The cancellation of today's Te Teko trials may have thrown a group one lifeline to in-form giant Julius.
Because without even leaving his stable yesterday, the big sprinter may have increased his chances of getting a start in the first group one of the season, the $200,000 Tarzino Trophy at Hastings on September 1.
Julius is one of three equal favourites for the Tarzino, sitting alongside Start Wondering and Melody Belle at $9, and after his comeback win at Te Rapa on Saturday, that could look good value. Except for the slight problem that the John Bell-trained seven-year-old sits 21st on the order of entry for the Tarzino.
He could erase that problem by winning the Foxbridge Plate at Te Rapa on Saturday week because it is a group two and would promote him into the second bracket of eligible Tarzino candidates, whereas at the moment, he is ranked only 21st because his best career win has come in a group three.
The Tarzino gives preference to group one winners, then group two and finally group three.
Bell says Julius has come through Saturday's win in perfect order but he won't commit to the Foxbridge until after he has worked this weekend, so punters will have no idea about whether he gets a Tarzino start for at least 12 days, which all of a sudden makes that $9 TAB quote not quite so sexy.
"But if I knew we were going to get a start, I'd rather go straight to the Tarzino than race three times in a month," said Bell.
The Tarzino will have 16 starters and of the 20 ranked above Julius, most were, until yesterday, expected to start, with the exception of Age Of Fire.
"We are probably going to look at Ruakaka the same day instead with him," said Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards.
That would still leave Te Akau with Melody Belle and Our Abbadean for the Tarzino but Melody Belle, like many of the north's best gallopers, has had a spanner thrown into the works of her preparation with the cancellation of today's Te Teko trials, one of the traditional first get-togethers of the season for group one horses.
Those trials have now been re-scheduled to next Monday but that is less than ideal with the Foxbridge Plate just five days later.
"She was going to go to the trials and then straight into the Foxbridge but she will now go to Taupo tomorrow for a good gallop instead of the trial," said Richards.
Other Tarzino candidates who were to have trialled today but will now need to find another way to clean out the lungs include Jon Snow, Francaletta and Charles Road.
Of the three, Francaletta is the worst affected because she is rated 23rd on the Tarzino entry list (likely 22nd) and needs to win the Foxbridge to be guaranteed a start.
Trialling today would have provided a near-perfect path to the Foxbridge. Doing the same next Monday would not be quite as suitable. Of the top 20 entries for the Tarzino, only Age Of Fire looks certain to not be there, with Hawke's Bay Racing boss Andrew Castles expecting most of the big players to make the trip.
Two who intend to be there are the Michael and Matthew Pitman-trained Savvy Coup (ranked 4) and Son Of Maher (equal 16th).
"They are both heading that way and Savvy Coup will stay for all three legs of the Triple Crown at this stage, and if she races well enough, then she will head to Melbourne," said Matthew Pitman.
Others sharing the $10 line with Francaletta but still ranked outside the top 16 for the Tarzino include Scott Base (18) and New York Minute (20).
• The $200,000 Tarzino Trophy at Hastings on September 1 is the first group one thoroughbred race of the season.
• Several of the favourites are ranked outside the top 16 and will need defections to earn a start.
• The cancellation of today's Te Teko trials will cause a change of plans for some of our elite gallopers and could impact the Tarzino.