An untimely hoof injury curtailed Keith Dryden's plans to set promising mare Vinolass on a path toward stakes company.
After three easy country wins from as many starts, Dryden was ready to raise the bar but a paddock accident meant the four-year-old will have been off the scene for 11 months when she returns in the Arrowfield Advantage Handicap (1100m) at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
"I was hopeful, originally, of getting to a black type race to try to get some breeding status behind her,'' Dryden said.
"She was going really well and I spelled her and she hurt her foot in the paddock. Some of the hoof came away and we had to give it time to grow back."
It's notable that Vinolass hasn't trialled officially since her runaway 5-1/2 length win at the Sapphire Coast back on March 31 last year but Dryden said she has contested a jump out at home.
He's wary that she'll be a little underdone for her first city assignment but is keen to get her started.
"She's a nice mare but I'd think she'd possibly need the run after such a break,'' he said.
"I gave her a solid jump out, it was only here on the synthetic track over 800m. I'm happy with the way she is going but whatever she does she'll improve.
"Just to the eye she does look a little bit big. I let her stroll along some three-quarter work on Monday morning and the bloke who rode her work said she was awesome."
Dryden originally had Nash Rawiller booked for Vinolass, $3.20 with TAB on Tuesday, but snapped up Zac Lloyd when Rawiller elected to take a suspension early.
He's pleased the mare has drawn a soft gate and one that shouldn't force Lloyd into having to set the pace.
"I wouldn't like her to end up in front, I'd like to try to ride her just off the pace a little bit,'' he said.
"When she won on Black Opal day she ran the last 600m in 32.42 so she can let down when she has to."
Stablemate Acheson has surprised Dryden a little with his two seconds from as many starts given he was initially thought of as a horse that might excel once he reaches a mile.
The gelding was beaten as a $1.40 chance at Wagga on Australia Day and while the Farnan Yearlings Selling Now Plate (1200m), a $100,000 Super Maiden, is a stronger challenge the trainer is starting to warm to him.
"He's a nice little horse, I quite like him,'' he said.
"He's been a handful, he's taken some time, but once he settles down and gets it all right between the ears he'll be a nice horse.
"He caught me off guard first-up, he hadn't shown me a whole lot on the track but I've taken him to the races twice and he's raced very well.
"I think he will turn into a nice horse and I'd like him to just run a good race."
Tips and race by race preview by Ray Hickson for Wednesday's Warwick Farm meeting
Selections based on a soft to heavy track.
Race 1 - 2:20PM RACING AND SPORTS PLATE (1300 METRES)
6 Tartaglia made a handy debut behind what looks a smart youngster running into third at Rosehill. Seemed to handle the sting out of the ground okay there and an extra 200m should be in his favour. Has to get through a bit softer track this time but looks hard to beat.
Dangers: 4 Linebacker should pose a threat on debut on the back of a strong trial win where stablemate Getafix finished third. That horse has since won. Imagine he'll look to sit up on the speed and if he runs up to his trial he'll go close. 2 Counterpart ran a slashing race in the Breeders' Plate at his only start back in September, running on from last to be beaten 2.6 lengths. Has trialled and is one to keep an eye one. 1 Bosustow made some ground in the same race as Tartaglia to finish a couple of lengths behind that horse. Open to improvement if he likes the ground.
How to play it: Tartaglia WIN; Trifecta 6/1,2,4/1,2,4.
Race 2 - 2:55PM FARNAN YEARLINGS SELLING NOW PLATE (1200 METRES)
4 Ducasse won't know himself in a maiden after tackling Group 2 and 3 races for most of his career so far. Beaten under two lengths by Tom Kitten at 1300m fresh last prep and ended the spring with a close third at G2 level over a mile. Nice trial, handles wet ground and with even luck should take beating.
Dangers: 11 Redbreast trialled very well in her first hitout then possibly not as strong in the second when run down late over 1050m. Pushes forward from the wide gate and has to be respected. 2 Detendu made a handy debut at this track on Australia Day where he was run down after sitting on the speed. Fitter for it, won a trial on a soft 7 and should be in this for a long way. 7 Listentozou was a shade disappointing here last start when solid in betting, if you forgive that and go on previous two runs this prep he's worth another chance.
How to play it: Ducasse WIN; Trifecta 4/2,7,11/2,7,11
Race 3 - 3:30PM EARTHLIGHT FIRST YEARLINGS HANDICAP (2400 METRES)
1 Oakfield Wallaby backs up after a solid third over 1800m last week where she was strong through the line and looking for more ground. She has a good winning record and while up quickly in trip she should be in the finish again.
Dangers: 5 California Grass was too good at Wyong two runs back before an even fourth over this trip at Rosehill. Back in class, likes the wet a bit and sure to be competitive. 4 Suit Of Armour is coming through the grades well with his maiden win followed by a griding Class 1 win at Kembla Grange over 2000m. Bit stronger now in this class but hard to ignore the horse on the way up. 6 Yarrawonga revelled in heavy 10 conditions to win easily at Kembla in a Class 1 before leading and boxing on okay over 2400m at Rosehill back on a good track. Likely leader proven in the ground and is a definite chance.
How to play it: Oakfield Wallaby WIN
Race 4 - 4:05PM THE ARROWFIELD ADVANTAGE HANDICAP (1100 METRES)
3 Euros might have a good chance to break through in a race with plenty of question marks. Likes some give in the track and should have finished a bit closer when placed at Canterbury last time after being held up on the fence. Entitled to run a big race.
Dangers: 7 Opito Ballerina is close to a peak after two runs back and she closed off well at Gosford last time for third beaten half a length. Seems to act well on wet tracks and finds James McDonald. Has to be respected. 5 Vinolass is unbeaten in three starts in the country, all last season, and resumes with one jump out and no official trials. She's been dominant in her three wins and one of those was on a heavy track. Keep safe. 4 Tycoon Jenny is an interesting runner having her first start for Gai & Adrian, previously trained by Greg Eurell. Thought she was disappointing in latest trial but be wary if she's solid in the market.
How to play it: Euros EACH-WAY
Race 5 - 4:40PM JAMES SQUIRE HANDICAP (1400 METRES)
10 About A Girl is a huge market watch at her local debut for Chris Waller and JMac. Favourite when winning her only NZ start back in October and she's not been exposed in two trials so hard to judge her. Strikes a wide open race. No surprise if she's in the finish.
Dangers: 7. Carpaccio backed up a debut win at Gosford with a sound second behind Black Duke, who has won again since, at Wyong. May have to go back from the draw but looks promising and well worth including. 3 Soldier Of Rome led them up and while no match for the winner boxed on okay for third at Rosehill when resuming at 1100m. Straight up in trip but the form is good with the runner-up winning on Saturday. Has claims. 4 Turned Down was solid in betting at his debut and got the job done with a tough win at Canterbury from on the speed. Could go on with it.
How to play it: About A Girl WIN
Race 6 - 5:15PM OLE KIRK FIRST YEARLINGS HANDICAP (1400 METRES)
5 Romeo's Choice is racing in top form and should be in the finish again after scoring an easy on pace win here on Australia Day. Good stats with the sting out of the track and he can only run well again.
Dangers: 10 Venelope is lightly raced and resumes back in class on what she tackled at the end of last prep. Won here a year ago on a soft 6, her only win to date, and she bears close watching first-up down on the limit. Shown promise and any support would be encouraging. 8 Stylised ran on from well back to run into second behind Romeo's Choice at his first run back from a break. Fitter for it and could easily be an improver. 4 Spaltet won over a mile here in September and also comes through that race where he finished midfield after turning at the tail. Will only be an improver with an extra 100m on his side.
How to play it: Romeo's Choice EACH-WAY.
Race 7 - 5:50PM TAB HANDICAP (1200 METRES)
1 Huon is racing so well at present and just missed in a similar race at Canterbury a couple of weeks ago when favourite. Has form in all conditions, draws okay and gets some weight relief. Can't see him doing anything else but running another big race.
Dangers: 2 Introducing returns as a gelding and comes back from contesting stakes races through the bulk of his career. Did win on a heavy at this track on debut and scored a nice enough trial win leading in. Keep safe. 3 Silentsar ran a cheeky raced when third at Wyong first-up behind Royal Merchant then drew wide and that didn't held his cause at the Gold Coast. Honest and a wet track doesn't harm his chances. Worth another look. 7 Oakfield Duke hi the line when it was all over third-up at Canterbury and looks ready to find his best. Some sting out is a plus for him and while yet to win at 1200m he gets his chance here.
How to play it: Huon EACH-WAY.