By Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk
Trans-Tasman Group One-winning filly Prowess has returned to fast work at the Cambridge stable of Roger James and Robert Wellwood, in preparation for potential Melbourne spring targets.
A three-year-old daughter of leading sire Proisir, Prowess had a stellar Autumn three-year-old season, picking up five victories on the bounce including back-to-back elite-level wins in the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2050m) at Pukekohe and the Gr.1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill.
Prowess returned to New Zealand the day after her emphatic victory in Sydney, where she was guided by Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Mark Zahra to storm home over Pavitra and Golden Slipper (Gr.1, 1200m) winner Fireburn.
“She had nearly eight weeks out, I was probably disappointed with how she spelled, no reflection on where she spelled, she was getting the red carpet rolled out to her the whole time,” James told TAB Trackside.
“She’s a big girl and when we took the pressure off training her she grew again rather than furnishing, so we’ve given her a pretty quiet seven weeks since she’s been in wanting her to bulk up a little bit.
“He (James’ track rider) was pretty happy, she’s pretty casual and often can be very casual in her fast work, being on the fresh side she probably threw a bit more into it this morning than normal but after a few better gallops she’ll relax right down and she’ll need a mate with her to make her do much.”
James plans to slowly build the athletic filly into a Melbourne spring campaign, with sights set on an early September first-up run in the Gr.1 Memsie Stakes (1400m), which has been cited as a key build-up race for bigger targets in the Victorian calendar.
“She’s done nearly seven weeks of pottering around, and this morning was the first piece of three-quarter pace work she’s done,” he said.
“She ran 600m in 44-and-a-bit, so she’ll progressively do that twice-a-week and increase the distance and pace, and in a month’s time she might be ready for an exhibition gallop or a trial.
“We’re very aware that it’s a big jump from a secluded little group of three-year-old fillies that can get 2000m to all of a sudden into racing with the big boys, so we’re not set in our plans for the spring at this stage.”
Despite Prowess’ standout three-year-old season where she amassed over $1.3 million in stakes with five Group and Listed level wins, James has firm beliefs she will only improve heading into the Autumn next year and a five-year-old spring campaign.
“It’s exciting looking forward to think what she was able to do at three in a relatively immature state,” he said.
“She was at her most professional at her very last start (Vinery Stud Stakes) so there’s a lot of upside to her, but it might not be in the immediate future,” James said.
Prowess’ progression is similar to which James’ had for his former Champion mare Silent Achiever, a two-time Australian group one winner and Cox Plate placegetter.
“The difference between her [Silent Achiever’s] spring and autumn and her mentally and physically, it was amazing to see how she matured in that six months,” James said.
“A lot of four-year-old’s in the spring can be like that, so that’s why we haven’t cemented a programme for her (Prowess) yet.
“We’re very much where we want to be, we’re two months out from a first-up run and it’s nice to be a bit ahead of yourself, because with climatic conditions you can be put back a week at any stage.”