Cambridge trainer Tony Pike is hoping progressive sprinter Not Guilty can round out an already pleasing four-year-old campaign with stakes success at Hastings on Saturday.
The Not A Single Doubt mare has had five starts this term for three wins and two placings, last start making a good fist of her first attempt in stakes company when she finished third in the Listed Lightning Handicap (1200m) at Trentham.
Pike describes her campaign as a transition preparation where Not Guilty has gone from a novice galloper to one who can hold her own in top company, and he believes the best of her is yet to come.
"She's come a long way this preparation. She's gone from a one-win filly right up to stakes class and she's probably only just maturing now," Pike said.
"She'll have a nice break after Saturday and come back in the spring. She should be in for a good season back next time a year older."
Pike was delighted with Not Guilty's Lightning placing on a soft 7 track at Trentham and was looking forward to producing her on better conditions in the Listed Power Turf Sprint (1200m) at Hastings, where the track was rated a Good 4 on Friday morning.
"She's really well. She had four days in the paddock after Trentham and she's held her weight and condition really well," he said.
"She performed well in her first run in stakes company. The track was wet enough for her that day; she just didn't quicken as well on the softer track as she had been on the firmer tracks coming through the grades.
"Hopefully the weather holds in Hawke's Bay and if they can produce a good surface, she's in good form and gets in the minimum so she should be a good winning chance."
TAB bookmakers have installed Not Guilty as a shortening $3 favourite for the sprint as she seeks to add to her four wins from 11 starts.
Regular rider Michael McNab will jump Not Guilty from barrier five.
"She's a filly that generally puts herself thereabouts on speed so from a good draw, she's going to position up nice and handy. On a good surface from the minimum, I'd expect her to go pretty close," said Pike, adding that Not Guilty was a pleasure to train.
"She doesn't need a lot of work. She's a filly that we try and keep as fresh as we can. She had a good hitout over half a mile on Tuesday morning. She worked extremely well. She's deep into her preparation now so she's pretty fit and she doesn't need to do a lot between races."
Pike, who enjoyed success with Mr Blue Sky and Whiskey Neat at Awapuni on Friday to take his season tally to 33 wins, also has Agera, Good Time Garry, Full Moon Fever, He's Beset and Roconono at Hastings, while Cannon Hill and Rudyard are slated to run at the Te Rapa meeting the same day.