Nigel Tiley has no expectation that he can repeat his Group 2 Manco Easter Handicap (1600m) win of last year, despite having twice the hand in today's Ellerslie feature.
Tiley won the race from his home base of Pukekohe last year with Megablast, taking advantage of heavy conditions during a period when the Ellerslie track was undergoing renovation work.
Talented All Too Hard 4-year-old Demonetization joins Megablast in today's contest, set to be run on a dead surface at worst with no rain forecast before the race.
Tiley said Shinko King 7-year-old gelding Megablast didn't have the residual fitness he had going into the race last year and the Easter Handicap was more a suitable starting point for an upcoming Brisbane campaign.
"He's not as forward as he was last year. He was ready to go last year," Tiley said. "If it was a bottomless track this weekend, he'd be some chance but there's no chance of that and I think they'll go too quick for him. He'll be on a plane for Brisbane on the third of May and this race will bring him on for that."
After his Easter triumph last year, Megablast had a four-race campaign at the Queensland winter carnival, winning the Listed Caloundra Cup (2400m) as well as placing in the Group 2 PJ O'Shea Stakes (2200m) and the Group 3 Queen's Cup (3200m), all at the Sunshine Coast.
"He'll target the same races as last year. His main aim will be the Caloundra Cup again," Tiley said.
Demonetization is likely to join Megablast as part of a six-strong team heading to Brisbane from the Tiley yard, also likely to feature Group 2 winner Bisou Bisou, promising 3-year-old Standing Ovation and a couple of maiden gallopers.
"He's going well but the draw for Saturday [barrier 14] hasn't been kind to him. He could probably have done with a shower of rain as well," Tiley said of Demonetization.
"We've changed his shoes and tinkered with a few things like putting the hoof pads on to help him along. He hasn't got the best conformation and he's best with cut in the ground.
"From that draw, we've got no choice but to go back. He'll probably be trapped wide, but if he can get cover he'll be fine. He'll head to Brisbane after this and follow the same sort of campaign as Megablast. We'll just place them where we think they can be competitive."
TAB bookmakers have Demonetization as a $7 second favourite, and Megablast is the field's $81 outsider in a market headed by the Peter McKay-trained The Mitigator at $4.50.
Tiley will also produce Riding The Wave at Ellerslie, the Malibu Moon 3-year-old chasing his third straight win as he prepares to tackle the Marks Ewen 1400.
"He's improved since his Te Aroha win and this is a nice race for him, though he might be looking for 1600m now. There should be good speed though and that would suit him," Tiley said.
- NZ Racing Desk