The best harness racing drivers from the North and South Islands square off in six races at Alexandra Park on Friday night (August 29th).
Named the Island Of Origin series, it has brought together the best drivers in New Zealand in a contest that decides bragging rights between the islands for the next twelve months.
Points are scored on a 3 - 2 - 1 basis and judging by the fields and the spread of form horses to both camps, it should be a close and exciting contest.
The South Island team is full of talent with last seasons leading driver Dexter Dunn joined by Ricky May, Mark Jones, Blair Orange, Gerald O'Reilly and Jimmy Curtin..
The North Island team is just as talented with the "Iceman" Tony Herlihy teaming up with Zac Butcher, Philip Butcher, Peter Ferguson, Todd Mitchell and Scott Phelan.
Most home teams have an edge to start with and that was added to just a little bit by the fact that the Northern horsemen have 31 drives on Friday night compared to 30 for the Southern horsemen.
All the races for the invited drivers are penalty free which is a nice bonus for the trainers and owners who have supported the series with their horses.
The most interesting race for the invited drivers is undoubtedly race three, the C2 - C5 mobile pace over 2200 meters.
Last seasons smart 3 year old Te Kawau looks hard to beat but a couple of real up and comers could prove troublesome with a run to suit.
Royal Taz has won his last two for Tony Herlihy in the manner of a horse going places and from his handy draw looms as a genuine threat to the favourite.
Pricillas Girl has run two slashers this time in and appeals as a value runner if the other two go to war at any stage.
Six of the other runners in the field have either won or been placed at their last start so the favoured trio won't have it all their own way.
The invited drivers creates real interest leading into Friday night and the Auckland Trotting Club should be applauded for bringing the concept to fruition.