Paul Nelson can't fault The Shackler ahead of Trentham today, but he is concerned with the jumper's weight.
The Hastings trainer produced the 11-year-old to win the Waikato Hurdles (3200m) and has paid a price for his front-running victory at Te Rapa.
"He's gone up two and a-half kilos for that, he's climbed up the handicap so quickly," Nelson said.
The 69kg impost aside, he is more than satisfied with the gelding's condition for today's K. S. Browne Hurdle (3200m).
"He's well and handles really heavy tracks," Nelson said. "He'll probably go back for the Wellington Hurdles and then we'll play it by ear."
The Shackler will be opposed by stablemate Kings Deep, who will be making his first appearance since finishing fourth over the bigger fences at Te Aroha last October.
"He's had a jump-out and a point-to-point, but some of the others may be a bit sharper," Nelson said. "He's probably more of a steeplechaser now."
Zardetto will represent the team over the bigger fences in the Irvines McGregor Grant Steeplechase (4000m) following his last-start second at Hawke's Bay.
"I was very happy with his first-up effort, some of the other horses had a couple more runs than him," Nelson said.
The regally-bred Zardetto, is a son of Redoute's Choice and the group one winner Champagne, had an outing on the flat before he finished runner-up on his home track.
- NZ Racing Desk