Shaun Clotworthy was quick to recognise Annie Okay's potential - now he's hoping she's swift enough to claim a stakes win at Ellerslie on Saturday.
The Byerley Park trainer will produce Battle Paint filly Annie Okay as one of the leading contenders for Saturday's Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial (1500m) at Ellerslie, her last-start third placing to subsequent Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) winner Media Sensation a guide to her credentials.
"She's always shown reasonable ability and taken the right steps forward on raceday," Clotworthy said.
"I've been rapt with both her races so far. She won her maiden well and then stepped up for her stakes placing last start. She's performed admirably and the form looks good out of it too."
TAB bookmakers opened Annie Okay as a $5.50 third favourite for the Trevor Eagle Memorial behind Rocket Fuel at $3.50 and Jip Jip Rock at $4.50 as Clotworthy and his wife Emma shoot for their first stakes win as trainers.
Annie Okay was less than half a length from Rocket Fuel when the pair placed in the Gr.3 Soliloquy Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie behind Media Sensation and Clotworthy was pleased with her progress since that race.
"We gave her a good break between races and she's done well. She's an easy horse around the stable," he said.
"She's got to deal with a bit of an awkward draw on Saturday, but she's been hitting the line well so we'll probably ride her back. Shaun McKay got off her last time and said a mile would be up her alley so the extra distance should suit her too."
Clotworthy, who ranked Annie Okay as one of the most promising horses he has trained, was hoping for another encouraging performance as he looked ahead to summer three-year-old fillies targets.
"There are some unexposed horses in there so it's a difficult race to assess but we think she can go another good race," he said.
"She's bright and happy and we're looking forward to seeing how she steps up. We'll see how she goes on Saturday but we'd like to have a look at some of those fillies races coming up. We'll see how she operates here but, as I said, I don't think the mile will be any problem for her."
The Clotworthys will send Diesel, a runner-up at last Saturday's Counties Cup meeting, to Otaki on Friday and will also produce Florence Ivy, Model Aye and Nopele at Ellerslie on Saturday's undercard. - NZ Racing Desk