Chance To Dance’s Group 1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) campaign steps up a gear at Trentham on Saturday.
The Teofilo nine-year-old tackles the Group 3 Barneswood Farm Trentham Stakes (2100m), looking to claim his first win in more than a year.
That last win came in the Group 3 OMF Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie in November 2017 under weight-for-age conditions but the Jamie Richards-trained stayer reverts to set weights and penalties on Saturday and looks well placed as a 103-rated galloper in just 3kg above the minimum.
“I’m not sure really where we’re at with him. It’s been hard with a horse like him, high up in the handicaps and having to claim to get weight off his back,” Richards said.
“He’s not working as well as he was this time last year either but he’s a year older and he’s a lot more relaxed, so maybe he’s just taking a bit longer to come up.
“He’s well in himself though and he gets in well at the weights on Saturday. He enjoys the chip out of the ground now as he’s a bit older too. It’s an important race for him this weekend because he’ll have this and then go to the Avondale Cup and then the Auckland Cup.
“To warrant going there, he’s going to have to put his hand up and run well.”
A winner of nine of his 35 starts, Chance To Dance began his career in Ireland, winning five times before he was sent to Australia, winning at Caulfield over 2400m before he was sold to Fortuna Syndications and joined Te Akau, placing in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at his first start for his new stable before that race was declared void.
He finished fifth in the re-run before heading to New Zealand, where he won the Listed Karaka Classic (1600m) last season at his first start here.
Online bookmakers have Chance To Dance at $41 for the Auckland Cup, in which he has 56kg, but opened him as a $2.60 favourite for the Trentham Stakes.