The dominance of super colt Pierro in Saturday's Caulfield Guineas is so great that even his closest rivals are struggling to put a positive spin on the race.
Pierro lines up for his ninth win from as many starts and his fourth at group 1 level in a race in which he has scared off most of the original entry of 34 three-year-olds.
Among the half-dozen or so who will oppose him is Darley's Golden Rose winner Epaulette.
But even his rider Kerrin McEvoy is no more than hopeful. ''One of the few positives we can take into it is that we've got closer than anyone else has to Pierro,'' McEvoy said.
That was in the Todman Stakes at Rosehill in March when Pierro, having his second start, edged out Epaulette by a short half-head.
If Epaulette has one slender advantage over Pierro, it is that he has experience at Caulfield, where he won the Guineas Prelude (1400m) at his last start. The son of Commands scored by only a slender margin, but McEvoy had encouragement for any supporters of an upset.
''At Caulfield the other day my horse loomed up and knew he had the job done, so he switched off and coasted the last furlong (200m),'' McEvoy said. ''So, he only really tested himself for a hundred yards. Hopefully he can concentrate on Saturday and hammer home hard.''
McEvoy will also ride French stayer Shahwardi in the group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m), a race he needs to win to gain a Melbourne Cup start.
Shahwardi, a stablemate of 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain, is qualified for the Cup but has only 51.5 kilograms and needs a penalty to lift him in the weights.
Another looking for a strong showing in the Herbert Power is the Luca Cumani-trained Ibicenco, who also has 51.5kg at Flemington. AAP