A start in the Magic Millions Guineas will be on the line for promising three-year-old Ellsberg when he lines up for just his fourth start at Rosehill.
After winning on debut at Warwick Farm last month, Ellsberg has notched successive placings, including a third in the Group Three Spring Stakes at Newcastle.
He will tackle the Precise Air Handicap (1500m) at his home track on Saturday and co-trainer Gerald Ryan says he needs to win to book his passage to the Gold Coast.
“He is a Magic Millions horse, whether he goes there or not we’ll decide after Saturday,” Ryan said.
“But he would have to win on Saturday to get in.
“He has always shown me ability and he’s been given time.”
Ellsberg is majority-owned by Aquis Farm which stood his sire Spill The Beans, who died prematurely after a promising start at stud.
Ryan trained Spill The Beans to win three Group races, including the 2016 Eskimo Prince Stakes in which he defeated subsequent Group One winner Le Romain.
The stable also has loftier ambitions for Cultural Amnesia and Zoumist who clash in the opening race.
Cultural Amnesia is also nominated for the Kensington meeting on Friday but is likely to head to Rosehill.
He had form around stakes performers Thermosphere and Rock My Wand as a juvenile, however, after resuming with a lacklustre performance at the provincials in August, Ryan moved swiftly to make a change.
“He decided he was a colt and he didn’t want to play. He is no longer a colt,” Ryan said.
After being gelded, Cultural Amnesia returned with a win at Rosehill and Ryan is hoping he can continue to go through the grades.
“If he found some good form during the summer it would be too late for the autumn but you might think about Queensland with him,” he said.
The stable also has a healthy opinion of Zoumist, who showed ability at her initial preparation which included a luckless fifth to subsequent Coolmore Stud Stakes winner September Run.
She resumed with a strong win at Gosford when she had to change course in the straight and scored with something in hand.
“She has taken a little bit of time but she is a nice filly,” Ryan said.
“She overcame difficulties to win the other day. I know this is a step up in grade but bigger track, stepping up to 1300 metres, still fresh, she can run a race.”
If Zoumist can continue to develop, Ryan and co-trainer Sterling Alexiou will look at targeting some black-type fillies’ races in the autumn.