Co-trainer Steve Autridge is supremely confident missing a lead-up race will not hamper unbeaten Sassy 'N' Smart in tomorrow's $100,000 Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders Stakes.
Sassy 'N' Smart won both her South Island starts in the spring and the stable was happy to give the classy filly just one lead-up into tomorrow's race, but she missed that race.
"When she didn't start we took her to the Matamata barrier trials and she won nicely," says Autridge.
Sassy 'N' Smart has had issues with the starting gates, but did everything right at the trials.
"She was rank away in both Riccarton starts, but she jumped out and cruised at the trials. You had to be over the moon with her effort there."
The negative around Sassy 'N' Smart is the outside barrier of the 10 runners.
"It's not ideal, but I've won the race with Catamaca from No 16 of 16 runners, although they were different types of fillies. She will have to go forward and hope she can get some cover. Matty [Cameron] is a freak at getting them out of the gates, so she should be okay."
The danger is likely to be South Islander What Choux Want, who chased Sassy 'N' Smart home in both Riccarton victories. What Choux Want turned in a fine luckless run at Ellerslie in her northern debut and was far from disgraced with her fifth in the Karaka Million. The No 2 barrier looks ideal.
O'Rachael was badly hampered by a barrier being slow to open when she was second on debut then she out-bobbed talented Sacred Elixir at Ellerslie. She was narrowly beaten at Te Rapa last start and gave the impression the dead rating track may not have been helpful.
She has plenty of heart and if the final 150m comes down to ticker she will be well suited.
The emerging talent is impressive in the final half dozen, even if they are all still maidens. It's likely the experience of the first four favourites may be a touch too strong for the opposition.
Small numbers in a race are a nightmare for racing clubs regarding turnovers, but they are not necessarily a negative for race watchers.
Only five horses accepted for the $50,000 Reid & Harrison Slipper, but it should be the most exciting race on the programme. Gasoline, Mongolian Falcon and Heroic Valour are all capable of ending the season as the leading male juvenile.
Gasoline looks the most experienced of the trio with a stylish on-pace win at Ellerslie last start.
Mongolian Falcon was very rank in his debut third at Ellerslie then subsequently led throughout to win on this track, even though still looking on the green side.
Heroic Valour did a little wrong on debut at Trentham, but his class carried him through. Co-trainer Steve Autridge has huge belief in the colt.
"He can do a few things wrong because of inexperience. If he does that we're in trouble, if he doesn't, the others are in trouble."
?The Baker/Forsman stable is sure Horse Of The Year Mongolian Khan will be short of full fitness for his resuming run in tomorrow's A$600,000 Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick.
But they expect stablemate Turn Me Loose to figure in the A$500,000 Futurity Stakes at Caulfield.
There has been a lot of speculation around the resuming run of Mongolian Khan, but the Cambridge stable has brought the Derby/Caulfield Cup winner along steadily rather than with a rush.
Mongolian Khan was a winner at 1600m as a 3-year-old last season, but he has since had a full campaign as a 2400m horse and he should now find that distance a touch short.
"The race should be too sharp for him," says Baker.
With Opie Bosson preferring to ride Turn Me Loose in Melbourne, Mongolian Khan will be a one-off for Australian jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who rode the stallion in work early this week.
"He's going to improve a lot with this run and he feels very good in his action," McEvoy said.
Overdue: Aotearower, R1 Matamata: Freshened since having no luck at Trentham in January. Better than overall form suggests and will be difficult to keep out here.
Needs a break: The Justice League, R3, Matamata: Can find trouble in his races, but has plenty of ability. Small field here should help.
Heading up: Mark Quant, R2, Matamata: Looked good winner here last start. This is tougher, but she should cope.