Roger James would love to start Cheaperthandivorce in Saturday's Listed Mode Technology Feilding Gold Cup (2100m) at Awapuni, however, he has one major hurdle to overcome before being sure his mare makes the trip from Cambridge.
“I need to find a jockey for (the) Feilding. Unfortunately, it's a big challenge,” he said.
If Cheaperthandivorce makes it to Awapuni, she will be a leading chance if she recaptures her 2021-22 form.
The New Zealand five-year-old was one of the handicap stars of last summer, winning the Group 3 Thompson Handicap (1600m) and the Group 3 Waikato Cup (2400m), finishing second in the Group 2 City of Auckland Cup (2400m), and third in the Group 3 Counties Cup (2100m).
She finished 11th of 14 when resuming in a 1600m open handicap on heavy ground at Te Rapa on September 30, and James says she has improved since then.
“I was a touch disappointed with her run at Te Rapa, but she's not a real fan of bad tracks,” said James, who trains in partnership with Robert Wellwood.
“Her work was very good this morning so I think she's coming to hand okay.”
If Cheaperthandivorce doesn't contest the Feilding Gold Cup, James said she would wait for the Group 3 Jarden Stakes (2050m) under weight-for-age conditions on November 1 at Pukekohe.
James hasn't decided yet whether Cheaperthandivorce would once again tackle the summer cups races or instead head towards middle distance weight-for-age races.
“She's going to be getting up in the weights, which is part of the reason I'm considering Pukekohe on Tuesday,” he said.
“It could be that she's more of a handicap mare, but the trouble is they can get handicapped out of it eventually. Whether she can make that transition to be a good weight-for-age horse we've yet to find out.”
Meanwhile, James still thinks his three-year-old filly Prowess can win the Group 1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) on November 12 despite losing her unbeaten record in the Group 3 Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) at Te Rapa last Saturday.
Prowess finished third at Te Rapa, 3.5 lengths behind runaway winner and current odds-on 1000 Guineas favourite Legarto, but James said she had no luck at all in running.
“There was nothing wrong with the run. She copped interference down the back, on the point of the turn, and halfway down the straight,” he said.
“It's a forget run, really. We didn't get a true line on her.”
Also out of luck this spring has been Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) winner Pinarello. Sent to Sydney for the spring carnival, he needed the run over an unsuitably-short distance first-up when eighth in the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m), and then found the track too wet when finishing fifth in the Group 3 Craven Plate (1800m) behind Cascadian.
He will have one more run this spring, in the AUD$750,000 Rosehill Gold Cup (2000m) under handicap conditions at Rosehill Gardens this Saturday.
“The tracks have been right against him and it's still heavy over there,” James said. “He worked on the course proper at Randwick this morning and it was very good, but the track was absolutely bottomless.
“I'd like to see a better track at Rosehill on Saturday, that's for sure.”
James and Wellwood could have runners at three venues on Saturday. In addition to possibly starting Cheaperthandivorce at Awapuni and Pinarello at Rosehill, he is set to line up Achieve, Hasstobeyou, and Time And Again at Matamata.
Achieve was not far off the best three-year-old fillies in New Zealand, earning placings in the Group 3 Eulogy Stakes (1600m), Group 2 Fillies Classic (2000m), and Group 3 Sunline Vase (2100m).
She produced a nice effort for third when resuming over 1400m at Te Rapa on September 30 and will contest a Rating 75 1600m event at Matamata.
“Achieve will be looking at black type racing very quickly, and I think she'll be up to it too,” James said.
“We'll work out a programme after she runs on Saturday.”
Hasstobeyou, who is down to run in the Rating 75 1200m event at Matamata, finished 10th of 11 in the same race as Achieve on September 30 and James said she would need to settle better in running to be a chance this weekend.
Time And Again finished fifth when resuming at Ruakaka on October 5 and will contest a 1600m maiden at Matamata.
“She's very lightly raced and over a mile she's going to win one pretty quickly. I thought her first up run was very good and she just lacked luck everywhere.”