The pressure is off Kiwi staying star The Chosen One when he tackles the Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield tomorrow.
The outstanding Cambridge stayer goes into the race with his spots for next week's Caulfield Cup and November's Melbourne Cup already confirmed, so while his connections would love to win tomorrow, they don't have to.
"We're happy with him. He has to carry 59kg which won't be easy over 2400m but he won this race two years ago, albeit with less weight," says co-trainer Murray Baker.
"We had to win it to get into the Caulfield Cup two years ago but he has qualified for the Cups this year so we don't have to worry about that."
Baker said The Chosen One was likely to back up in the A$5 million Caulfield Cup seven days later and then progress to the A$8m Melbourne Cup at Flemington on November 2.
"It's hard to compare because I'm not there. It's made it harder this time around, not being able to be over there," Baker said.
Baker hasn't yet ruled Quick Thinker out of the Cups in Melbourne either with the prospect of a wet October making travelling south an attractive option.
"We were disappointed with his run in the Metropolitan, he just never really got going. That track wasn't wet enough for him. He needs it a lot wetter," he said.
"He's still in the Cups but we'll just tread water. There's the St Leger in Sydney but it appears Melbourne is meant to get the rain. It's forecast to be quite a wet October so we've always got an option to float him down there."
The Chosen One is at $21 for the Caulfield Cup, a race he ran third in last year, with TAB bookmakers and the same price for the Melbourne Cup, while Quick Thinker is at $101 for both.
Closer to home, last start Group 3 Gold Trail Stakes runner-up Mustang Valley is in race three at Matamata tomorrow.
"We're happy with her. It will be a good test for her," Baker said.
"It's a pretty good field. It all depends how she goes, but we hope to make it to Christchurch with her. There's still a lot of water to go under the bridge yet."
Baker said safely through tomorrow's race, Mustang Valley would contest the Soliloquy Stakes at Matamata on October 23 as a lead-up to the 1000 Guineas at Riccarton on November 13.
Francesca was ruled out of last week's Metric Mile at Awapuni with a niggling injury to a hind leg and Baker said while she was over that now, there hadn't been time for her to prepare for the Taranaki Breeders' Stakes. "We haven't got her next race mapped out yet but she seems right again," he said.
Baker and training partner Forsman will go into the Matamata Cup with Group 1 performer Frontman and Spring Delight.
"We're happy with the work of them both so they'll take their chance," Baker said.
"Frontman showed a fair bit last year. We're hoping for a good run from him.
"Spring Delight is training well. It's a black-print race so we're hoping for a good result."
- NZ Racing Desk
● The distance between the racing strongholds of Cambridge and Matamata has never seemed so far.
A confusing issue has arisen for trainers and jockeys after most of Waikato was in level 3 last night while Matamata is at level 2 ahead of tomorrow's meeting.
That means many trainers based in Cambridge and its surrounding areas were left with the choice of relocating to Matamata before the level 3 lockdown deadline last night, or face sending their horses to the town and arranging for staff based in a level 2 region to look after them for the race meeting.
It is a similar issue gallops and harness trainers in the Auckland region have found themselves in for the last seven weeks.
But it is amplified in the Waikato because so many horsepeople live there.
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing confirmed to the Herald last night the meeting would proceed.
It was up to jockeys to relocate before the deadline to be able to ride, and trainers who didn't move to get counterparts to look after their horses.
- Michael Guerin