There is no such thing as a favourite in the famous Head of the River, according to Christ Church Grammar master of rowing Stephen Saunders.
But many of Saunders' Public Schools Association rivals disagree, rating Christ Church a clear frontrunner for the coveted first-eight race ahead of tomorrow's regatta at Champion Lakes in Armadale.
Christ Church have been the outstanding performers in the lead-up regattas and appear set to claim a third win in four years.
But Saunders isn't getting carried away. He said last year's winners Trinity College and a rapidly improving Scotch College represented serious threats.
"Head of the Rivers are always very tricky things and I would hate to say that we're favourites," Saunders said.
"It can be anybody's race on the day. Schoolboys are a funny thing. I have been around the Head of the River for a long time and there is no such thing as a favourite."
Trinity head of rowing Phil Jurevich believes his crew has timed its run perfectly and could upset Christ Church.
"Christ Church are an amazing crew, really tough kids and very impressive," he said.
"We've had a couple of injuries that have sorted themselves out so we've got a bit of a surprise for them.
"It's the biggest crew we've ever had so it's got a lot of strength and there's a big head breeze predicted for Saturday so everything is sort of going the way we would want it to."
Scotch's rowing master Grant Ford said he had been buoyed by his charges finishing just a second off Christ Church at the final regatta last Saturday.
Scotch have not won the first eight since 1990 and Ford said they were desperate to break the dominance of Christ Church and Trinity, who have shared the spoils in the event every year since 2002.
"We are keen to break that, we'll be giving it our best," he said. "It would mean an enormous amount for the school."