SHE'S an honest horse, Mae West, and if you ask Hastings trainer John Bary that is the fastest way in thoroughbred racing to ensuring mistakes don't turn into failures.
From that sort of platform Bary reckons his 6-year-old mare will embark on another chapter of a promising career when she competes in the Russell Roads City of Hastings Cup at 3.23pm on Sunday.
"She's been black-type placed on a couple of occasions so she's a really good, honest mare so going on from this time last year she should be all right going through next year," says the mentor from Mutiny Rd who has horses in all races, bar one, of the eight-race New Year's Day at the Races, which is part of the national Interislander Summer Festival promotion.
It's a standard race day for Hawke's Bay Racing, which is great for the club and offers enthusiasts a great family and picnicking atmosphere.
Robert Hannam will be in Mae West's saddle from barrier six of the $20,000 Fasttrack 5k Open handicap race over 1300m on Sunday.
The 6-year-old brown mare, sired by Sir Percy (Britain) out of Wee Tipple (NZ), has earned $88,700 in 33 career starts, including five victories.
Her victories came in the 2013-15 seasons but, promisingly for Bary, Mae West came second at a rating 85 1600m race on December 10.
"She was just pipped over the line at Awapuni but she ran third in the open handicap last year and then went on to the Wellington Carnival to finish third in a black-type race," he says of a horse he took under his wing as a 2-year-old.
"She's not the biggest of mares but she's probably got the biggest heart around."
Bary points out Hugo the Boss, who he has had a few problems through no fault of the horse, won his maiden race at Tauranga last Wednesday.
"His confidence has just shot through the roof. You know, he's walking around like a cocky teenager now," he says of Hugo who is on cue for Trentham for the group one Mile on January 14 but has been rested on Sunday.
In that sort of mould, Bary suspects Mae West will hit the line hard. "In a perfect world", a top-three placing would be ideal.
Mae West has been nominated for a group 3 mile at Trentham on Saturday, January 14, a race in which she finished third last year.
"It's all about participating , doing it well and keeping up that fitness."
Bary expects a stiff challenge from the Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen co-trained Adventador, who Hayden Tinsley will ride out of barrier four.
The 8-year-old gelding, sired by Fast 'N' Famous (Australia) out of Alpine Beauty (NZ), is a group one winner, after claiming the 1200m JR & N Berkett Telegraph at Trentham on January 16.
Adventador has career earnings of $274,150 from 27 starts and seven first placings.
Lowry and Cullen have nominated him for the Telegraph again on January 21 next year.
"Of course, he's a group one winner so he's the horse to beat."
However, Adventador will give Mae West a 4kg advantage.
The other horse Bary has an eye on is O'Reilly's Choice, who was fourth in the group 2 Sacred Falls Hawke's Bay Guineas over 1400m on October 1.
In just eight career starts, O'Reilly's Choice won the NZB Insurance Pearl Series race over 800m in July for maiden 2-year-olds.
"You'll be wanting a good run from him so he can springboard into some better races over the Wellington Carnival."
The 3-year-old colt, sired by O'Reilly (NZ) out of Dorotea Dior (Australia), will line up in the 1400m Philip & Ashleigh Good Luck For The Future race at 2.46pm.
"He went to Christchurch and things just didn't go right so we're just trying to get his season on track so he'll join Hugo for a tilt at group one," says Bary, expecting O'Reilly's Choice to win on Sunday with jockey Masa Tanaka.
O'Reilly's Choice has been nominated for the Randwick Meats Levin Classic at Trentham on January 14 and the Vodafone NZ Derby at Ellerslie, Auckland, on March 4.
"Hopefully he'll bring his A game and it'll do his confidence good as well," he says, expecting a challenge again from Lowry and Cullen's My Tommy.
The pair have Powerade and Alpine Julz in the field of 10 with fellow Hastings trainer Patrick Campbell's Lady Conraad in the mix.