Awapuni jockey Jonathan Riddell has picked up a plum mount in the Captain Cook Stakes at Trentham on Saturday.
He will ride top mare Rasa Lila in the $200,000 weight-for-age 1600m feature, replacing Leith Innes, who was suspended at the weekend.
There were limited options as a replacement rider, particularly as Trentham clashes with an Ellerslie meeting, and Rasa Lila's trainers, Steven Ramsay and Julia Ritchie, were happy that Riddell, a proven group one rider, was still available. "He has ridden quite a few winners for us," Ramsay said.
Riddell had three group placings from five mounts on Guiseppina for the stable and rode her when she was runner-up to Shez Sinsational in the Spring Classic at Hastings.
He has also ridden at least one group one winner in seven of the past eight years.
Rasa Lila was freshened after finishing fifth, beaten 2.7 lengths, in the Livamol Classic (2040m) on October 1, when unsuited by a slow track.
"She kept coming [in the Livamol] but couldn't show her best in the conditions," Ramsay said. "She's got an explosive sprint when she's right."
A better guide to her Captain Cook prospects would be her close third in the Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings, beaten a long head and half a head, behind Kawi and Mime.
The 6-year-old Darci Brahma mare won the Cuddle Stakes (1600m) at her last appearance at Trentham and last term also won the Travis Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa and was a luckless third in the Manco Easter (1600m) at Ellerslie.
"We are really pleased with her at the moment," Ramsay said. "She's a bit stronger now and is a happy horse and enjoying life. She goes well fresh and will be suited by a big track at Trentham.
"She had a really quiet trial the other day, with Julia riding her, just to give her a day out and she went well." The Captain Cook will also serve as Rasa Lila's leadup to the Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.
A good-quality field is expected to tackle the Captain Cook, with Volkstok'n'barrell, Abidewithme, Hasselhoof and defending champion Julinsky Prince among the other contenders.
Rasa Lila will be accompanied contest the $20,000 special conditions maiden 1600m.
Seraphim, a Rip Van Winkle mare from the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups winner Ethereal, easily won a maiden 1400m at Avondale at her last start.
The stable will also have two runners at Ellerslie on Saturday, with Mopsy contesting the rating 65 2200m and Sopraffina tackling the rating 75 2200m.
Sopraffina, a half-sister to Victoria Oaks placegetter Eleonora, raced below expectations at her last start but a subsequent blood test suggested that she had been off-colour.