Leading three-year-old Pier can book his passage to Australia with a bold resuming performance at Pukekohe on Saturday.
The gifted son of Proisir will step out in the Gr.3 Cambridge Stud Almanzor Trophy (1200m) and while victory is not imperative to confirm travel plans, he is expected to give a forward account of himself.
Pier hasn’t raced since he overcame a wide run to triumph in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November and will strip fit enough on his return to go close to adding to his record of three wins from four appearances.
“He had four weeks in the paddock and then he spent two weeks on the water treadmill at Lyndhurst Farm and he’s been back here for six weeks,” said Darryn Weatherly, who trains the gelding with daughter Briar.
“He has developed and this is a stepping-stone for him and he’s not fully tuned up. He’s about 10kg over the weight he was when he won the Guineas, but I am really happy with him.
“We have got plans to take him to Sydney and he hasn’t been right-handed before, hence the reason we’re going to Pukekohe.”
To be ridden by Weatherley’s son Sam, Pier will carry 60kg under the set weights and penalties conditions of the Almanzor Trophy.
“He’s got topweight, but if he’s thereabouts and close enough to Maven Belle at the finish or got his head in front he will be on the plane to Sydney,” Weatherley said.
Contrary to earlier suggestions, Pier will be returning to New Zealand after his Australian venture which will open at Rosehill in the Gr.2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) on February 18.
“All going well, there’s the Randwick Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m) and then the Rosehill Guineas (Gr.1, 2000m). We’ll take it one race at a time and if he’s stepping up we’ll stay.
“We will be taking him over there ourselves and bring him home afterwards for a spell in the winter and attack again in the spring.”
Weatherley bred and races Pier with his wife Lou and close friend Barry Wright while prominent Australian owner Ozzie Kheir purchased a 25 percent share in the horse prior to his three-year-old debut in September.
The stable will also be chasing black type at Pukekohe with Pier’s older half-sister Maria Farina, with the Contributer mare to contest the Gr.3 Brighthill Farm Yearlings Concorde Handicap (1200m).
“She’s got a nice alley and will be a worthy chance with a lightweight if things go her way,” Weatherley said.
To be ridden by Jake Bayliss, Maria Farina has won three of her 15 starts and finished sixth over this course and distance on Boxing Day after suffering an interrupted run.
Be A Roca is also a three-time winner following the daughter of El Roca’s most recent success at Te Rapa on New Year’s Day, but she will face a far sterner test in the Gr.2 Westbury Classic (1400m).
“She’s in the fillies and mares’ 1400m and might be outclassed looking at the field, but she did win well last time out and her sectionals were really good,” Weatherley said.