Trainer Tony Pike hasn't given up on sneaking exciting filly Provocative into the Queensland Oaks even after an unplaced run at Te Rapa on Saturday.
The long-striding daughter of Zabeel was one of the favourites for the New Zealand Derby in March until she was ruled out late by injury, which has forced Pike to eye group one glory in Queensland.
The only problem is, as the veteran of just five starts, Provocative's $19,400 stake earnings aren't anywhere near enough to get her a start in the A$500,000 Oaks, which returns to Eagle Farm on June 4.
Pike, and punters who backed her into favouritism, were hoping Provocative could remedy that problem at Te Rapa but a wide draw saw her settle last and she was never a winning chance, even though she made up a dozen lengths to finish fourth.
"The draw really didn't help, nor did the way the race panned out," said Pike.
"But we definitely haven't given up on the Oaks. I'd love to get her into it."
So Pike is eyeing a A$20,000 three-year-old race at Ipswich tomorrow week, victory in which he hopes will be enough to get Provocative into the Oaks.
"I think $30,000 in stakes might do the job so it is definitely still her aim," says the Cambridge trainer.
"She flies out on Sunday and if something did go wrong and we couldn't make the Oaks we could potentially even look at the Derby [a week later] as a back-up plan."
Pike already has New Zealand Derby winner Rangipo in Queensland and he will resume in the A$125,000 Fred Best Classic at Doomben on Saturday week on his was to the Queensland Guineas.
He also holds a nomination for the Stradbroke but taking on the older horses is becoming increasingly unlikely.
And the stable's flagship sprinter Sacred Star will start the stable assault this Saturday in the A$500,000 BTC Cup at Doomben on Saturday.
"He is going really well but it looking like a hot field so it should tell us where we are at with him."
While Provocative is still on the Oaks path, the connections of fellow high-class New Zealand filly Serious Satire have gone cold on a winter trip to Brisbane for the filly.
Trainer Stephen Marsh had given serious thought to the Queensland carnival for the David Paykel-bred and owned three-year-old but will now wait for the spring to test her in Australia.
"I don't think we'll be going and she'll have another race here in a Rating 75 mile at Te Rapa on the [May] 21st before we put her out for another little spell," he said.
"We'll bring her back after that and ideally we will look at the Melbourne spring carnival with her and Sofia Rosa."
Serious Satire won two of her first three starts, including the group three Gold Trail Stakes, before she was given a break after jarring up when unplaced in the group two James & Annie Sarten Memorial.
Two trials fitted her for a recent return to racing in the group three Cambridge Breeders' Stakes, but she was unplaced after being hampered at the start and checked in the straight.
"She didn't have any lucky at all, but she's come through the race well," Marsh said.
- additional reporting NZ Racing Desk