A drying Wanganui track and the prospect of a holding surface is Cambridge trainer Andrew Forsman's main reservation with talented mare Tomelilla as she prepares for a shot at successive stakes wins on Saturday.
Fine weather has seen the Wanganui track improve to a heavy 10 rating and further improvement seems likely with no rain forecast before Saturday's Listed Ag Challenge Stakes (1590m).
Tomelilla secured her first stakes win in the Gr.3 Rotorua Stakes (1400m) three weeks ago on a testing heavy 11 track and Forsman reported she had trained on well since.
"She's going great and she's really good in herself," said Forsman, who trains in partnership with Hall of Famer Murray Baker.
"The only worry is the different track conditions and how she copes with that. We've taken horses to Wanganui before thinking they would handle it and came away disappointed.
"At Rotorua, there was rain on the day and it was a loose, heavy track but it's not going to be like that at Wanganui. She's very well, but that's the unknown factor."
A winner of six of her 21 starts, Tavistock filly Tomelilla has won three times at 1600m and Forsman expected the extra distance to suit his mare on Saturday.
"She's been a slow-maturing mare up to now and you'd never know how she'd come through from race to race, but she's much stronger this preparation and she's holding her form really well," he said.
Forsman said no plans for Tomelilla had been made for the rest of the winter.
Accompanying Tomelilla south are exciting two-year-old Qiji Express, who tackles the Listed John Turkington Forestry Castletown Stakes (1200m), and last-start Rotorua runner-up Ambitious Winner.
"Qiji Express was impressive last start, but that was a dead track and he faces a wetter track on Saturday," Forsman said.
"It's just a matter of him jumping and putting himself right there on speed and then hopefully getting through the ground. Even if he can run third, it's a black-type placing and hopefully that can set him up for the spring.
"We think he's a Guineas horse for next season so this will probably be his lot for the season because he has to have a break sometime.
"A lot of what we do with him will be determined by how he goes on Saturday and we'll get an idea of where to race him because a lot of those Guineas lead-up races are run on rain-affected tracks." - NZ Racing Desk.