Rockland could be rewarded with a trip to Trentham should he bounce back to winning form at Riccarton on Saturday.
Riccarton trainer Terri Rae will produce Snitzel six-year-old Rockland in the Mick And Melba Murfitt Memorial (1100m), hoping for a return to his best form to justify a tilt at next month's Listed Lightning Handicap (1200m) at Trentham.
"If he was to go well, we'd definitely give thought to the Lightning Handicap," Rae said.
"We'll get this one out of the way first before we make any plans because things haven't really gone to plan with his last few races. He hasn't had a lot of luck since running second in the Pegasus Stakes first-up."
A winner of five of his 18 starts, Rockland finished second in the Listed Pegasus Stakes (1000m) at Riccarton last November, edging out subsequent Gr.3 Stewards Handicap (1200m) winner Buoyant.
But it hasn't been plain sailing with Rockland since, though Rae found much to be heartened about in his last-start fifth in the open sprint at Wingatui last Saturday..
"He's been quite slow away and he just needed to get away well last week, which he did but I would have been quite happy with him to lead up," Rae said.
"With that riderless horse, it became a bit stop-start. He was making good ground at the finish but with a bit of traffic in front of him. He hasn't always been getting luck just because he's been slow away."
The Bruce and Maureen Harvey-raced Rockland is reunited with jockey Lisa Allpress on Saturday, the Wanganui hoop having ridden the horse on five previous occasions for two wins.
"It's a good distance and Lisa gets on pretty good with him and always gets him out and going. I'm expecting a pretty good showing from him. Better track and Lisa back on, I expect him to go pretty close."
Rae has four other runners at Riccarton: Za Man, Secretxpress, Sir Albert and Harbourside.
Zacinto two-year-old Za Man makes his debut after an encouraging trials second placing at Te Awamutu in December when prepared by co-owner Ben Foote.
"He's not overly big but he's a really nice horse and he trialled up a pretty highly-rated horse. He's arrived down here as a real professional and ready to go," Rae said.
She suggested the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m) at Wingatui on March 4 looked an appealing option for first-up winner Secretxpress if she can race well from a wide draw this weekend.
"It's a really tricky gate but it would be nice to give her a run going into that fillies race. She had a chip taken out of her fetlock last year but she's going along nicely,” she said.
Rae said she had a lot of time for three-year-old Savabeel first starter Sir Albert in the 1400m maiden, while five-win sprinter Harbourside rounds out her day.
"Harbourside likes rain-affected ground and he's pretty honest,” she said. “If he can get cover and get clear room in the straight, he's a chance too."