THE burning question ahead of Saturday night's Group 1 Bathurst Gold Crown is whether anyone can beat a red hot Lochinvar Chief.
One of the big contenders has to be Emma Stewart's Ideal Dan, driven by The Lagoon's Amanda Turnbull.
Turnbull can complete the Gold Crown Carnival career collection with victory in the $100,000 finale on Saturday at Bathurst Paceway, adding to her victories in the Gold Tiara (2015), Gold Chalice (2017) and Gold Bracelet (2018).
And she's got the horse to make it happen.
Ideal Dan looked superb in his heat win after working three wide early to take a sit behind the leader, pulling clear late for a comfortable win.
He's drawn gate three, directly to the outside of fastest winner Lochinvar Chief.
Bathurst Harness Racing Club CEO Danny Dwyer said David Moran's Lochinvar Chief certainly commands attention following an electric heat win.
"When you have a look at the lead times and first quarters, by far and away the fastest time in that regard was Lochinvar Chief," he said.
"He and Ideal Dan were much quicker in that stage of the race, which is very telling from an energy point of view. For them to go that quick early and finish the way they did is impressive.
"Ideal Dan ran a similar time in the first quarter but ended up coming home two seconds slower than Lochinvar Chief. After the barrier draw he's definitely justified in his favouritism."
The market is dictating that the race has four genuine winning hopes, along with other heat winners Tasty Delight and Idyllic.
"Tasty Delight has beaten Lochinvar Chief at Menangle, and he seems to be a very impressive racehorse," Dwyer said.
"He was in behind the leader when he beat Lochinvar Chief and came from nine to one to win here. He's not one dimensional."
An upset can never be counted out though in a race which can provide surprises.
Gemma Hewitt's Kashed Up and Chris Frisby's He Aint Fakin represent the two home-trained hopes in the main event.
They're up against the odds but it's wrong to count them out.
"He Aint Fakin, from the draw where he won't have to do that much early burn, is great for him and his sectionals were right up there with some of these top chances," Dwyer said.
He Aint Fakin is drawn three wide on the back row while Kashed Up is right in the mix as he starts to the outside of Ideal Dan on the front line.
Bathurst's Gold Crown Finals night had been hinging on the results of a Covid-19 test from a steward involved in a Penrith meeting last week.
The test returned a negative result on Friday morning and allowed all meetings from Saturday onward to proceed.
As part of Harness Racing NSW's measures to contain the spread of coronavirus the state has been split into four regions where participants must race within their own area.
Bathurst will host all meetings in the western region from Saturday through to the end of this season on August 31.
Saturday's Gold Crown Carnival finals meeting starts from 6.25pm with the main event to be run at 9.20pm.