Top-class trainers know top-class horses can do just about anything.

Which is why Chris Gibbs won't be staggered if Volkstok'n'barrell wins tomorrow's $200,000 Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes at Trentham in his first start since June 11.

Not an ideal lead into a group one race over 1600m, particularly when Gibbs, who parts owns the million dollar earner, admits the 5-year-old looks burly.

"But he's such a good horse, you never know what he's likely to do," he says.


This might not be the Volkstok'n'barrell that initially compiled such a streak of unbeaten form he was seen as the next, "wow, you beaut, good thing", but don't under-estimate the potency that remains.

"He's in great health," says Gibbs. "His work has been super and he's probably a bit more forward that we first thought. Matty Cameron was very happy after he worked him at Ellerslie.

"You can be fooled by looking at him, because he can look a bit chubby when he's at his best.

"It's difficult to know how he'll race, but he's so good he could do anything."

Yesterday Trentham was assessed at a dead (4) and with the possibility of a few showers late today that rating should not significantly change.

Julinsky Prince will be a tough opponent regardless of conditions, but some of his best form has been with rain around.

He had every chance when third behind Abidewithme at Tauranga last start, but it was a useful run and he has an excellent record on the course winning this race last year as well as the Windsor Park Plate.

Abidewithme turned in a career-best performance when she came from the tail of the field, go around every horse and score nicely over El Pescado and Julinsky Prince at Tauranga.

She could not have been more impressive. Danielle Johnson replaces a suspended Michael McNab tomorrow.

Ringo is a newcomer to weight-for-age racing, but he has been carrying big weights in handicaps, so the transition should not be too dramatic.

He can handle most types of footing, which makes him a trifecta hope at the worst.

Unbeaten filly Gift Of Power will look to defend that status early in the day in the Wellington Seamarket Wakefield Challenge Stakes.

She had to show a lot of grit to overcome the heavy ground and win on this track on October 22.

She has drawn perfectly over the 1100m and will take beating.

• A light weight will help Snowdrop balance out inexperience in the $70,000 J.A.Russell Concorde at Ellerslie.

Snowdrop has had just 12 visits to the racetrack against the combined 59 of top sprinters Ryan Mark and Natuzzi.

However, importantly, she has just 53kg compared with the 60kg Ryan Mark will lump around and Natuzzi's 58kg.

After her close second to Shezhardtocatch in Pukekohe's big sprint recently, Snowdrop is in the perfect position to score. Her career record of six wins from 12 starts is impressive and she launches a summer programme from the bottom of the handicap. The No 2 barrier is greatly in her favour.

Another mare down in the weights, Red Striker, could be the danger.

She was slow to jump away in that big Pukekohe sprint and made up a huge amount of ground to be only 1.7 lengths from Shezhardtocatch in fifth place. As a back runner she always needs luck, but if she gets it she can take this from her 53kg level.

Ryan Mark has shown he can manage big weights and the 60kg may not stop him with Natuzzi and his stablemate Fire Jet being other chances.

Punting pointers

• Best bet: Volkstok'n'barrell (No 1, R9 Trentham) Class generally comes to the fore in group one racing and he is ready for a top effort.

• Each-way: Serious Satire (No 11, R7 Ellerslie) Looked better than average early in her career and could sprint well fresh.

• The roughie: Zedbee (No 9, R2 Trentham) The progeny of Zed are strong stayers and this bloke could sneak a place at good odds over the two miles.