Te Aroha conditioner Peter Lock will take two runners south for today's New Plymouth meeting and he believes both horses are winning chances.
Six-year-old gelding Viktor Vegas will tackle the feature race of the day, the New Plymouth ITM Interprovincial Challenge (1600m), and he takes some strong form into the race.
The son of Tavistock has had two runs this preparation for a win first-up over 1200m at Awapuni before getting pipped at the line by The Good Fight over 1400m at Te Rapa earlier this month.
"We thought it was a very good effort first-up because he is not a 1200m or 1400m horse," Lock said.
"I think he is going to be better once he has this run under his belt and gets up over 2000m.
"In his fresh-up run he was under pressure the whole race and it was a very good ride by Jonathan Parkes to get him up to win that race. I thought we had won last time, but we got bobbed on the line.
"He's looking for the mile, so I think this week with the very heavy track [rated Heavy11 yesterday] it's going to be like 1800m. Hopefully that should play into his hands. I don't think it [heavy11] will be a problem for him. It looks like it is going to be a very loose track, so that should suit him right down to the ground."
Viktor Vegas has a strong record on heavy tracks having won two and finished runner-up twice in his four starts on the surface. However, the Te Aroha galloper ironically doesn't enjoy the wet conditions back home.
"He has done everything right, but is a horse that has been a wee bit difficult to train," Lock said.
"He doesn't like being in a box, so it has been a bit difficult for him going into this with all the rain we have had, but hopefully he puts his best foot forward. Rosie Myers will ride Viktor Vegas today and Lock said while he has drawn barrier two he is not overly concerned heading into the race.
"That's probably not the ideal barrier because he jumps and gets himself back a little bit but with a small field I don't think it's going to be a major problem."
TAB bookmakers have installed Viktor Vegas as a $3.50 favourite ahead of last start winner Alvins Dream, and Lock shares the bookmakers' confidence in his horse.
Lock is also optimistic about the chances of Southern Princess ahead of her tilt at the ITM Pukepine 1400m.
Southern Princess will step back to rating 72 company today and will be assisted by apprentice jockey Mub Kareem's claim, and will only carry 54.5kg.
- NZ Racing Desk