Exhilarating but terrifying, that's how Riccarton trainer Anna Furlong describes the build-up to Saturday's Gr.1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m), where she and training partner Shane Kennedy will produce the trio of Blue Solitaire, Perfectly Suited and Kikimora.
Furlong concedes she may never again get the opportunity to saddle three runners in a Group One race and while she's excited by the prospect of producing one-third of the nine-horse Classic field, she admits it's also a daunting challenge.
"To have one in a Group One race is great but to have three, it's unbelievable, though I can't wait for Saturday to be over if I'm honest," Furlong said as she watched the trio have their final exercise at Riccarton on Friday morning.
"To get three there sound is something we're really proud of. This may never happen again. Everyone is pretty pumped. The owners have been really supportive. It's been pretty stressful though. It's been horrific."
The three fillies worked together on the course proper at Riccarton on Tuesday morning, delighting Furlong with their main gallop ahead of three-quarter pace work on Thursday morning.
"It was great to be able to work them all together and they worked super. They all needed a good hit-out, especially Kikimora. It's been a little bit of time between runs for her, so she needed a good run along,” she said.
"We've got them as good as we can have them. They are all bright and happy. We're expecting solid runs from all of them. There's only nine in it, so a good, compact field and they should all get their chance."
Furlong was leaning toward Blue Solitaire as the stable's best chance of testing Guineas hot favourite Legarto, taking a lot of encouragement from her fifth placing in the Gr.3 War Decree Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton last start.
"We feel like she probably should have run into the minors (placings),” Furlong said. “She was held up when she didn't need to be held up. We were really happy and she's improved again since and drawn well (in barrier three).
"Perfectly Suited probably hasn't had the best preparation. She'll go to the paddock after Saturday but we're getting her to this race in the best condition we can. It was a good run at Ashburton last time and we're just putting the blinkers on to get her to travel up better.
"The penny hasn't really dropped with Kikimora yet. She just doesn't drop her head and let down up the straight but it will come together. She'll be a nice horse next year but she's been so consistent and she'll go a good race."
TAB bookmakers have Perfectly Suited as a $21 chance, with Blue Solitaire and Kikimora both at $31 in a market dominated by the Ken and Bev Kelso-trained Legarto at $1.40.
Furlong said the three fillies would spell after Saturday with a view to giving them a break from racing before attacking summer and autumn three-year-old features.
"Some will stay out longer than others. Early next year, there's good three-year-old racing which we can target. We'll just reassess after Saturday and how they go during their breaks."
The Kennedy-Furlong stable has enjoyed a bumper New Zealand Cup carnival, winning three races on the first day with the hugely-impressive Elizabeth Rose, Betty Spaghetti and Second Thought, who backs up from her first day win in Saturday's Avon City Ford Premier (2500m).
"We just need to see if she's going to get the trip. Drawn wide (in barrier 20) is probably not the worst thing because we'd rather see her settle back and bide her time to help her get the distance," said Furlong, who celebrated her birthday on Wednesday with a brace of Riccarton wins.
"It's been a Cup week that has exceeded our expectations. The horses have come out and done their job."
The stable's other runners on Saturday are Ugo and Kudos de Sothys.
Meanwhile, Furlong reported that Elizabeth Rose had gone to the spelling paddock ahead of a summer campaign that could see her target February's Listed Dunedin Cup (2400m) at Wingatui.