Success in Saturday's Group 3 Winning Edge Presentations 125th Winter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton could set the ball rolling for a start in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) for the Kevin Myers-trained Kick On.
The Per Incanto five-year-old was earlier this week a surprise entry for the October 15 Caulfield feature but Myers first wants to see a bold performance in the Winter Cup before committing to that pathway.
Kick On is one of two runners in the Winter Cup for Myers, alongside Verry Elleegant's stakes-winning older brother Verry Flash, while another stablemate Hooks is an emergency.
Quizzed on the Caulfield Cup, Myers said: “He'll stay all right but the track might trip him up a bit for this one. We'll know after Saturday.”
Myers trained Descarado before that horse was transferred to Sydney trainer Gai Waterhouse to win the 2010 Caulfield Cup and the Wanganui trainer said Kick On compared favourably.
“He's a little bit like him, probably more relaxed though,” Myers said.
Online bookmakers have Kick On as a +380 second favourite for the Winter Cup behind Verry Flash at +350, the pair bringing strong Central Districts form to the race.
Kick On has won two of his last four starts and placed in the other two and Myers was pleased with his 1200m trial win at Foxton last month.
“He went all right. It was just a fitness run but I was happy,” Myers said.
Kick On is out of Myers' 2016 Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m) winner Kick Back, who won over 1500m at the 2013 Grand National carnival at Riccarton.
“She was a light-framed mare whereas this bloke is a lot bigger and stronger. She won the fillies and mares race down there and before that she'd won at Reefton and Greymouth. She had a bit of speed too and she seems to have passed that on,” Myers said.
Verry Flash goes into the Winter Cup as a winner of 10 of his 50 starts, including two of his last four, claiming the Listed Rangitikei Gold Cup (1600m) at Trentham in May and the Whyte Handicap (1600m) at the same track last month.
“It will probably run like a 2000m race and that will suit him. The wetter the track, the bigger chance he's got,” Myers said.
While Myers is chasing his first Winter Cup win, his record is much better in the two feature jumps races, having won the Avon City Ford Sydenham Hurdles (3100m) five times and the Racecourse Hotel & Motor Lodge Koral Steeples (4250m) four times.
Mizzena, He's Ric, Hey Happy, Interllectus and Ringbolt make up his five runners in the Sydenham, while Carnaby, Albaron and Mandalay give him three of the five runners for the Koral, though he rated the Mark Oulaghan-trained West Coast as the horse to beat.
“I'm not sure I can win that. Mark's horse is going to take some beating,” Myers said, adding that all three of his runners could contest the Racecourse Hotel & Motor Lodge Grand National Steeplechase (5600m) at Riccarton seven days later.
“I just want to see them get around safely and pull up sound.”
Myers was looking forward to the return of Interllectus in the Sydenham Hurdle, the Intello eight-year-old having his first start since suffering a tendon injury two years ago.
“We'd have just liked him to have had a run first. He was in three races at meetings that got abandoned but that shouldn't matter,” he said.
Myers won't finalise his team for the Hospitality NZ Canterbury Grand National Hurdles (4200m) at Riccarton on Wednesday till after Saturday's racing but suggested Happy Star, who tackles the Gold Club 1800 on Saturday, was likely, while Kiddo, who tackles the same flat race on Saturday, was another likely to contest a jumping race later in the week.
Of the rest of his team, Myers was looking for a bold run from Aljay in the Vernon & Vazey Truck Parts 1400.
“He's come back a lot stronger,” he said, adding that his son Jason was confident of a bold debut from Carignan, a Roc De Cambes gelding he shares in the ownership of, in the Gavelhouse.com 61 Lots Close 8 August 1200.
Myers said the cost to travel horses to Christchurch for the carnival had deterred a lot of North Island horses from making the trip, suggesting he was facing a significant loss by attending unless results went his way.
“The cost has got most of the people now, even myself,” he said.
“I've always supported Riccarton and had a bit of luck there so I'm happy to go but you can see why people are tightening up. It's over $2000 to travel a horse from Waikato to Riccarton and $1700 from Palmerston North. If you're not running first or second, you're not getting that back.”