There are a million reasons why St Jean won't be a race short when he tackles the $100,000 Avondale Cup at Ellerslie on Saturday.
The Ruakaka galloper, who has not raced since January 1, will get a crack at a $1 million bonus if he can win the group two feature.
St Jean took the first leg of the Ellerslie Stayers' Triple Crown when successful in the City Of Auckland Cup (2400m) at his last start, with the 3200m Auckland Cup on March 11 completing the series.
The bonus will be paid to any horse who can win all three races in the same year.
"You don't get that opportunity very often," St Jean's trainer, Donna Logan, said.
St Jean paid $46.90 when taking the City Of Auckland Cup in a blanket finish - with less than half a length covering the first four placegetters - but it would be unwise to dismiss his chances of another win.
He faces a tougher task at the weights this week but should also be a fitter horse.
The seven-year-old, who has been trained in three countries, was having his first race for more than two years when he resumed on November 1 and the City Of Auckland Cup was just his third run in the campaign.
An entire by Teofilo, also the sire of Kermadec and Palentino, St Jean was a maiden winner in Ireland before being bought at auction, for 65,000 guineas ($118,650), by an Australian syndicate.
St Jean raced well for Warrnambool trainer Aaron Purcell and had four wins and a second from eight starts in Australia, before going amiss in 2014, when being aimed at the Caulfield Cup.
He is still owned in Australia but was transferred to Logan and Chris Gibbs last year.
St Jean, who has had just 18 starts, won over 2000m at Caulfield and over 2400m at Sandown but was also sharp enough to win an open mile at Moonee Valley at his last Australian start.
"He's a very smart horse," Logan said. "His work has been super and we are very happy with him. He's very clean-winded and keeps himself fit and is an absolute gentleman to deal with."
Johnathan Parkes rode St Jean in the City Of Auckland Cup and sticks with the horse this weekend.
Chenille, Marciano and Megablast will be among the form rivals for St Jean, though Chenille and Megablast have drawn wide, while Five To Midnight, Jacksstar and Sampson will spearhead a strong central districts challenge.
Logan and Gibbs made a big impact at Te Rapa this month, taking the Waikato Guineas with Wyndspelle and the Herbie Dyke Stakes with Volkstok'n'barrell and St Jean will not be their only hope this weekend.
Wyndspelle and stablemate Romancer tackle the Avondale Guineas, with Tavidream, Floating Heart and Comin'through completing the Ellerslie team.
The stable will also have two runners at New Plymouth, including leading Taranaki Cup contender All Roads.
Wyndspelle has done well since his decisive Te Rapa win. "He's super," Logan said.
Romancer will have to overcome a wide barrier but finished a creditable fifth in the Waikato Guineas, after losing a front plate in the running and pricking himself with the tole clip on a hind plate.
Tavistock three-year-old Tavidream tackles a rating 65 1500m after recording a win and two seconds from his first three starts. "He's still got some maturing to do, but we rate him," Logan said.
Likely Avondale Guineas favourite Sacred Elixir drew 12 but is likely to come into 10 while the Cambridge stablemates Highlad, Mongolian Wolf and Camino Rocoso all drew well. Sacred Elixir will race in side winkers and Highlad will race without blinkers.
The Te Akau team will also have three runners in the Guineas, including Waikato Guineas runner-up Shocking Luck, who is expected to be a late entry for the Derby if he races well again.
The first four placegetters in the Guineas will be exempt from the Derby ballot, if entered, while Excalibur will complete his Derby preparation in the rating 65 2100m at Ellerslie.
- NZ Racing Desk