Top staying prospect Arby has taken no harm from a last start defeat in trying conditions at Pukekohe Park.
The Proisir three-year-old finished fifth in the Gr.3 Championship Stakes (2100m) on a Heavy 10 track after impressively winning the Gr.3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) on a better surface at his previous appearance at Awapuni.
Despite the most recent hiccup in his form line, Arby remains in contention for a trip to Brisbane for the Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on May 27.
“The owners are really keen to have a crack and he’s a stayer who will eat the ground up on a good track,” said Darryn Weatherley, who trains the gelding with daughter Briar.
“If it looks like he’s going to get a run he’ll be on the plane.”
Weatherley was encouraged by post-race Championship Stakes comments from son Sam, Arby’s regular rider.
“I do know that he’s 10 lengths better on better ground, he’s such a big boy and Sam said he never travelled from go to whoa and floundered all the way and said don’t condemn the horse,” Weatherley said.
“He came through his last run without any problem. He’s been working well and it was a shame we didn’t get a fair track at Pukekohe.
“He’s as bright as a button and we took him back to the track for a trot and canter and he was towing us around and is eating us out of house and home like a teenager.”
Arby is raced by the Clothier family, who bred the horse and also own his well-performed stablemate Ess Vee Are.
The Shocking four-year-old won three times during his last preparation, including last month’s Listed New Zealand St Leger (2600m), after which he went to the paddock.
“He’ll come back on June 1 and look forward to a spring campaign and the way he won the St Leger was really encouraging for the future,” Weatherley said.
“Melbourne is on the cards and we could take him over there and look at some of those country cups and see how far we get.”
Travel plans are also on the radar for the stable’s Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) hero Pier, who was spelled after he pulled a muscle when unplaced in February’s Gr.2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill.
“We may look at the Foxbridge Plate (Gr.2, 1200m) and go from there, my co-owner Ozzie Kheir is really keen to get us to Melbourne,” Weatherley said.
“The horse will tell us where we are going, you can’t go over to Australia unless they’re at the top of their game and if we don’t for any reason go to Melbourne then he’ll be at Hastings for the Triple Crown.”
Weatherley is also rapt to be welcoming the talented Mali Ston back into the stable.
“We got some really good news with him this week. He broke a hind pedal bone and had 12 months off and we looked after him and he was x-rayed on Tuesday,” he said.
“We got the all clear to get the saddle back on him and he’s going to be a nice one to have back in the team.”
Mali Ston has won five of his nine starts, including the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) and ran third in the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile before he was side-lined.