A successful first campaign will draw to a close on Thursday for future Group One hope Up The Anti when the promising three-year-old is stepped up in grade on his home track at Otaki.
His form against lesser opposition suggests he’s more than capable of making his mark in stronger company and can prove that point in the Gr.3 Elsdon Park Wellington Stakes (1600m).
A well-related son of Divine Prophet, Up The Anti will spearhead a strong team for trainers Johno Benner and Hollie Wynyard at their local fixture.
“He hasn’t done a lot wrong and is a no-nonsense horse who puts himself on the pace and he has a little Derby (Gr.1, 2400m) feel about him,” Benner said.
With that in mind, Up The Anti is likely to head for the spelling paddock after Thursday’s assignment.
“It’s probably his grand final for this preparation and he can have a couple of weeks on the grass and then hopefully set him for the Derby,” Benner said.
Raced by breeders John and Di Bowbyes, Up The Anti is the first foal of the Gr.2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) winner Bisou Bisou and has put together the tidy record of two wins from four appearances.
“He’s probably the pace in the race and he gives 100 per cent and should give the race a good shake,” Benner said.
Up The Anti is coming off a last-start success at Trentham and Matthew Cameron will again guide his fortunes.
Younger stablemate Full Force also looms a strong debut chance in the Vets On Riverbank 2YO (1200m) off the back of three trial wins.
Ryan Elliot rode him in his latest appearance in a 900m heat at Taupo and he will take the reins on the son of Cosmic Force.
“He has done nothing wrong in his trials and looks to have a fair bit of ability,” Benner said.
“You never really know with these two-year-olds what you are running against until after the fact, but we’re happy with him. He gets away quickly and will make his own luck.”
Pride Of Aspen and Colorado Silver will step out in the Riverbank Construction Handicap (1400m) and the UZA Bus Handicap (1300m) respectively and are considered genuine future black type contenders.
The former will benefit from Lily Sutherland’s two-kilogram claim and the Pride Of Dubai mare has had two trial outings to ready her for her return.
“She’ll be charging late and she’s got a good course record and first-up stats,” Benner said.
Three of Pride Of Aspen’s four wins have been posted on the track and she’s also been successful three times off a break.
Colorado Silver, another of Cameron’s mounts, had no luck when she was unplaced when she resumed during the Hawke’s Bay carnival.
“She was knocked from to pillar to post and we had to regroup after that. She shows a lot at home and she’s ready, but has a sticky gate to overcome,” Benner said.
The stable will also be represented by Bent Out Of Shape and Head First in the Racing This Time On TV Facebook Maiden (1200m).
The former has the benefit of race day experience after his runner-up finish at the first time of asking at Tauherenikau earlier this month while Head First placed in her only trial ahead of her debut.