The New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Million has attracted the best horses of their generation to race for the millions of dollars on offer here at Ellerslie on Saturday in New Zealand's richest sporting competition.
Excitement is building for the two million-dollar features, with the competition heating up on Wednesday at the conclusion of the live barrier draw.
Two of the favourites for the $1m Karaka Million 2YO faired very differently at the crucial barrier draw.
Early favourite Probabeel will have to overcome the outside barrier to be victorious, while her main danger and current favourite, Whiskey Neat, drew perfectly in barrier 2.
Proabeel taking out the NZB Insurance Pearl Series-sponsored 1200m hereat Ellerslie in January
Probabeel is owned by Brendan & Jo Lindsay, former owners of Sistema who recently become proprietors of the iconic Cambridge Stud.
They have two chances in the race with Louis Luck also in contention – a horse named after their much-loved dog who, in turn, is named after Louis Vuitton.
Lotto winner Lou Te Keeti is in with a chance to win another jackpot with his runner Aalaalune set to take on the $1million race.
Te Keeti hasn’t indulged in much with his Lotto winnings, but has invested in thoroughbreds and is starting to reap the rewards.
Young trainer Jamie Richards of Te Akau Racing has the biggest representation in the race with five chances - over a third of the field.
Probabeel is his favoured chance, but his stable's other runners - Louis Luck, Aotea Lad, Yourdeel & Challa are worthy of their place in the field.
The $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic is a tail of David verse Goliath with multinational racing empire China Horse Club represented by hot-favourite, Madison County.
However, he will have to beat the rags-to-riches story of Imelda Mary who cost only $3,500.
Does her name sound familiar? Whilst she was bought with the 3YO race in mind, she also ran in the 2YO million-dollar feature last year.
Imelda Mary triumphing in the Group 2 Royal Stakes here at Ellerslie
Named after trainer Wayne Hillis’s mother, Imelda Mary will start a sentimental favourite and has a strong chance - having won the Group 2 Royal Stakes here at Ellerslie at her last start.
China Horse Club have two chances to win the race with Queen of Diamonds a very good second-string option.
An Australian raider is on its way with Long Leaf another good chance in the three-year-old race.
Owned by another international powerhouse in Coolmore, Long Leaf brings good Melbourne form to add a trans-Tasman rivalry.
The second favourite in the race is Surely Sacred who has only had three starts but has won two of them and finished second in his other.
While the favourite is going to be hard to beat, our in-house tipster is tipping Surely Sacred to cause an upset.
It could be a big day for trainer Tony Pike who trains Surely Sacred and Whiskey Neat – with both horses in with a chance at million-dollar glory!
It is sure to be an action-packed night with great racing - happy punting!