Lisa Allpress is having an each-way bet on the track conditions at Ellerslie this afternoon.
The Whanganui jockey is looking for a better track for her Auckland Cup mount Pentathlon while a slow track would suit her other mount.
Allpress will partner Pentathlon's two-year-old stablemate Irish Flame in the Sistema Stakes.
"I'm being realistic and not expecting the track to suit Pentathlon," Allpress said. "But if that's the case, it's going to bring my two-year-old into contention."
However, there was some encouraging news for Allpress regarding her Cup prospects late yesterday, with the Auckland Racing Club reporting that the Ellerslie track, which had been a slow 8 yesterday morning, had improved to a dead 6 reading.
Pentathlon has a convincing record over 3200m and, with track conditions to suit, would rate highly in the $500,000 Auckland Cup.
He has been unplaced in six starts on slow tracks in New Zealand - all at 1800m or less - but three of his five wins have come on dead tracks.
Allpress, who has had two stints riding in Japan, has won three races on Pentathlon and believes the horse could measure up in good company in Japan.
"He was really flying when I rode him last season. He's a lovely horse and so nice to ride. He's not quirky at all.
"We know he stays two miles - he's so relaxed and just goes to sleep in the running.
"He will get back a little bit [in the Auckland Cup] but from the draw [eight] he should be able to pop in behind them. But he really is better on top of the ground."
Pentathlon had 60kg when making ground late for seventh in the Nathans Memorial (2200m) at Ellerslie on March 4.
Only the first two placegetters - Auckland Cup favourite Chenille and NZ St Leger contender Zacada - recorded a faster time for the last 600m in the Nathans than Pentathlon.
Pentathlon, who was at $13 in the Cup market yesterday, drops 5kg on his Nathans weight today and should be significantly fitter for the run.
The five-year-old has raced well in each of his four runs at 3200m. He won a rating 85 3200m at Trentham last term and was unlucky not to win when he finished second in the Wellington Cup, beaten a nose by Mister Impatience.
Pentathlon was at the end of his campaign when he tackled the 2016 Auckland Cup but still finished fourth and he raced creditably at the last Melbourne spring carnival. He ran third in the Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) and ran on late for ninth in the Melbourne Cup.
As a result of his Melbourne efforts, he is now likely to tackle the A$2 million Sydney Cup on April 8.
Irish Flame, a Zed gelding, earned a crack at group one company when winning the group three Phoenix Classic on a slow 8 track at New Plymouth last month, when ridden by Dylan Turner.
"I rode him in a jumpout at Hawera, before he went to New Plymouth, and I really liked him," Allpress said.
Defending champion El Soldado was scratched from the Auckland Cup yesterday, with a leg injury.
Jonathan Riddell, who has won three races on Kawi, has replaced the suspended Jason Waddell today.
Champion mare Winx has drawn barrier eight of nine in the George Ryder Stakes as she tries to extend her winning streak to 16 on Saturday.
Star sprinter Chautauqua has drawn barrier one.
- NZ Racing Desk