Premiership leaders Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman will be juggling their classic contenders over the next fortnight.
The Cambridge training partnership still has five horses in contention for the $1 million New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie on March 4 and is likely to have at least two runners in the $300,000 New Zealand Oaks at Trentham a fortnight later.
Eight horses are at $12 or shorter in the Derby market with three of those - Camino Rocoso ($7), Highlad ($10) and Jon Snow ($12) - in the Baker and Forsman team, while their stablemates Mongolian Wolf ($26) and Mongolian Legend ($51) are also in the mix.
Highlad will contest Saturday's Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa. The High Chaparral gelding was having his first start for three months and carrying 57kg when third in a rating 75 1600m at Tauranga on January 20.
He will be fitter for his first-up run though Baker considers the horse could need the race again when he steps up in distance this week.
Highlad did not race as a two-year-old but earned a trip to the Melbourne spring carnival after winning his first two starts, including the Wanganui Guineas.
He finished third in a listed 1800m at Flemington at his Australian debut, after working hard from an outside barrier, but was hampered by wide barriers again at his next two starts, including when eighth in the Victoria Derby.
He was last, in a 16-horse field, at the 800m in the Derby and 14th with 400m to run and only third placegetter Inference recorded a faster time for the last 800m.
Matt Cameron has ridden Highlad in each of his New Zealand starts and has the mount again on Saturday, in a field headed by Levin Classic winner Hall Of Fame.
There is also a good chance that Highlad, who can handle wet tracks, will return to Australia in the autumn, for a tilt at the Australian Derby.
Jon Snow is likely to tackle the $400,000 weight-for-age Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on Saturday week, when his rivals would include another leading Derby hope in Savile Row.
Jon Snow, an Iffraaj colt, has won just once from eight attempts but has earned $80,000 in stakes.
"It has taken a while for the penny to drop with him but he has been only half a neck from the winner in his last three starts," Baker said.
Jon Snow fought strongly when beaten a nose and a head, behind Volpe Veloce and Heroic Valour, in the Karaka 3yo Mile at Ellerslie last Sunday and before that had been beaten by a nose and a long head in the group one Levin Classic and by a head and a long head in the Great Northern Guineas.
Mongolian Legend, a Fastnet Rock colt, has had only four starts but has impressed his trainers and will probably tackle a rating 65 2100m at Te Rapa on Saturday week.
Shocking gelding Camino Rocoso was shortened to second favourite for the Derby, behind Sacred Elixir, after a dominant win in a special conditions 1600m at the Karaka Million meeting and is expected to tackle the Avondale Guineas (2000m) at Ellerslie on February 18.
Mongolian Wolf has kept his Derby hopes alive by beating older horses, in rating 65 and rating 75 company, at his two starts in a new campaign.
Mongolian Wolf and Mongolian Legend race in the same colours as the stable's dual Derby winner Mongolian Khan.
The Oaks contenders Nicoletta and Bonneval will tackle the Sir Tristram Classic at Te Rapa on Saturday week after finishing first and third respectively in the Desert Gold Stakes at Trentham last weekend.
Stablemate and Victoria Oaks placegetter Eleonora remains on track for the Australian Oaks.
- NZ Racing Desk