Group Two-winning filly Xpression, pictured, is set to tackle Saturday’s Gr.3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings and has pleased trainers Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen since her successful seasonal return at Taupo last month.
On that occasion Xpression defeated Santa Catarina and stablemate Mohaka, who has subsequently franked the form by placing in the Listed Wanganui Guineas (1340m).
“She’s trained on well since her win the other day,” Lowry said.
“We’ve still got to get through a bit of work on Tuesday, but I’m happy with her. Her next run won’t be as easy as her last run.”
In each of her three starts to date, Xpression has been slow from the barriers, forcing the daughter of Showcasing to come from the tail of the field.
“That’s the way she’s raced,” Lowry said.
“I don’t expect her to change her racing pattern, the main goal is the One Thousand Guineas at Riccarton, it’s not this Saturday. It’ll just be a stepping stone.
“It’s likely that she’ll go down to Ashburton for the Barneswood Farm Stakes (Gr.3, 1400m) and then onto the Guineas, but we will get her through Saturday first and then we’ll go from there.”
Lowry believes Xpression, the daughter of a Don Eduardo mare that won over a mile, should have no issue getting over further than Saturday’s 1200m.
“She’s won over 1200m and she relaxes pretty well in her races, but only time will tell I guess.”
Meanwhile, Mohaka is likely to follow a different path and is another candidate for the Gr.1 Gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) on November 17.
“We will probably run her in either the Hawke’s Bay Guineas or at Tauherenikau that following week,” Lowry said.
“She’s doing everything right and is quite a gutsy filly.
“Her effort at Wanganui was really brave and I just thought she got a little bit lost up the straight, where she raced closer to the inside and the other horses in the finish came out wider — they were quite wide apart.
“She’s a good competitor and in a close battle I think she’ll be quite good. If she can improve and can go on top of the ground, and if she can get to the front, then she should be competitive.”
Lowry was critical of the programming options in the Central Districts to plot a path towards the 1000 Guineas.
“I would have liked there to have been a three-year-old set weights and penalties race over 1400m at Wellington before the Thousand Guineas rather than a 1200m set weights and penalties.
“That would have helped. There’s nothing in the Central Districts to align ourselves with the Thousand Guineas and it’s really disappointing that they haven’t been able to sort that out.
“The race at Ashburton is the only race you can go for.”