Three trial winners from 37 starters are hardly the sort of numbers you might expect from New Zealand's most powerful stable but trainer Jamie Richards still left Cambridge a happy man yesterday.
Richards started next season early by trialling superstars like Probabeel, Avantage, Amarelinha, Entriviere and Sword Of State on a huge programme at the Cambridge synthetic track and plenty of them were well beaten.
Richards was neither surprised not worried.
"That is how we like to trial many of our horses, particularly the older horses, the first time out," he told the Herald.
"We are happy to let them find their feet and hit the line feeling comfortable and then they might go a little bit harder next time.
"So we had a good day and got just what we needed out of it." Staying in relaxed mode the two group one dominating mares Probabeel and Avantage did now have the hooded blinkers applied yesterday and both were relaxed when running third in their heats.
Probabeel, as she tends to do, hit a flat patch across the top in her 800m trial won easily by O'Charm before warming up late.
"That is just her and she will trial again without the hood next time but it will go back on when she returns to the races," explained Richards.
"She is a very big mare these days, 550kgs, so as you expect she will take a trial or two to get fit and then she will head straight to Australia to race so you won't see her here."
Avantage was also relaxed about her work when third to former Irish and Hong Kong galloper Bring It On, a last-start Counties winner, in a heat where Entriviere was a fast finishing second when eventually given some more rein by Danielle Johnson.
"Avantage knows when it is race day and when it isn't so she just cruised along but Opie knows her well and he was happy.
"She will probably start off in the Foxbridge at Te Rapa, which she won last year, and Prise De Fer could go there too.
"Entriviere is a different type of mare, she loves to run and you have to restrain her to not go too fast but she trialled very well.
"I am not thinking she will race here before she goes to Australia because we want to keep her away from weight-for-age racing too early."
Also likely to head to Australia without racing in New Zealand is this season's best juvenile Sword Of State, who tried something new settling off the pace before going down narrowly to an unraced Nostradamus colt trained by Ralph Manning who clearly has ability.
"I was happy to see him able to settle and knuckle down late and he will probably go straight to Aussie and has plenty of good three-year-old targets," says Richards.
"He is a good horse and we will aim him at the elite three-year-old races and let him show us how good he is."
Sword Of State had his first outing yesterday in the Cambridge Stud colours after the breeding powerhouse upped their ownership percentage in him since he last raced so will be clearly set for the races that can best increase her commercial stallion worth.
Even with Sword Of State likely to head off-shore Richards will be left with an embarrassment of riches in the early season three-year-olds ranks and says there is one clear improver in the crop.
"We have plenty of good horses for the local three-year-olds races and I was really happy with horses like Avonallo, Imperatriz and Palamos but the horse who has improved a lot of Quattro Quinta.
"He was a real two-year-old type and I wasn't sure whether he would grow and improve much but he really developed over the winter and I think he could be a factor in the early three-year-old races the way he is going."
Two of the other stars of the juvenile trials were Drum Major (Team Rogerson) and Meritable (Baker/Forsman) who both led to win their heats and won't be maidens for long.