Leading filly Prowess will book her passage to Australia with a performance to match expectations against older opposition at Pukekohe on Saturday.
The Roger James and Robert Wellwood-prepared representative has the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2050m) on an alternative program following her trainers’ late move to sidestep the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m).
This weekend’s weight-for-age feature became the three-year-old’s target after they decided starting Prowess over the Classic distance at Te Rapa wasn’t in the filly’s best interests.
“As long as I’m happy with her work in the morning (Tuesday), she will run on Saturday,” James said.
“Since we changed tack I couldn’t be happier with her, she’s done very well.”
Prowess will be chasing her fourth win on the bounce after reeling off victories in the Gr.2 Auckland Guineas (1600m), Listed Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) and the Gr.2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m).
Should she again satisfy connections on Saturday, the daughter of Proisir will head to Sydney for the Gr.1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) on March 25.
She is currently the $5 second favourite for the Rosehill contest behind another daughter of the Rich Hill Stud stallion in Legarto at $4.50.
However, trainers Ken and Bev Kelso have indicated their Gr.1 Australian Guineas (1600m) heroine will be returning home following her spectacular Flemington victory.
Australia is also very much in the mix for Prowess’ promising stablemate Mark Twain, who finished in behind the major players in Saturday’s Derby.
The OTI Racing-owned son of Shocking ran fourth at just his fifth appearance and left James rueing the run the gelding received from gate six.
“When the draws came out I wished he had drawn 10, 11 or 12 or something like that and able to be one off,” he said.
“He got locked away on the fence and that was his undoing really.”
James has yet to decide which path will be taken with Mark Twain, who had won at New Plymouth and Hastings prior to last Saturday.
“I will have a talk with the owners and hatch a plan from there, I don’t know if he would even get in the ATC Derby (Gr.1, 2400m),” he said.
“There are a few options for him and he appears to have come through the race very well.”
Meanwhile, the Cambridge Stud-bred and raced Pinarello will kick off his autumn campaign at Pukekohe on Saturday.
“He will run in the 1400m sprint and he is in grand order. We will make a plan for him after that,” James said.
The Tavistock four-year-old won last season’s Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) before a three-start spring campaign in Sydney where his best effort was a fifth placing in the Gr.3 Craven Plate (1800m) at Randwick.