Group One-winning mare Devise will travel to Melbourne on Wednesday ahead of a shot at Saturday's Australian Cup.
Last-start Group One winner Devise will run in the A$1.5 million Australian Cup at Flemington on Saturday.
The daughter of Darci Brahma won the Haunui Farm WFA Classic at Hastings late last month, after which her trainer Shaune Ritchie was tossing up between Melbourne and this weekend’s Gr. 1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes at Ellerslie.
“She’ll take her place in the Australian Cup,” the Cambridge trainer confirmed to www.theinformant.co.nz this afternoon.
“There’s an uncertain weather forecast for Auckland this week, while it’s going to be a fine week in Melbourne and she’ll get a good track at Flemington on Saturday.
“It looks like there’ll be 12 or 13 runners in the Cup, and we feel that she’s about to produce her peak performance for this campaign in her next start, so it’ll give us a good line on where we sit in terms of a possible Australian spring campaign.
“She’ll fly over on Wednesday night, and we’ve been able to secure Chad Schofield to ride her. He’s a Cox Plate-winning jockey, and he rode four winners in Hong Kong last week, so he’s an in-form rider.
“Hopefully we can get a nice draw and then find out how good we are. It’s exciting. We’re relying on her good form around Bonneval, who obviously was very effective in Melbourne in the spring.
“We realise it’s not easy, but she deserves a crack at it. She’s done terrifically well since Hastings – it was six weeks between runs leading into that, and she’s bounced out of it superbly. We really expect her to bring her A-game this weekend, as she’ll need to. But even a third placing would do a huge amount of good for her broodmare career.”
Meanwhile, Ritchie is keeping a watchful eye on Auckland weather ahead of in-form stablemate Excalibur’s shot at the Gr. 1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup.
“He’s a horse who’s very weather-dependent – if he strikes a track that’s heavy or on the worse side of slow, he just isn’t able to perform at all,” he said.
“We’ve decided we won’t run him if it’s a significantly rain-affected. It was in very good order on Saturday and it’s a fine and warm day today, so the track will probably be able to take a reasonable amount of rain, but we’ll just keep an eye on it through the week.
“He’s done very well and deserves his spot in the race – he’s won four of his last five, and the way he switches off and can sustain a long run, it looks like the two miles will be ideal.
“He might be one year away from his peak, but we’ve been in that situation in the past and taken the cautious approach and then the horse might not come back as well in the next preparation.”