Cannon Hill’s performance in Saturday’s age group feature at Pukekohe will determine the summer path for the colt.
The son of Ardrossan has earned his first crack at black-type in the Group 3 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m), which will give trainer Tony Pike a clearer guide on where the three-year-old is best placed for the rest of the campaign.
“He’s still a bit immature, but he’s heading the right way and it’s a small but quality line-up. It will be interesting to see how he fits in,” he said.
“Obviously, there are some very nice races coming up in the next couple of months, one is at Group 1 level (Levin Classic, 1600m) and one’s worth a lot of money ($1.5 million Karaka Million, 1600m).
“It would be nice to think he would be heading that way, if not then there’s plenty of other options around through the summer and autumn.”
To be ridden by Masa Hashizume, Cannon Hill won his first two starts this preparation before he finished third last time out over this course and distance.
“He travelled up like the winner in that race and it was still a good, solid run for a horse still learning his trade,” Pike said.
“We’ve changed the blinkers to visor blinkers this weekend, which will hopefully help him and he’s really well.”
Pike will also be represented by Slipper Island and Tellall in the Championship Qualifier (1400m).
Ryan Elliot will partner the former while apprentice Tristan Moodley has been booked for Tellall.
“Slipper Island has drawn to get a lovely trip behind the speed. It’s a good quality Rating 75 and he should be hitting his peak after his fresh-up run,” Pike said.
“Tellall has come back from injury and his run at Tauranga on a wet track, which he hates, was reasonable but he is a very hard horse to place at the moment.
“He’s struggling in open handicap grade, so we’ve dropped him back with a claim and he’s going to need a lot of luck from that barrier (14).”
Pike will also have leading chances at Trentham with Poetic Champion in the Group 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m) and Promised Land in the Blue Star Premier (1600m).
Poetic Champion romped home in his Hawera debut before he finished third in the Listed Counties Challenge Stakes (1100m).
“On face value he was probably a touch disappointing, but they did go quite quickly and put the pressure on early in the home straight,” Pike said.
“We think a lot of him and his work was sensational on Tuesday morning. We’ll take the blinkers off and hopefully he can get back to winning ways.”
Vinnie Colgan will ride the Super Seth gelding while Michael McNab will again team up with Echoes Of Heaven four-year-old Promised Land after their last-start Te Aroha success.
“He is a nice, progressive staying horse who is still learning and blinkers will help him on Saturday,” Pike said.
“The long-term target is for him to get back to Trentham for the Innovation race ($350,000 Remutaka Classic) over 2100m.”