Trainer Steve Telfer is daring to dream of cups glory with the surprise package of the pacing season - but not the cup everybody else is thinking about.
Telfer has had a red-hot start to the season but he admits even he is stunned by the form of Better B Amazed, with the enormously improved mare scoring two crushing open-class wins at Alexandra Park.
The second came last Friday where she sat parked and rated 1:53.9 for 1700m, just 0.4 of a second off his national record on a cold, wet night.
Better B Amazed has now beaten New Zealand Cup contenders No Doctor Needed and Hug The Wind twice, coming from outside them both times and would not be out of place in the NZ Cup at Addington on November 14. But while Telfer realises the new-season version of his mare has jumped up a few notches, he is thinking of a different cup.
"There is a little chance she could target the Victoria Cup at Melton next month," says Telfer. "We all realise how much better she is going even than last season when she was going pretty well. I can't really put it down to one thing, probably just maturity.
"But she is working better and every time this season we have taken her to the workouts or race she has gone up a level.
"We had a meeting on Saturday night to discuss what to do next and the 3200m of the NZ Cup isn't her best distance so we aren't considering a late nom for that. But the new Victoria Cup interests us a bit."
The Victoria Cup has been transferred from the January date when Lazarus won it last season to October 14, the same day as the Everest in Sydney and the Caulfield Guineas.
Because of the move, leading trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have declared they aren't likely to send one of their team to the 2240m mobile and with the Australian elite ranks lacking depth after injuries to Hectorjayjay and Bling It On, the Victoria Cup is dominated by Lennytheshark and My Field Marshal.
"They are still great horses but we think she is at her best over sprint trips so we are considering taking her to Victoria for the Smoken Up over 1720m in early October and if she raced well, then the Victoria Cup," says Telfer. "She we will nominate her for the Spring Cup next week and make the final decision after that, but a start next week might also depend on her handicap."
Telfer would eventually like to campaign Better B Amazed at Menangle, outside Sydney, where in her current form something close to a 1:50 mile looks possible.
She wasn't the only big-name pacing mare to impress over the weekend as Dream About Me was a brave third to stablemate Have Faith In Me in their comeback race at Addington on Saturday. After sitting parked, Dream About Me's run was as good as Have Faith In Me and Titan Banner, who beat her home.
She will now start in this Sunday's Hannon Memorial at Oamaru, while Have Faith In Me will be allowed to miss that next stop on the road to the NZ Cup.
But much of the cup focus will be on the Rangiora trials tomorrow, where Lazarus and Heaven Rocks have their first public outings this season. They should follow identical paths to the great race so punters will closely eye dress rehearsals.
• Better B Amazed has been the surprise package of the pacing season.
• Her improvement could see her target Lennytheshark in the A$200,000 Victoria Cup.
• The road to the NZ Cup gets more serious tomorrow when Lazarus and Heaven Rocks step out at the trials.