Outstanding juveniles Sassy 'N' Smart, Heroic Valour, Xiong Feng and Tennessee put their claim in for Saturday's $200,000 Sistema Diamond Stakes with excellent gallops at Ellerslie yesterday morning.
The two pairs of stablemates hit out strongly in their final serious workouts for the season's first group one 2-year-old event.
Sassy 'N' Smart and Heroic Valour were floated up from Matamata for their first important look at Ellerslie, almost always a critical ingredient of a 2-year-old victory on a major Auckland raceday.
Sassy 'N' Smart was ridden by Matt Cameron and Jonathan Riddell made the trip north from Palmerston North to ride Heroic Valour, who he will partner in Saturday's big race.
The pair stayed together throughout 1000m with Heroic Valour, on the inside, having a good look at the winning post as he finished his work.
Cameron was delighted with Sassy 'N' Smart's gallop and Riddell seemed equally pleased. "I gave her a click up about seven strides out and she picked up well," said Cameron.
Co-trainer Jamie Richards said Riddell had been engaged because of Heroic Valour's greenness.
"He can be difficult and we wanted a rider that is strong in both hands. Jonathan fits that bill."
Timing was difficult because the markers were out very wide on the course proper and a guesstimate of the accurate starting point for each distance was made. Clocking each gallop and comparing was the only accurate measure.
On a dead track after 10mm of overnight irrigation, Sassy 'N' Smart and Heroic Valour ran the final 800m in 47.1, exactly the same time clocked by Xiong Feng and Tennessee.
Xiong Feng looks fit and hard and particularly bright after freshening since his victory in the Karaka Million. He was strong at the end of his work.
The best time -- 46.1 -- was recorded by Southern sprinting mare Soubrettes, working with Palace Rock. Both worked in great style for varying engagements on Saturday. Soubrettes runs in the $100,000 Westbury Classic and Palace Rock on the undercard.
Hunapo and Hypervelocity worked well over 1000m, but were not timed and Consensus, a runner in the Bonecrusher Stakes, was keen through 1200m in 1.14.