Leading filly Prowess will kick start her summer preparation when she steps out in a hot trial at Matamata on Friday.
She will add momentum to a new campaign when she runs over 1000m against a talented line-up that includes Group One winners Levante and Maven Belle and well-performed sprinters Babylon Berlin, Bonny Lass and Letzbeglam.
Prowess has won two of her four starts and hasn’t been seen since she finished a close third behind Pier in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton.
“She spelled well and is in really nice order and we’ll have a better idea of exactly where we’re at after the trial, but we’re very happy with her,” said Robert Wellwood, who prepares the daughter of Proisir with Roger James.
The main short-term aim for Prowess is the Listed Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Pukekohe on January 21 with a likely lead-up outing in the Gr.2 Jamieson Park Auckland Guineas (1600m) at Te Rapa on New Year’s Day.
“At this stage, that is pencilled in although there are other three-year-old options for her,” Wellwood said.
“We’ll see how she trials and pulls up and go from there, but the Guineas is probably the preferred option before the Million.”
As for longer-term targets, the Gr.2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 11 shapes as the deciding contest for the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) nominated Prowess.
“We certainly think she will go further and after the Million the obvious option is the 2000m of the Classic,” Wellwood said.
“From there, we’re going to know where we head and if she will see out a mile and a-half in the Oaks or not.
“She was strong in the last 200m of the 2000 Guineas and that suggested the further the better. She is such a lovely, relaxed and easy-going filly so we can’t see it being any problem.”
The stable will be lightly represented in the early part of the festive period with Deep Beauty in Friday’s Matamata Veterinary Services Handicap (1400m) and Time And Again in the Matamata Function Centre Maiden (1600m).
Apprentice Tayla Mitchell will partner Deep Beauty, who posted consecutive runner-up finishes before he was undone by the soft ground last time out at Te Rapa.
“He always puts in a good performance on a decent track so we’re hoping any rain stays away and he’ll go another good race,” Wellwood said.
To be ridden by Warren Kennedy, Time And Again had also run consecutive placings before she struggled on a heavy surface earlier this month at New Plymouth.
Stablemate and recent trial winner Mark Twain will head to Saturday’s Taranaki meeting where the Shocking three-year-old should appreciate a step up in trip on Saturday in the Return 2 Earth Maiden (1600m).
Promising Jakkalberry mare Endean Affair may be the stable’s only representative at Pukekohe on Boxing Day with a decision yet to be made whether multiple stakes winner Cheaperthandivorce takes her place in the Gr.1 Cambridge Stud Zabeel Stakes (2000m).
Endean Affair has won twice from nine appearances, including a last-start success at Ruakaka, and Ashvin Goindasamy will be aboard the four-year-old in the Stella Artois Championship Final (1500m).
“She’s a nice mare and is going well. The 1500m is short of her best, but she can run well from a reasonable draw,” Wellwood said.