Ricky May says suggestions Terror To Love is vulnerable heading into tonight's Easter Cup are off the mark.
Questions have been swirling this week after the champion reinsman gave the three-time New Zealand Trotting Cup winner a quiet time of it in a two-horse trial at Ashburton on Tuesday.
But while some may ponder whether or not the run will have been enough to get Terror To Love in shape to defeat champion mare Adore Me in tonight's $100,000 Group I event, May is keeping his cool, calm attitude.
"I've been driving at the trials at Ashburton for 30 years," May said yesterday.
"I know what a hard run can do to a horse there when they are four or five days out from a race. There have been plenty who have set that track alight during the week only to fail at the weekend."
Terror To Love was timed to run his 2400m heat in 3min 8sec - a sedate effort considering he went 2min and 54.9sec for the Ashburton Flying Stakes on the course, over the same distance, last October.
To May the time is irrelevant.
The most successful horseman in New Zealand Trotting Cup history with seven wins was impressed with how Terror To Love looked and felt.
"I thought he looked fantastic, certainly not like a horse who hasn't raced for a while. I gave him a really strong preliminary before the heat too and he felt awesome.
"You can never get a [true] line on him at the trials anyway, he knows when it's raceday and grows another leg.
"I was really pleased with the trial, I definitely don't think we have too much to worry about other than Adore Me."
Back at his favourite track and racing over his pet distance, Terror To Love will still be favoured by many to down Adore Me tonight.
The pair clashed for the first time last month in the Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park and Terror To Love emerged on top after giving the brilliant mare six to seven lengths at the top of the straight and running her down.
"I think we can beat her for speed.
"I'd be a little more worried if we had to sit outside her and try and beat her though."
Adore Me, too, has some question marks hanging over her head.
She is backing up from a gruelling 2600m event last week in which she started off a 40m handicap and set the stop watches alight by smashing the New Zealand all-comers record while also going within a whisker of beating the national mobile record as well.
Tonight will be the first time Adore Me races over the ultimate distance of 3200m.
In her favour though is that it is likely the lead will be waiting for her whenever she decides to come forward, with stablemate Arden Rooney looking the most likely early pacemaker.
"I don't think we would get the lead if we went around and he [Arden Rooney] was in front. So it's going to be pretty tactical and moves in the race will be crucial."
Terror To Love was last night rated a $1.70 favourite to win the Group I with Adore Me at $2.10.
Both horses are likely to offer more on the tote tonight, although the value for Adore Me is sure to entice some punters.
The TAB have already taken a $5000 bet on Terror To Love.
May holds a strong hand in tonight's secondary feature - the Group III $25,000 New Zealand Trotting Stakes for two-year-olds.
He will drive smart trotter Monbet for Greg and Nina Hope, who suffered defeat for the first time in his career at Rangiora when beaten by BD Love.
❏ Samantha Ottley became the first female to reach 100 career driving wins while a junior driver when she was victorious with Gogirl Bromac at Forbury Park on Thursday night.
After a couple of weeks stuck on 99, the talented young driver, who hails from Orari in South Canterbury, finally broke the duck and notched up the ton to continue her remarkable fledgling career..
In her first raceday drive, Ottley was successful when Nigel Paul won at the Kurow meeting on her 18th birthday.
Attached to the stable of Colin and Julie de Filippi, Ottley currently sits second on the national junior drivers' championship behind North Island horseman Sailesh Abernethy.
By Matt Markham (Courtesy of The Press)