Starting off a 10m handicap in the Gore Cup today should not worry Phantom Grin.
The Matt Brinsdon runner will wear the No 2 saddlecloth but was rehandicapped for his win in the Wairio Cup.
Brinsdon doesn't see the rehandicap as a challenge for his 5-year-old stable star.
"He's going to have to go around a few, but I don't expect him to be that far back from 10m," Brinsdon said.
"You wouldn't get a better-mannered horse. He's going to have to do a bit of work, which he's capable of."
Phantom Grin's success, with six wins from his 31 starts and $51,985 in stakes, is vindication for Brinsdon's breeding choices, after he decided to blend Phantom Grin's mother, Phantom Menace, with the American stallion Grinfromeartoear.
"I suppose it was the time where the Butts had Mr Feelgood [by Grinfromeartoear] going around."
Phantom Menace earned eight wins over 61 starts for Brinsdon and Canterbury trainers David and Catherine Butt, but Brinsdon sees more up-side to the son, rather than the mother.
"Potential-wise, he's probably a wee bit better than his mother," Brinsdon said.
"She had a lot of natural quick speed, but he's more of a grinder, so some of those bigger races will suit him."
What those bigger races could be depends on Phantom Grin's performance today.
'The option is to go to Roxburgh [on January 4], but I'll see how he comes through the next run - if not Roxburgh, then maybe Northern Southland [on January 17]."
The country's leading reinsman Dexter Dunn will take the drive again after teaming up with Phantom Grin in the Wairio Cup - a combination that Brinsdon certainly doesn't mind.
"It's a big bonus all right."
The challenges will come from Canardly Lover, who was good poking up for third in the Wairio Cup, while Jimmy Johnston and Compton Street are both making the step up to the country cups grade for the first time.
Waimate Cup winner Better To Be Bad will start off the unruly on the 20m mark.Otago Daily TimesBy Matt Smith