Until a recent barrier trial, Chris Waller found it hard to assess new stable acquisition Balavan.
But the trainer was so pleased by what he saw that he elected to withdraw the former Victorian sprinter from a benchmark race at Canterbury on Saturday to target the Listed Carrington Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill today.
Balavan ran third in his trial on December 14 and returns to the scene of his last win more than a year ago when he contests today's feature sprint at Rosehill.
"He is a nice horse and doesn't show much on the track in the mornings, but in his trial he did," Waller said. "He had a lot of weight [61kg] on Saturday, so I decided to keep him for the Carrington.
"It's a good race and won't be easy but he will take his chance."
The 7-year-old won his first five starts in the care of Tony Vasil at Caulfield and his most recent victory was over 1200m at Rosehill in August 2011.
Two starts earlier he won a class Six at the Sunshine Coast in which subsequent group one winner Solzhenitsyn finished fourth.
"He races well this way round and that's why he's here," Waller said.
Injury has restricted Balavan's career to 15 starts of which he has won seven. There are eight acceptors for the Carrington, including unbeaten bush sprinter Maroney Avenue.
Maroney Avenue has won all his six starts and his Scone-based trainer Rodney Northam's decision to test him in stakes company is based on a lack of suitable restricted races in the coming weeks.
Three-year-old filly No Looking Back resumes in the Carrington with her trainer Gai Waterhouse eyeing a start in the Magic Millions Guineas if she performs well.
No Looking back was first past the post in the Magic Millions Classic but lost on protest to stablemate Driefontein.
She was the $2.80 Carrington favourite with the TAB yesterday ahead of Maroney Avenue at $3.60 while Balavan was a $15 chance.
Meanwhile, retirement is a serious option for Alcopop, the group one winner who ran the race of his life in the Hong Kong Cup.
Weighing up Alcopop's future as the veteran completes quarantine after a sterling third in the Hong Kong Cup, trainer Jake Stephens said it was possible the Mackinnon Stakes winner had run his last race.
"It might be good to let him go out on a high, rather than keep him running around," said Stephens.
"We don't want to do too much with him. He is 8 years old and we want to make sure he's got a good quality of life afterwards. We'll play it as it comes and see what happens."
Alcopop remains burdened by the possibility that the leg he fractured last year still needs to be monitored closely.