It's going to be a case of more of the same this time in for New Zealand's champion sprinter Start Wondering.
He was a dominant winner of the title following his Group One victories in last season's Railway Stakes (1200m) and the NRM Sprint (1400m). He was narrowly denied a clean sweep of the short course majors when runner-up in the Telegraph (1200m).
Start Wondering's co-trainer Evan Rayner, who prepares the seven-year-old with his daughter J. J. from their Whanganui base, said those three prestige events would again be the focus of the upcoming campaign.
"He's been back in work a bit over four weeks and he had his first quiet run up the straight last week. He looks great and we're very happy with him."
The winner of 10 of his 21 starts, Start Wondering opened his last preparation with victory in the Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint (1200m) and the November event may again be his starting point.
"We had to go up to Te Rapa to find a suitable race and we'll probably go up there this time," Rayner said.
The stable is also looking forward to the spring returns of the promising gallopers Loch Ness and Regal Winks.
"We're just waiting for the right race for Loch Ness," Rayner said. "Regal Winks had a little setback when she knocked a leg in a gallop and it took a while to settle down, but she's back in full work now."
Loch Ness, a half-sister to barn mate Perfect Harmonee, won two of her three starts during the winter and Regal Winks has also suffered just one defeat in her three appearances.
Leith Innes has been confirmed as the rider for Chance To Dance in the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hawke's Bay on Saturday week.
The Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards-trained gelding won the Listed Haunui Farm Karaka Classic (1600m) at Pukekohe Park in the hands of Opie Bosson, who will partner stablemate Gingernuts in the Hastings feature.
The Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) winner is an even money favourite to win the Livamol while Chance To Dance shares the second line of betting at $7 with Mime and Volkstok'n'barrell.
Leading Victorian apprentice Beau Mertens has tipped a bright future over ground for the New Zealand Group Two winner Wyndspelle.
He rode the son of Iffraaj on Saturday at Caulfield where the four-year-old finished runner-up over 1400m in his second appearance for Cranbourne trainer Mick Kent.
"I trialled him when he first arrived at Mick's stable from New Zealand and he gave me a really good feel when he finished just behind Yankee Rose at Cranbourne," Mertens said.
"I said to Mick he's going to be a nice stayer and he agreed. I thought the way he hit the line was quite impressive and he's got a lot of upside to him."
Wyndspelle won two races, including the Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m), and placed in the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) from the Ruakaka stable of Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs.
- NZ Racing Desk