Written Choice (inside) beating Essence Of Terror in October (Image: Racing Photos)
For the trainer of a fast horse, the 955-metre 55 Second Challenge at The Valley can prove lucrative with $55,000 on offer for the slickest horse comes season's end.
Friday night's meeting at The Valley marks the end of the season and trainer Logan McGill will be one of the most nervous men on course as the sprinters dash for the cash at 8:30pm.
McGill is currently in the box seat to pocket the $55,000 after his smart sprinter Written Choice clocked a sizzling 54.77 seconds on Cox Plate Eve.
Written Choice was on-speed throughout in setting his low mark. He clocked the first 155m in 10.60s off a standing start then went 10.78s from the 800-600m and 10.70s from the 600-400m before coming home in 11.06 and 11.66s respectively.
WATCH: Written Choice's Valley win
In terms of setting a fast time, it was the perfect ride from Stephen Baster, who ensured the four-year-old used every ounce of energy he had.
Track Manager Marty Synan played down the prospects of the 955m time being lowered, suggesting the track won't be as fast as it did the night Written Choice set his mark.
"I don't think it will play as firm as it did that night, we had it pretty firm knowing that we had the Cox Plate the next day," Synan said.
"It'd be good to see the 955m time get close to that (Written Choice's 54.77s) but I think the winning time at the moment is very good."
Daily Sectionals Vince Accardi took into account just how fast the track played that night in assigning Written Choice an adjusted IVR rating of 2.5 lengths above the benchmark. In calculating that figure, Accardi has penalised Written Choice four lengths for how fast the track raced.
The reality is, The Valley hasn't been racing anywhere near as quick over the past two months, so for a horse to lower Written Choice's time, it's fair to assume they will need to rate well over that 2.5 above IVR benchmark to take home the $55,000.
Looking through Friday night's field it will take a huge personal best from any of the eight runners to go faster than 54.77s. However, if they are going to, they will need to fly through the first 555m of the race.
Desert Lashes drawing out in gate nine should help inject some early speed into the race. She is capable of running them along well above standard through the first half of the race, potentially setting it up for a better-than-average overall time. Plateau Gold is the other speed horse but based on historical times he doesn't have the toe to go with Desert Lashes early.
Superhard is the current favourite and with good reason. He produced a lethal turn of foot to win first-up at Flemington, clocking the best last 800/600/600 and 200-metre splits of the meeting - even quicker than Osborne Bulls in the Black Caviar Lightning.
WATCH: Superhard's Flemington win
However, the query with Superhard is can he stay in touch in a faster-run race, let alone finish off fast enough to beat Written Choice's time. He has performed well off a strong tempo in the past, but that was over 1400m.
He is well drawn out in eight to avoid any trouble in the run and the track has been kind to run-on horses in recent weeks. He's the one to beat but it will take something special to take home the $55,000.
The X-factor may be Gun Case. He is having his first start for Matthew Williams and has jumped out exceptionally well in preparation for this return to racing. He is a 955m winner and he maps to enjoy a soft trail from gate four.
WATCH: Gun Case's Camperdown jumpout
Desert Lashes ran a narrow second in a 955m race the day after Written Choice set his mark but was more than three lengths inferior. It would be hard to see her improving enough to run 54.70s, let alone on a track likely to race significantly slower.
It will be interesting to see if the jockeys ride with any added intent through the first half of the race with the $55,000 on the line. However, based on the field and the fact the track is racing slower than it was Cox Plate weekend, McGill looks set to walk away from The Valley far better off on Friday night.