There are a number good indications of a really top horse in form.

One is that they get up and win after having looked impossible chances 50m or 100m from the finish.

Stand Tall could not win with 75m to run at Trentham last Saturday and he got there in the last bound.

It's that sort of form that is going to take him close in tomorrow's $100,000 Hawkes Bay Gold Cup at Hastings.

Last Saturday's 1500m race at Trentham was within one stride of being too short for Stand Tall, but trainer John Wheeler could find no alternative lead-up to tomorrow's richer race.

"There just wasn't anything else."

The jump this time to 2200m is what the talented stayer is looking for.

A huge plus factor for Stand Tall is last week's dead footing.

The horse has slight joint problems which often do not allow him to back up well after running on a very firm surface.

And the fact the Trentham footing was so yielding has seen him bounce through the race perfectly.

"He's been very free all week," said Wheeler yesterday.

The No 19 barrier (he comes into No 14 if the emergencies do not get a start) looks formidable, but Stand Tall is a natural back runner and Wheeler is not concerned.

The Taranaki trainer rates his own two runners, All In Black and Castlebar, as probably the main dangers.

"All In Black is flying at the moment.

"She's one on the ballot, but James McDonald wants to wait and see if she gets a run - he wouldn't take another ride.

"And Castlebar is very good when she strikes a decent track."

It will be a good training feat if All In Black makes the field and wins.

She has won only four races, the last three straight, and comes into this from R80 class.

"I know it was only a rubbish race she won here at New Plymouth last start, but she absolutely bolted in," said Wheeler.

Vosne Romanee looks a major threat.

He has not won past 1600m but in his only start beyond that distance - in the 2000m Gold Cup at Awapuni last start - he got to the line strongly in fourth place after being posted three wide in mid-field in an on-pace race.

He ran on gamely in the closing stages, suggesting an extra 200m would not worry him.

However, he has drawn out beyond mid-field and will need luck in the first 400m before the sharp bend out of the Hastings home straight.

Katy Keen has been struggling to find her true form this preparation. She keeps making a little ground late in her races, but her finishes seem to lack the dash of old.

Spectacular Icon will take beating after his close third to MacO'Reilly and Sir Slick in the Gold Cup at Awapuni.

He got a weight concession that day and carried 55kg, but this time has to carry equal topweight of 58kg.

Under that same weight he was narrowly beaten by Casa De Campo in the main handicap at Tauranga at his previous start.

The fact he can race handy will be to his advantage if traffic problems occur in the capacity field.

* Stand Tall has the right credentials.
* The classy stayer was stylish in winning at Trentham last Saturday.
* Conditions are perfect for him this time.
* Trainer John Wheeler is happy with his other two acceptors, All In Black and Castlebar. Vosne Romanee rates highly.