Top filly Prowess has returned to Roger James and Robert Wellwood’s Cambridge stable to begin her build-up toward another major age group target.
The daughter of Proisir has won two of her four starts and showed her quality at Riccarton where she finished a close third behind Pier in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m).
“She did 10 days on the water treadmill and has been back here for a week now. She came through the race well and we tinkered with the idea of backing her up (in the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas, 1600m),” Wellwood said.
“She’s a big, immature filly and will only do better with time so we decided against that and she spelled well and we’re really happy with her.”
The Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Pukekohe on January 21 will be Prowess’ next feature assignment.
“We’ve got a ring around the Classic and we haven’t firmed anything up yet, but she will certainly have one run before that,” Wellwood said.
Prowess was a $230,000 purchase out of Hallmark Stud’s 2021 draft at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale and inspections will soon begin for 2023 prospects at Karaka.
“We don’t normally start until the New Year so hopefully there’s a few more races to win before we start that,” Wellwood said.
“A number of our yearlings are looking really good so it’s exciting and I hope we can kick a few goals to encourage people to invest in some more nice horses.”
James and Wellwood were major buyers earlier this year, headlined by the $900,000 they outlaid for a colt by The Autumn Sun from Landsdowne Park’s consignment.
He is a half-brother to the former NZB Filly of the Year and multiple Group winner Dijon Bleu.
“He jumped out this morning and really impressed,” Wellwood said. “He will trial later in the month and then we’ll make a plan whether he continues on to the races or has a little bit of time off, but we’re very happy with him at this stage.”
The stable’s immediate focus will be at Te Rapa on Saturday with feature race contenders Cheaperthandivorce in the Gr.2 Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m) and Dionysus in the Gr.3 Skycity Hamilton Waikato Cup (2400m).
“Cheaperthandivorce has had a few niggles that we do think we’re through, but realistically she’s best over 2000m plus, which we haven’t got to yet,” Wellwood said.
“Obviously, this Saturday is a mile and if she goes a bold one then we’ll be looking to step her up over the Christmas period.”
Cheaperthandivorce showed her middle-distance quality 12 months ago when she triumphed in the Waikato Cup and last-start winner Dionysus will shoulder the responsibility of defending the stable’s title.
“He’s going really well and it’s a big step up, but I don’t think he looks out of place,” Wellwood said. “He gets in with a nice weight and we certainly think he can be right there or thereabouts.
“He is nominated for the Wellington Cup (Gr.3, 3200m) and his owner Ron Dixon is from Wellington so it would be lovely to think that we could go to something like that.
“Whether he is a two-mile horse or not I’m not sure, but we’re going to find out a lot more and we’ll just take it race by race.”