Trainer Andrew Carston will get a fair idea of whether he should press on to the Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) next month with Art De Triomphe after she takes on the boys this weekend.
“We will be a lot wiser on Saturday afternoon as to how we fit in with the boys, but the New Zealand 1000 Guineas (Group 1, 1600m) is still our number one target,” Carston said.
The in-form filly will contest the Group 3 Barneswood Farm Stakes (1400m) at Ashburton on Saturday where she will be met by a strong line-up, headed by Group One performer I Wish I Win.
“I am really happy with my filly but it is definitely a step up this week. I Wish I Win is a Group One performer so he has got to be a big chance,” Carston said.
I Wish I Win takes a strong form line into the race, having finished runner-up in the Group 3 Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) and Listed El Roca – Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m) in his two starts this preparation, but Art De Triomphe has been equally as impressive.
The daughter of Vadamos has won both of her starts this spring, including her first stakes victory in the Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) at Riccarton last month.
“She has come through it in really good order,” Carston said.
“I have had four weeks just to keep her ticking over. She is a filly who doesn’t take a lot of work but her work on the course proper at Riccarton on Tuesday was outstanding, so I am really happy with where we are at.
“She steps ups to 1400m this week and I don’t think the little bit of rain around is going to affect her too much.”
Carston is also looking forward to lining up Group performer Milford Sound in the Midlands Nutritional (1400m) with an eye towards the Group 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) next month.
It will be the Ocean Park gelding’s second-up run after beating just one runner home over 1400m at Riccarton earlier this month.
“I couldn’t be any happier with Milford Sound, his work has been outstanding,” Carston said.
“He had no luck first-up but he has come through it well. He drops back to 74 grade and this will give us a line as to whether we head to the Coupland’s Mile or not.
“I can’t fault the horse, I expect a big run.”
Milford Sound will be joined in the race by stablemates Hee’s Our Secret and Caitlyn Jay.
“Both of them are going well and they both ran well for second at Ashburton. It is quite a strong race but they are going well and deserve their place,” Carston said.
Carston will have a strong representation at Ashburton on Saturday and believes Dettifoss and The Garrison in the Valachi Downs (1400m) and Shock Prospect in the Rainers Irrigation (1400m) are top chances.
“I think Dettifoss is above average. He has had a little freshen-up and loves a little bit of rain around,” Carston said
“The Garrison is running well and I think Shock Prospect is not far off winning a race.”