The in-form Chevron is expected to give another bold home track showing on Saturday, despite an unplanned drop back in distance.
The Ruakaka five-year-old has been in fine touch over ground in his most recent outings and circumstances have forced local trainer Chris Gibbs to change tack with the gelding.
“He’s a promising staying horse and they didn’t get enough nominations for the 2100m race so they dumped it and that’s why he’s had to come back to the mile,” he said.
Chevron will take his place in the Harcourt Series at Ruakaka (1600m) and Gibbs remains confident the son of El Roca can cope admirably at the shorter trip.
“It obviously wasn’t what he was preparing for and we’ve changed his work around a fraction so hopefully he will be sharp enough,” he said.
“I don’t really think it will be an issue, he’s fine and was very impressive over a mile at Pukekohe a few runs back.”
Chevron was a dominant winner over 1600m in late May before he crushed his rivals by 8.5 lengths at Ruakaka over 2100m and was then third over that course and distance in an open handicap last month.
Ever So Easy will take on his stablemate on Saturday following an unplaced last-start performance in an open sprint.
“I wouldn’t be chucking him away either, over 1400m he ranged up and was then a bit one-paced so he’ll more than likely lead-up from his draw,” Gibbs said.
He will also have two representatives in the Kerikeri Cup (1100m) with Scarfi and Diamond Girl to take on a quality line-up that features Group One winners Entriviere and Imperatriz.
Makfi mare Scarfi has returned from an extended spell in the South Island where she won three times and Diamond Girl is racing well, but also faces a sharp rise in class.
“I sent Scarfi down to Terri Rae because she was battling a bit up here, but it turned to custard because it’s been so wet down there,” Gibbs said.
“She is a really nice mare and has been black-type placed so she will be put up for sale after a couple more runs. She’s been aimed at an open 1400m race here in two weeks’ time.”
Diamond Girl was a first-up course and distance winner before placing at her following two outings.
“In her own class I would be confident, but I didn’t want to step to a mile just yet so I’ve kept her very fresh. I’m sure she will run a nice race as she’s in beautiful order,” Gibbs said.
“It will be hard against these horses and it’s great for the club to see some Group One horses step out up here, it’s going to be exciting and the track will be beautiful.”
While Gibbs also acknowledges his debutante Malfy Rosa will face a stern test in the Alibaba’s Flying Carpets Dash (1100m), he is expecting the Burgundy three-year-old to acquit herself well.
“I wish it was a maiden, but she is a half-sister to Gin Martini who ran third in the Australian Oaks (Group 1, 2400m) so she is an interesting runner,” he said.
“It’s tough ask against experienced horses and Stephen Autridge’s one (Alabama Gold) has drawn one so I imagine there’s only one way it will go and that’s straight to the front, but I think my filly will run well.”
Of his other representatives, Gibbs expected Cruisy Lass to be competitive in the Tim Brandon Livestock Handicap (2100m).
“She looked a bit dour last time in the three-year-old mile so she’s looking for ground and she should be right in it,” he said.
“I’ve got a bit of a mixed bag on the day really, so if I can get a winner out if it I would be happy.”