The Roger James and Robert Wellwood-trained Concert Hall is thriving this preparation and punters have again warmed to the four-year-old mare, installing her the $2.30 favourite for the Gr.3 Wentwood Grange Cuddle Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on Saturday.
The daughter of Savabeel couldn’t have been more impressive in winning at Tauranga and Matamata respectively in her past two starts and has pleased her conditioners as she steps-up to Group company.
“She’s really well,” James said. “She is a good worker at home and her work has been right up to the mark.
“I think she looks well placed. It (the step-up to stakes company) has come at a nice time in her preparation and I just hope we don’t get too much rain.”
The Trentham track was rated a Dead6 on Friday, with scattered showers forecast.
James said Concert Hall was on trial for a tilt at the Gr.1 Fiber Fresh NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha on April 6.
“As always with horses you take one step at a time but certainly the Breeders’ Stakes is on the radar,” James said.
Meanwhile, James is confident his Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai NZ Oaks (2400m) contender Elate has bounced back from a heart fibrillation suffered when trailing home the field in the Gr.3 Sunline Vase (2100m) at Ellerslie last start.
“She has had a lovely preparation and I was reasonably confident going into the Sunline Vase where she fibrillated. That’s behind us hopefully and her work in between has been as good as any staying three-year-old filly I have had, probably barring Giovana,” James said.
“I think she will get the trip no problem, but she is dependent on pretty good footing and I wouldn’t want it any worse than the track is now.”
James and Wellwood will also send out last-start Wanganui winner In Fashion in the TAB March Madness Cup (1200m) for two-year-olds where the daughter of Showcasing has drawn barrier one.
“I think she can use the barrier to a degree,” James said.
“She will be a better filly when she goes 1400m and quite possibly a mile.”
In Fashion holds a nomination for the Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) on March 30, but will first have to prove her worth against a strong field which includes the highly-touted Te Akau juvenile Equinox.
“She’ll have to win or go close, but I am confident that she will better going further,” James said. – NZ Racing Desk