagement in the Benchmark 88 over 2000 metres at Randwick on Saturday.
Other horses with dual engagements in this event and the cup are Mongolian Wolf, Aliferous, High Opinion and Master Shuhood with all having strong prospects following recent performances.
Rapido Chaparro has the form on the board for a prominent display in the north coast feature with a comprehensive victory by just over four lengths at Canterbury before a narrow second at Rosehill last start behind Dr Drill.
The Richard Litt trained gelding, Morton's Fork, has been allocated top weight following a record of 35 starts for 6 wins, 10 placings and stake earnings of $675,000 with the former James Cummings trained galloper coming off a last-start placing at Eagle Farm a fortnight ago.
The guarantees look to be there for the Chris Waller stable to gain a start after drawing emergency status with Humbolt Current looking to continue the stable's great record in the event following victories over the last two years.
Humbolt Current's previous placings at Rosehill behind Shock Alert and Dr Drill would provide plenty of positives in assessing the chances of the Fastnet Rock gelding.
The recent prelude could hold the key to the event with Lady Evelyn holding on for a narrow victory over Dew Drop, providing both with automatic entry for the event, while O'Driscoll was a creditable third.
Peter Graham was able to sustain the run on O'Driscoll to dash the Tas Morton trained gelding to the lead in the straight before being challenged by Lady Evelyn and Dew Drop down the apron of the track.
Lady Evelyn claimed the front in the shadows of the post after a soft run in transit and was able to hold out the finishing burst of the John Sprague trained gelding, Dew Drop with O'Driscoll holding on for the minor prize.
Unfortunately, the Jason Deamer trained mare, Lady Evelyn, has drawn the widest barrier in the feature and this could be the leveller regarding the prospects of the Reset mare.
Richard and Michael Freedman have the recent Bathurst Cup winner, Zaunkonig, entered and it will be great to welcome back home former local apprentice, Andrew Adkins, who will ride the son of Northern Meteor.
It wouldn't be a Port cup carnival without the Kim Waugh stable figuring prominently and Spring Charlie looks set to provide the testing material in the $70,000 Birdon Sprint.
Since running a narrow second in the Provincial Championships at Randwick in the autumn, the son of Myboycharlie has won two barrier trials at Wyong and Cessnock, which should provide an ideal preparation for the feature sprint.
The stable has a strong record in the race highlighted with the dominant win of Oxford Poet by five lengths in 2017 and Supreme Effort the year prior.
The Kris Lees trained mare, Star Reflection, was responsible for a solid performance at Randwick when defeated just over a length by Sweet Scandal at her first run from a spell and should provide the testing material if the stable elects to start while Grimoire also has strong credentials.
Evopex has been racing with great consistently and should provide the anchor wager in the Fastplast Building Supplies Hastings Cup for prominent Coffs Harbour trainer, Jim Jarvis, with the last start Rosehill Highway winner, Haames, looking the obvious danger.
Other safe wagers on the program centre around Beat That in the opening event following a sound placing on the track a fortnight ago while Emperor's Star looks hard to beat in the Class 2 following a comprehensive Scone win recently.
The closing event provides an interesting sidelight with Wyong trainer, Stan Thomas, engaging Robert Thompson for the ride on the Love Conquers All mare, Ondo Pasa.
Stan is one of the oldest trainers still in the business at age 82 and it is significant that he has engaged Australia's most successful jockey for the ride on his charge with the partnership being one of the most mature on record.
Thompson is still riding with great poise and confidence at age 61 and continues to be the most successful rider in the recent history of the Port Cup with victory on Jo Oughto in 1985 followed by Royal Décor, Lord Hundalee and World Wide.
Stan Thomas identified the early ability of "RT" providing him with a ride as an apprentice in 1975 and his judgement was vindicated as the riding legend continues to break Australian records.
Admission tickets are $20 each and can be pre-purchased from Settlers Inn, Finnian's Irish Tavern, Macquarie Hotel and Mercure Centro with special buses organised
Two free bus services will operate from the Tacking Point Shops [Ocean Drive] bus stop, with pickups at all regular bus stops along Pacific Drive, Kennedy Drive, Lord Street, The Glasshouse and the Gordon Street Bus Station.
With an eight race-program headed by the $200,000 Carlton Draught Port Macquarie Cup, $70,000 Birdon Group Sprint and showcase prizemoney for the balance of the card ensuring a total of $490,000 is distributed throughout the day, the stage is set for a wonderful day of racing.
This will be followed by Steeline Race Day on Saturday with seven events on the card and full TAB and Sky Racing coverage with trackside patrons able to follow all the action from Spring Champion Stakes Day at Randwick and stakes racing from Caulfield.