Levin trainer Geoff Haigh didn't hang around too long at the Ōtaki races last week.

Not long after his horse High Quality had relaxed and cooled down after winning the $35,000 Dunstan Feeds 2300m, he was on the truck and back to the long grass of the farm.

Haigh was keen to have his horse recover quickly from the run as he has bigger fish to fry this summer, starting with Trentham tomorrow in the $30,000 Fastrack Insurance Chalmers Handicap (2500m).

It is all part of a planned preparation targeting the $250,000 Wellington Cup (3200m) on the same course on January 19 next year with the up-and-coming stayer.


"I was keen to get him home and relaxed on some fresh grass. When I went to feed him later that night he was waiting at the gate," he said.

"He ate up everything that night and has come through the run well."

"We'll set him for the Wellington Cup now."

Haigh had handled High Quality patiently and the six year old was relatively lightly raced. He had now won five races and earnt $78,950 in prizemoney.

Levin apprentice jockey Sam O'Malley, who rides High Quality most mornings in training, earned praise for well-rated ride at Ōtaki.

The pair were building a good relationship and were seldom out of the money in 22 starts together, winning twice.

O'Malley said there was a misconception the horse was a heavy track specialist, even though four of his five career wins were in wet ground.

"He's actually a better horse on top of the ground," he said.

"He's just able to cope with wet ground too."

O'Malley was lucky to be aboard High Quality at Ōtaki though, as he said he "butchered" the horse at his previous start.

Senior jockey Chris Johnson was orginially booked, but was later unable to meet the engagement.

High Quality boasted one of Australasia's greatest stayers in his pedigree, with his grand-dam Margaux a half-sister to 1995 Melbourne Cup winner Doriemus, who won the Caulfield Cup that same year.

Doriemus raced in top company for many seasons and if it wasn't for Might and Power in 1997, he would have completed the big cups double again, finishing second both times.

Further boosting his staying cause was the fact that his dam was by Centro, his grand-dam by War Hawk II and his great grand-dam by Zamazaan - all stallions that produce distance horses.

Meanwhile, local horses had fared well in the Wellington Cup in the past.

O'Malley's late grandfather Buster O'Malley trained Loofah to win the big race in 1968. Mick Preston trained Imaprince from Levin to win in 1985, while Manakau horse Spiro won in 2011.

Foxton horse Castletown achieved legend status in winning the cup in 1991, 1992 and 1994 for trainer Paddy Bussutin.

High Quality was quoted at $81 to win the Wellington Cup on TAB fixed odds markets yesterday.