Multiple stakes winner Chance To Dance will further his Group 1 preparation at Tauranga on Friday.
The well-travelled eight-year-old has won two of his three New Zealand starts and is progressing well toward the Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.
The Irish-bred Chance To Dance was successful first-up in the Listed Karaka Classic (1600m) at Pukekohe before he was caught three wide without cover when beaten in the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hawke’s Bay.
The son of Teofilo bounced back at Ellerslie last month to beat Mime in the Group 3 OMF Stakes (2000m) and has purposefully been kept fresh since.
“We wanted to give him a bit of time as an older horse and he appreciates a quieter lifestyle,” said Jamie Richards, who trains Chance To Dance with Stephen Autridge.
“He looks terrific and we were going to trial him at Te Aroha, but the track was a bit firm so he’ll have a gallop at Tauranga with Scrutinize.”
Now a five-year-old, Scrutinize showed encouraging form at three and was a dual winner and runner-up in the Group 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m).
“He had a tendon injury and had 18 months off and he’s in good condition now,” Richards said.
Scrutinize hasn’t raced since he was out of the money in the Group 2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) 22 months ago.
“We’ve taken it slowly with him and he trialled well at Matamata last month,” Richards said.
Meanwhile, Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner Embellish and Age Of Fire, who was runner-up in the Riccarton feature, have returned to their Matamata quarters.
“They’re in good shape and both colts will run in the 1400m race at Ellerslie on Boxing Day with Embellish going to the Karaka Million 3YO Classic and Age Of Fire to the Levin Classic,” Richards said.