Trainers ponder next move with Prowess

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  • February 23, 2023
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Roger James and Robert Wellwood have one confirmed Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) contender and will take their time before deciding if they double their hand.

The Cambridge trainers have the progressive Mark Twain locked in for the March 4 three-year-old feature, but have yet to make a call on the immediate future of their outstanding filly Prowess.

The daughter of Proisir followed up her Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) victory with an explosive display to claim the Gr.2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa on Saturday.

Prowess’ performance and the top-class winning efforts of Sharp ‘N’ Smart in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) and Imperatriz in the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) provided a memorable weekend highlights package.

“She appears to have come through her run very well, which is good, and it was a great day of racing,” James said.

He will keep a close eye on the performances of other Derby hopefuls in Saturday’s Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Pukekohe before confirming Prowess’ future path.

“I just want to get this weekend out of the way and watch what happens in the three-year-old race,” James said.

“The Derby is a consideration, but there are a lot of options for her and I’m not going to be rushed into a decision on it.”

Prowess made her first appearance beyond 1600m at Te Rapa and her ability to quicken so impressively after sitting handy to the speed is another major asset.

“She was really good and it’s definitely a big advantage, she is an exciting filly,” James said.

Prowess is currently the $3.80 second favourite for the Derby with stablemate Mark Twain at $14.

“He’s a real two-miler in the making. He’s always showed promise, but he’s taken a bit of making,” James said.

“He’s a little bit one dimensional and can’t get his legs together early, but he winds up very well.”

A son of Shocking, Mark Twain has won two of his four starts and most recently at Hastings came from the tail of the field to defeat his older rivals over 2100m.

The OTI-raced gelding has an abundance of stamina in his pedigree and is a half-brother to Pentathlon, who won five races and was runner-up in the Gr.2 Wellington Cup (3200m) and also placed in the Gr.2 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) and Gr.3 Lexus Stakes (2500m).

Their dam Pinders Prize is also a half-sister to the Gr.2 New Zealand Cup (3200m) winner and Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m) runner-up Pentathon.

Meanwhile, Mark Twain’s barnmate and accomplished stayer Dionysus will take his next step on Saturday toward a likely crack at the Gr.2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m).

“He’ll run in the Avondale Cup (Gr.2, 2400m) and he’s absolutely bouncing,” James said.

The in-form son of Ocean Park won the Gr.3 Queen Elizabeth II Cup on New Year’s Day before he finished a gallant third on an unsuitable wet track in the Gr.3 Wellington Cup (3200m).

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