Wet track conditions hold the biggest concern for New Zealand trainers Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott ahead of Force Of Will’s tilt at the Listed Gold Coast Bracelet (1800m) across the Tasman in Australia on Saturday.
The sunshine state has been under a rain cloud this week, but is starting to fine up, and O’Sullivan is hoping for some improvement in the track, which was rated a Heavy9 on Thursday.
“Her biggest problem is that we want some pretty good ground for her and they have had a lot of rain there,” he said.
The daughter of Power has had two starts in Australia for a sixth-placing in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) and fifth-placing in the Listed Princess Stakes (1630m).
“Her first-up run in the Vinery, the distance was probably a bit beyond her in that company,” O’Sullivan said.
“In her last run the track was certainly a bit more testing than she would have liked it. It was hard to get back and make ground in that part of the track where she was.
“Both runs haven’t been bad, both have received a pass mark, so this weekend will tell a bit more.
“But the wet track conditions aren’t playing into her hand.”
Force Of Will holds a nomination for the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) next month, but O’Sullivan said they will wait to see how she comes through the weekend before deciding whether to press on to the Brisbane classic.
“We will take each run as we go,” he said. “We know where we want to go, but the first time she shows us a sign that it’s not suiting her we will back off.”
O’Sullivan will be trackside on Saturday and he is also looking forward to seeing stablemates Dragon Leap and Spring Heat ahead of their Queensland targets.
“It will be my first trip away, so that will be good,” he said. “We have got Dragon Leap and Spring Heat over there so it will be good to check in with them as well.
“They have had a big trip up from Sydney and it took them awhile to get over the travel, but the reports are good.
“We are going to trial Dragon Leap this coming Tuesday, as long as we are happy with him, and the following Saturday Spring Heat will line-up in a fillies and mares 1200m.”
Recent Australian raider Rocket Spade has returned to New Zealand after his unsuccessful hit-and-run Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) mission.
The Hermitage Thoroughbreds-owned colt will do his future racing in Hong Kong after a pleasing three-year-old term, which culminated with victory in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m).
“Rocket Spade is back in New Zealand and spelling. He will do his future racing in Hong Kong,” O’Sullivan said.
Meanwhile, O’Sullivan will line-up just the one runner at Te Rapa on Saturday, with Cha Siu Bao contesting the Metrowaste Mile (1600m).
The son of Smart Missile ran ninth in the Group 2 Easter Handicap (1600m) at Ellerslie last month, but O’Sullivan said the Slow9 track conditions didn’t suit his charge.
“It was just too wet for him there in the Easter,” he said. “Back to more favourable conditions (Te Rapa rated a Dead5 on Thursday morning) will tell us whether we carry on or he has come to the end of this prep.”