A plan hatched four months ago is panning out for Demonetization and trainer Nigel Tiley.
The last step is winning the $100,000 Handicap tomorrow.
Demonetization is set to be the big mover in the market for feature mile, having already been backed in from $11 to $9 as the Ellerslie track in Auckland looks set to be perfectly rated as slow for him.
Tiley, an astute trainer, says that is crucial. "He improves so much when you even spit on the track so I think it should be ideal for him," he told the Herald yesterday.
"We set him for this race after he ran second in the Rich Hill Mile on New Year's Day because we thought we might get a track to suit over a distance he liked.
"And so far everything has gone almost perfectly. He had a jump out here on Monday and was very strong to the line over 1000m and we like him this week."
Punters can ignore Demonetization running poorly last start when second-last, as he was fresh-up on a firm track over the unsuitable 1200m, so it was nothing more than a lead-up race.
He will be ridden for the first time in a race by Sam Collett, and she travelled to Pukekohe to partner him in his jumpout on Monday.
Tiley also has Le Castile in the race, and she was fifth in the same race Demonetization failed in last start, but the track conditions tomorrow are a concern for her as she has no race form on a wetter track.
"She also had a jumpout on Monday and scooted through the wet track beautifully but even though she has no wet-track form I actually wouldn't mind some rain for her on Friday to loosen the track up. The last thing we want for her is a holding track."
Tiley and wife Lee take a solid team to tomorrow's meeting and rate both Lady Maroal (Champagne Stakes) as well as Lavita Vishvi (Championship Stakes) as good chances. "They are both well and should handle the distance. We think they are both quite progressive."
Lady Maroal is one of only two winners in the Champagne Stakes but Lavita Vishvi meets a far stronger field in the Championship Stakes.
The one to beat looks to be filly Joy Alone, who was outstanding coming wide to beat many of these in the Manawatu Classic last start, also run on a slow track, so if Ellerslie stays in that range it shouldn't bother her.