Sampson will end a long, long wait for his trainer if he can claim Saturday’s Group 3 Wellington Cup (3200m) at Trentham.
The Otaki stayer looks ideally-placed to claim the Wallaceville Estate-sponsored event, 39 years after Howie Mathews prepared Big Gamble to win in the hands of Toby Autridge.
Sampson is presented with a good opportunity with the presence of the southerner Patrick Erin compressing the handicap.
Brian and Shane Anderton’s Listed Riverton Cup (2147m) winner is a clear topweight with 59.5kg with Sampson one of 13 runners on the minimum.
“It’s all about weight, to carry 58 or 59kg over two miles is very difficult,” Mathews said.
“Sampson’s got 53kg which is a great weight for him.”
Sampson will be having his fourth start over two miles having finished third in the race two years ago, seventh in a Group 1 Auckland Cup and fourth in last year’s Group 3 New Zealand Cup.
“I thought he could win the New Zealand Cup, but he was beaten by better horses on the day and he stuck to his guns quite well,” Mathews said.
“He’s a different horse now and he settles much better in his races. Earlier in his career he wanted to pull quite a bit.”
Since the New Zealand Cup, Sampson has placed at Otaki and finished a close seventh in the Group 3 Manawatu Cup (2100m). Last weekend he was out of the money in the Group 3 Trentham Stakes (2100m), but drops six kilos on Saturday.
“I’d like to see him about 5th or 6th and one off, he’s quite a big horse and he can then get out and get going before the turn,” Mathews said