Cambridge trainer Roger James will produce Concert Hall in Saturday's Gr.3 Powerworx Taranaki Cup (1800m) at New Plymouth as a springboard to a campaign in Melbourne, just days after the death of his last star performer in Australia, Silent Achiever.
Concert Hall became James' first Group One winner since Silent Achiever when she won the Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day and he will now attempt to guide her to similar Australian success.
"Make no mistake, she's no Silent Achiever but she is a good mare in her own right," James said of the Joan Egan bred and owned mare.
"It's taken her till six to fully mature and her formline is something we're proud of. She's in tremendous order and we're looking forward to the race. The 1800m is ideal and set weights and penalties, like with Melody Belle last week, suits her so well."
Under the set weights and penalties conditions, Concert Hall carries 56kg despite her last-start Group One win, getting in 1kg lighter than Polzeath, rated 24 points inferior.
"From this, all going well she can go to the Australian Cup but she's got to show she warrants that trip," James said.
The Gr.1 Australian Cup (2000m) is run at Flemington on March 6.
TAB bookmakers have Concert Hall, who was born and raised at Trelawney Stud, as a $1.75 favourite for the Taranaki Cup with stablemate Sherrif on the third line of betting at $12.
"It's been a long time since he's won but he's never dodged good races nor been far away. On his work, he can run a competitive race," James said. -NZ Racing Desk