After eye-catching runs over shorter distances in recent weeks, the connections of Elate and Musical Blues are looking forward to seeing them step up to 2000 metres in the Gr. 2 Valachi Downs Royal Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.

Savabeel filly Elate was an impressive maiden winner at Taupo back in September, then finished close up in sixth in her next three starts behind the likes of Media Sensation and Dawn Patrol.

She took things up a notch in the Gr. 3 Eulogy Stakes two weeks ago, finishing strongly for second behind Queen Of Diamonds.

“Elate ran a super race for second in the Eulogy, and the winner (Queen of Diamonds) is a quality filly,” co-trainer Robert Wellwood said.

“Our filly is certainly looking for more of a staying trip, and she’ll get that for the first time on New Year’s Day. We’re really looking forward to seeing her step up over that sort of distance.”

Wellwood and senior training partner Roger James, plus jockey Ryan Elliot, will be out to complete a black-type double for the Ellerslie carnival. They teamed up with Hypnos to win the Listed Uncle Remus Stakes on Boxing Day.

Musical Blues lined up in the Gr. 2 Eight Carat Classic later on that Boxing Day programme, running home powerfully in the last 200 metres for a close fourth.

“She’s learning to settle and learning to race, and her performance in the Eight Carat was very encouraging,” co-trainer Andrew Scott said.

“She’s bred to stay all day, and she’s now racing in a manner that suggests a middle-distance is going to suit her. We’re expecting another very competitive performance in the Royal Stakes.”

The TAB’s market for the Royal Stakes has Elate at $8.80 and Musical Blues $11. The first two finishers in the Eight Carat, Pinmedown and House Of Cartier, are the clear favourites at $3.50 and $4 respectively.