Waipukurau galloper Dez is now almost guaranteed a start in next month's Group 3 $100,000 Winter Cup at Riccarton should his connections take that path.
Last Friday the Zed gelding was languishing in 28th position on the order of entry for the 1600m Canterbury feature but a gallant win in Saturday's $40,000 Hanley Formula Whyte Handicap (1600m) at Trentham has seen him move up to 19th.
The starting limit from the 1600m barrier at Riccarton is 18 and, given the usual number of horses that drop out before final acceptance time, he would almost certainly make the field.
The horse's trainer Simon Wilson, who also co-owns the horse, said after the Trentham win he wouldn't be making an immediate decision on a trip to Riccarton. However it was clearly in his thinking.
"We'll just see what happens," he said.
"We'll evaluate things over the next few days but we could possibly look that way."
Dez made up for an unlucky ninth over 1550m at Awapuni the previous Saturday when he scored a determined victory in last Saturday's time-honoured Whyte Handicap.
The 6-year-old gelding was sent out a $4.20 second favourite behind Rosewood and landed some good bets when finishing strongly up against the inside rail for a long neck win.
He proved a great pick up ride for senior jockey Darryl Bradley after Dylan Turner could not make the horse's 54kg handicap.
Wilson warned Bradley before he climbed aboard that Dez was not without his quirks, one of them being his tendency to switch off with about 600m to run.
Bradley settled the 6-year-old in third place and was ready when the horse suddenly felt under pressure coming to the home turn.
"I was warned about him hitting a flat spot, so I knew what was going to happen," he said.
"When he did I was able to pick him up and get him going again.
"He fought extremely well. This horse has done a good job."
The victory took Dez's career record to four wins from just eight starts, with two of those victories in this campaign.
He was sidelined for 2-1/2 years with a tendon injury, hence the reason for his limited racing career.
Wilson owns the gelding in partnership with close friends, Sam Lennox (Waverley) and Paul Mitchell (Patea).
Another class jumper
Hastings trainer Paul Nelson looks to have another potential jumping star in his stable in The Arabian Duke.
The 7-year-old Bachelor Duke gelding, placed in three of nine hurdle starts, made an impressive winning debut over the bigger fences in Saturday's maiden steeplechase at Trentham.
The Arabian Duke scored a dominant 6-1/4 length win in the 4000m event aided by another outstanding ride by jockey Aaron Kuru.
The 26-year-old rides the figure-eight steeplechase course at Trentham better than any other jockey at the moment.
He settled The Arabian Duke just in behind the pacemakers in the early stages and made sure he saved every inch of ground around the tight turns in the centre.
The Arabian Duke was still only fourth with two fences to jump but was obviously full of running and Kuru again took an inside run coming back on to the course proper to give him a handy advantage approaching the last fence.
Once over that obstacle The Arabian Duke raced away from his rivals for a dominant win.
Nelson only took over the training of The Arabian Duke in March after the horse was previously trained by Matamata-based Karyn McQuade, who races the horse in partnership with her husband Hamish and another close family friend.
McQuade trained The Arabian Duke for two wins and seven minor placings and gave him five hurdle starts last year for a second and two fourths.
They decided to transfer the horse to Nelson's establishment to further his jumping career.
"He promised a lot as a real stayer as a hurdler in his early days and now that he's steeplechasing he's going to have a lot of fun," Nelson said.
"Hamish and Karen had schooled him over the steeplechase fences before he came down to us and he had performed pretty well."
Nelson has yet to confirm The Arabian Duke's next assignment but said the horse is likely to head back to Trentham on July 26 for a Special Conditions Steeplechase over 4000m.
Gold Mag has a silver lining
Gold Mag, part-owned by Hawke's Bay's Peter Grieve, indicated he is destined for a bright future after backing up an impressive maiden win in the country with a stunning victory in his city debut in Australia on July 11.
With top Victorian jockey Craig Williams aboard, Gold Mag settled midfield in a A$40,000 1200m Rating 64 race for 3-year-olds at Sandown before bursting to the front in the straight and then clearing out from his rivals in the final 200m.
The gelding's 5-length winning margin bettered the 4-3/4 lengths he recorded when winning on debut over 1100m at Bendigo last month.
"He still doesn't know anything about what he's doing but he's got a serious motor and really good raw ability," Craig Williams said.
"I was very impressed.
"His asset is that he's got really good acceleration but he could sustain that for 400 metres and he still has no idea what he's doing.
"So he's a very exciting horse for the future."
Gold Mag is now expected to be given a freshen-up by his trainers David and Ben Hayes, and Tom Dabernig and then aimed at important races in the spring.
The 3-year-old was bred by Peter Grieve, in partnership with his close friend Barry Thomas of Christchurch.
The pair raced the horse's dam Chapinta, who was the winner of six races including an open class event over 2200m at Ellerslie.
Van Gogh adds another win
Van Gogh, part-owned by Hawke's Bay's Jamie Bridge, recorded his second win when successful at Timaru last Friday.
The 5-year-old gelding followed up a third over 1600m at Wingatui last month with a decisive length success in a $10,000 Rating 65 race over 1600m.
He settled fifth until the home turn before 40-year-old jockey Brandon Morgenrood angled him to the inside and he finish strongly along the rail to get up to beat race favourite Bridget Town.
Bridge, when based in Auckland, was the original trainer of Van Gogh and prepared the horse for a couple of minor placings before transferring him to Wanganui trainer Kevin Myers.
The horse won a maiden race over 1500m at Greymouth in January last year for Myers before he was transferred to the South Island stable of Kerry and Ian Taplin at Otautau.
Bridge still races the horse in partnership with his Auckland-based uncle Ivan Bridge and Kevin Myers.
Bi-monthly award winner
Havelock North's Tess Castles is the recipient of the bi-monthly Kevin Wood Memorial trophy for the months of May and June.
The award is sponsored by the Hawke's Bay Racehorse Owners Association.
Castles is one of four close friends who lease a 50 per cent racing share in the highly promising 2-year-old London Express, who is trained by New Plymouth's Allan Sharrock.
The Shamexpress filly has had four starts for two wins and two thirds. She broke through for a maiden win over 1200m on her home track on May 12 and then took out the Listed $50,000 Castletown Stakes (1200m) at Wanganui on June 2.
Parkes happy with Hiflyer
Jockey Johnathan Parkes was more than happy with Hiflyer's effort in his Australian debut in Sydney last Saturday.
The Wanganui-based jockey finished fourth aboard the Peter Lock-trained son of Tavistock in the Listed Winter Stakes (1400m).
"I thought it was a god run under the weight (59.5kg), he's not an overly big horse and there's a bit of improvement in him," Parkes said. "He was doing his best work late."
Hiflyer was bustled to settle in behind the pace before sticking on bravely in the straight.
"I said to Peter that he'll be a lot better-suited over there to a mile when you don't have to ask him for too much early," Parkes said.
Tayla Wenn to start training
Tayla Wenn is preparing for the transition from jockey to trainer.
The 23-year-old's riding career will take a back seat when she takes over the Byerley Park stables of Scott Lucock and Sally Gillespie, who are moving to senior positions with the Te Akau operation from August 1.
Wenn is currently apprenticed to the duo, but she is unlikely to continue race day riding.
"I've enjoyed riding and I may still get a senior licence, mainly to ride my own horses at trials. Being a jockey isn't a top priority."
Wenn, who has ridden 13 winners, said Byerley Park offered an ideal location and excellent facilities.
"It's nice and quiet here and I've learned a lot from Scott and Sally, they're really good people.
"They will leave four horses with me, Sheradream and three untried young horses."
Wenn's partner is Jack Mackinnon, a junior driver within the harness ranks, and he is also backing the new venture.
"Jack bought two yearlings at the sales, which I'll be breaking in as well," she said.