Premiership-winning trainer Cran Dalgety says Christen Me doesn't deserve favouritism for the New Zealand Trotting Cup even though he is adamant the harness racing superstar is better than last year.
Dalgety can't hide his delight over how Christen Me is shaping up just a few weeks away from the trials and a likely return to racing at Addington on September 27.
"He is definitely better than last season, simple as that," says Dalgety.
"He is bigger in the back, stronger and his whole attitude has changed.
"He now struts around the place like a good horse, like he knows he is better than the others.
"To be honest, I'm pretty excited about the whole thing."
Christen Me was sensational last season, winning the Taylor Mile, Messenger, Harness Jewels and pacing 1:50.5 when winning the Chariots Of Fire in Sydney. However, it was the arrogance of his wins that astounded, as he was often allowed to sit parked and control races against elite opposition before running away to win as he liked.
While he has only dipped his hoof in open class, he won't even need to improve to win a major Cup or race like the Miracle Mile but Dalgety isn't letting himself get carried away.
"The New Zealand Cup is our first aim and unless something disastrous happens in the standing start lead-ups, which I don' t think it will, we won't deviate from that plan.
"But I am not kidding myself we deserve to be the favourite.
"You have Terror To Love, who has been there and done that twice, and then you have I'm Themightyquinn, who has won three Interdoms and two Auckland Cups.
"So, they are the big boys and we are the new kid on the block."
His opinion is shared by TAB harness bookmaker Steve Richardson, who says Christen Me may open as only the third favourite for the Cup, when the market is released in about 10 days.
"It is a hard one to line up but I am, initially, thinking Terror To Love will be the favourite," says Richardson.
"But then again, I'm Themightyquinn has beaten him every time they have met so he will be close, too.
"They might even open joint favourites and that could well push Christen Me back to third, which is hard to believe because he usually opens incredibly short in any race," he said.
Richardson will get plenty of form guidance leading up to the Cup though, with Christen Me and Terror To Love likely to clash in all three of their lead-up races, while I'm Themightyquinn could, potentially, meet them both in the Ashburton Flying Stakes.
Courtesy of Michael Guerin and the New Zealand Herald