There is never any certainty with driving winners. That much Maurice McKendry does know after a 40-year career.
But he heads to Alexandra Park on Friday night semi-confident he can chalk up a couple in the win column thanks to an appealing book of drives.
Chief amongst them is crack filly Chevron Supreme, who set tongues wagging when she blew her rivals off the track on debut last month.
She became the first sub-2.40 maiden winner at Alexandra Park, an extraordinary 1.56.7 mile-rate, and did all the leg work in front.
Start number two is this week and she faces a stern test against more seasoned opponents, but McKendry is carrying confidence after a trial at Pukekohe last Saturday.
“She felt just as good at the workouts; we sprinted home quickly and she did it easily.
“Most importantly she was good after the trial too, so I think she’s pretty well for this week.”
McKendry freely admitted to being a passenger in her debut outing and says her attitude will dictate whether he goes forward and leads again, or slots in from barrier six.
“Her manners will have to be better as she goes up in grade and even though she’s run the time, she won’t get it all her way this week.”
Bookies don’t tend to agree and opened her an unbackable $1.25 favourite on Thursday afternoon.
Veteran pacer Lets Elope was unlucky in the Spring Cup a fortnight ago, struggling for room in the last furlong.
He’s a live chance in the $20,000 Kerry Hoggard Memorial Holmes DG, over 2700 metres.
“If I could have fitted my cart through, he definitely would have run at least third.
“He hasn’t gone a bad race since he’s come back from Australia, it’s been quite surprising.
“If he continues on with that, he’s a chance of finishing in the money this week.”
Gun trotter Lemond faces a testing 40-metre handicap in the night’s main trot, alongside fellow Group 1 winner Temporale.
They’ll need a slack tempo to be any chance, according to McKendry.
“He’s felt great in his two starts this time in; trotting well and relaxing nicely.
“But if they go hard up front, he just won’t be able to get in to the race off 40 metres.
“So, hopefully it’s just an average tempo and then he could be a chance of outsprinting them late.”
Ash is a last-start winner who is fresh-up for seven weeks and tackles a rare two-mile trot for Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis.
McKendry drove him to win at the workouts last weekend and said he did everything right.
“He’s improving every time and his trial was nice enough; we only sprinted home but he did it well.
McKendry takes his own stable horse, Red Reactor, back to ‘the Park’ and he’s drawn wide in a very strong mid-grade race.
But he has excellent gate speed and McKendry expects to use it.
“He’s been racing really well and I’ve been very happy with him.
“You can’t really go back from the draw in these races, because they just don’t come back to you anymore.
“They just keep running. So, we’ll go forward and hopefully settle handy.
“Some nice horses are drawn inside him so it won’t be easy, though.”
Rounding out his book is As Free As Air, a pacing-bred trotter who ran second from the mobile last time, but strikes a standing start this time.
“She was good last time, doing everything right, but that was from the mobile.
“I think she’ll win races, but her manners have to improve from the stand.
“If she trots the whole way, she can win.”
Asked to pick out his best chance, he was unwavering.
“The filly (Chevron Supreme) should be hard to beat if she goes like she did last time.”