Prise De Fer will continue his hunt for an elusive Group One win in Saturday's Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Te Rapa.
The Jamie Richards-trained Savabeel six-year-old gelding has won seven of his 26 starts but in eight starts at Group One level, three placings have been the best he has done.
However, off placings in the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) and Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings at his most recent starts, Richards believes Prise De Fer can seize his opportunity at the elite level this weekend.
"He's shown throughout his career that he's probably a fraction off the top ones but hopefully he's not that far away and with Opie (Bosson, jockey) being back in, that's a big help," Richards said.
Prise De Fer travelled south in preparation for the Captain Cook Stakes at Trentham before that meeting was abandoned through unsafe track conditions and the two feature races transferred to Te Rapa.
"He seems to have come through it unscathed. He's an older horse and he's done a bit of travelling," Richards said.
"He ate well Saturday night and again Sunday and he did his normal Tuesday work on the grass. Opie rode him over 1200m and he seemed to be full of life, nice and fresh, so I don't think he's taken any harm from it.
"Opie was happy with him. He's ready to run really well. His form at Hastings was top-notch. We've been happy with him all the way through so I can see no reason why he's not a top-three chance."
TAB bookmakers have Prise De Fer as a $5 third favourite for the weight-for-age feature, shortening his price from an opening line of $6.50 in a market headed by Two Illicit at $3.50 and Aegon at $4.20.
"It looks a stronger race than last weekend with the extras going in," Richards said.
"He ran at this meeting last year and ran a really good second behind Coventina Bay over 1400m, so his form at Te Rapa is good."
Safely through Saturday's race, Richards will consider Prise De Fer for the Gr.1 Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.
Bred by Raffles Dancers (NZ) Pty Ltd, Prise De Fer was purchased by David Ellis out of Trelawney Stud's 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock yearling sale draft for $100,000. -NZ Racing Desk