Roger James believes he has ticked all the boxes with his multiple Group One winner Prowess ahead of the Gr.1 Champions Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday.
“It is her biggest test to date without a doubt, but we have ticked the boxes,” James, who trains in partnership with Robert Wellwood, told TAB NZ.
“She has got fresh legs, it is only third up for her – tick; it is 2000m – another tick; she is in grand order - another tick; and she is well trained – that must be four ticks.”
The four-year-old mare had an interrupted start to her spring preparation which forced her to miss the Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley last month, but she earned a consolation prize with victory in the Gr.2 Crystal Mile (1600m) on the undercard, giving James his third win in the race.
“She left home and I was pretty confident she would be hard to beat. I always thought she would be better with the run under her belt and I still stick with that,” James said.
James arrived back in Melbourne last week and was rapt with Prowess’ condition ahead of the Champions Stakes, with the daughter of Proisir continuing to please him with her work this week.
“I was really happy when I got here on Friday night, only having raced a week earlier she looked tremendous,” he said.
“She did a nice piece of work on Saturday and an even bigger piece of work on Tuesday, and I think she is pretty much where we want her now.”
Prowess will be ridden by Melbourne Cup-winning hoop Mark Zahra out of gate four on Saturday.
“His ride in the Cup was gold and his ride on her was gold as well (in the Crystal Mile). I am hoping I am still saying that on Saturday night, but he just makes good decisions,” James said.
“The field is made up to be a very good field, but we are up to the challenge I think.”
Prowess will return to New Zealand next week in preparation for an autumn campaign, with Saturday’s run dictating what path she takes.
“She will be home in the paddock come Wednesday and she will probably have two weeks off and in that time we would have planned what we are going to do in the autumn,” James said.