Quality three-year-old Sword Of Osman will make a return to the racetrack this weekend when he tackles the group three Cambridge Stud Northland Breeders' Stakes (1200m) at Ruakaka on Saturday.
Sword Of Osman won on three occasions in his juvenile year, with victory in the group one Sistema Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie over stablemate and Champion two-year-old Avantage the highlight of the campaign.
The son of Savabeel is prepared by Jamie Richards at Matamata and is being set for the group one Al Basti Equiworld Dubai 46th New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November.
"He has had two trials to get him ready to return and they have both been pretty good," Richards said.
"We were keen to get him in behind a couple and just give him some options. Hopefully he's not going to be just one dimensional. He got back and over-raced a little bit in the trials and that's probably taken the sprint out of him, but we've been pleased with him. We'll just try and ride him quietly again on Saturday."
Richards said the gelding would likely take in the group two Sacred Falls Hawke's Bay Guineas (1400m) on October 6, before heading south to the Listed Zacinto Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton on October 27 as the lead-ups to the 2000 Guineas.
"I think the Zacinto is now the form race for three-year-olds for that carnival," Richards said.
Te Akau Racing have established a fine record in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas with four winners of the race in the past decade, but Richards does not believe he will have a significant volume of runners on target for this year's classic.
"We've got Publicist in the South Island who is shaping up well," Richards said. "He's an improving Redoute's Choice colt that we like. He's probably going to be the only colt we'll have there at this stage.
"Sword Of Osman is a gelding and he will also head towards the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) in January before looking at Australia in the autumn."
Meanwhile, last season's group one New Zealand Derby (2400m) runner-up Mongolianconqueror is another likely to resume at Ruakaka on Saturday.
"We were going to run him at Wanganui on Saturday but the track was heavy and then it improved," Richards said.
"We just thought we'd go to Ruakaka this coming Saturday where he'll run in the Benchmark Rating 82 1400m with an allowance and that'll be a nice place to kick him off.
"Then we'll just have to pick and choose where we head to from there. We've been held up by cancelled trials but the horse is going well. He's taken a little while to come out of the winter and we have taken him quietly but he's on the right path now.
"We've nominated him for all the big races in Australia but we are probably a little bit behind the eight ball, so we've just got to get through Saturday and see how he goes and then finalise some plans from there."
- NZ Racing Desk