Gareth Hughes must know how Aramis feels.

The pair are only just starting their careers but have both done so with impressive strike rates, which they hope to continue in the first, and best, race at Alexandra Park tonight.

Hughes has joined his father Brian, one of the most astute trainers in New Zealand for three decades, in partnership this season and won with his very first horse to the races before Aramis has gone on a winning run.

"Its been a super start and I feel very lucky to have the chance to train with Dad after everything he has already taught me," says the likable 31-year-old.


The stable's superstar The Orange Agent has been back jogging for five weeks and is being aimed at the Auckland Cup meeting, which could set up a stunning mares clash with Dream About Me and Better B Amazed in the Queen Of Hearts.

But while she has been recovering from injury, Aramis has emerged as one of the more promising three-year-olds in the country, having already beaten subsequent Breeders Crown winner King Of Swing.

Three-year-olds taking on mid-class older pacers at this stage of the season are rare but the Hughes men want to keep Aramis ticking over before the upcoming Sires' Stakes heats so he has little option but tonight's opening race.

His ace draw will ensure he starts favourite although punters could find it a mixed blessing as Aramis was crossed from the same position last start at Cambridge, being pushed back to last before unleashing a blistering sprint to beat a weaker field than what he meets tonight.

But Gareth Hughes says he is not concerned about a repeat of those early worries.

"I think the problem at Cambridge was he was new to the track and gawking around a little bit," he explains.

"I think he should be fine back at Alexandra Park and if he can lead I think he would be comfortable there.

"He will be hard to beat but horses like Valor Lustre have been racing well so it won't be an easy race to win."

Valor Lustre has made enormous improvement for in-form trainer Steve Telfer and if the free-going mare does get in front of Aramis she should could take some catching while Raptors Flight is worth taking note of as he looked sharp at the recent workouts and should be in for a good campaign.

The Hughes stable also has talented maiden Miss Keesha in race four tonight and while she won't be a maiden for long Hughes is not bursting with confidence.

"These maiden races at Alexandra Park can be really hard to win from wide draws so she will need some luck at some stage."