Jo Gordon is used to the jibes about her no-rush approach to training but the Southland conditioner could yet have the last laugh when she saddles up a nine-year-old and a 10-year-old in Saturday's Gr.3 Winning Edge Presentations Winter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton.
Veteran gallopers Shakti and The Gordonian will don the Gordon colours and both are primed to reward their trainer's patience.
"I put no pressure on my horses down home. I've got some nice young ones coming up for the new season and the guys are always giving me a hard time saying 'Jo, they aren't young ones - they are four now'," Gordon said.
"I always feel if you are patient and look after them, they'll keep going for you. The Gordonian raced as a two-year-old and he'll go around for us in the Winter Cup at 10."
Gordon was rapt with the leadup efforts of both her charges in last month's Oamaru Cup (1600m), The Gordonian sticking on well for fourth after leading, while Shakti finished on for an eye-catching sixth.
"I just wish their draws were the other way around," Gordon said after the front-running The Gordonian drew wide in 19 and Shakti drew barrier one.
"The Gordonian definitely races best going forward and if he'd drawn one he’d be heading towards the front but obviously we won't be doing that from 19. Shakti lately seems to struggle to keep up early so he'll drop out and hopefully be coming home hard at the end.
"The field is very even and I think it will be the horse that gets the best run that will be winning it. Nashville probably is the one standout horse but at the weights, it could be anyone's race."
Gordon continued her trip north after the Oamaru meeting and has had her horses stabled with Dean Weastell in Prebbleton in the leadup to the Winter Cup meeting.
"They took a week to settle in but this week they've really been enjoying it. They are embracing it - eating well and working well," Gordon said.
"I'm pleased I didn't go home after Oamaru. It's an eight-hour trip from Invercargill to Christchurch and this way it's just given them a better leadup to the meeting."
Gordon is leaning slightly towards The Gordonian as the better of her two chances but is optimistic both will run well.
"The Gordonian's three leadup races, you couldn't fault any of them. I'm really happy with him but I'm hoping we get a bit of rain for him, just to make sure it's a loose track," Gordon said.
"But just from that draw, we're going to have to come up with a new gameplan and ride him accordingly. Shakti's form has been good too. He's just been a horse that needed time but I can't believe it's taken him so long.
"He's a neat horse to ride and he covers the ground well. He copped a clod in the eye halfway down the straight at Oamaru and it stunned him for a bit before he picked himself up and got home late. He just needs an uninterrupted run from the back."
Gordon, who enjoyed her best-ever season with 21 wins in 2017-18, will also produce Castledale eight-year-old Shaara in the feature sprint, the Norwood Farm Machinery Premier Sprint (1200m), after a fast-finishing fourth at Oamaru last start.
"I was happy with him at Oamaru. He couldn't get a run but once he got clear running he really hit the line well. These days he's probably better suited to 1400m but the 1200m at Riccarton plays more like 1400m, especially in winter," Gordon said.
Shaara is likely to tackle the 1400m open handicap at Riccarton on Saturday week, while The Gordonian and Shakti are both set to back-up in the Christchurch Casino Winter Classic (1800m) the same day.
"Shakti might be better suited to that," Gordon said. - NZ Racing Desk