The Lord Reims Stakes in Adelaide is trainer Matt Cumani’s preference for staying mare Etah James who also holds a nomination for the Roy Higgins Quality in Melbourne.
Acceptances for both races are taken on Wednesday but Cumani said on Tuesday the Adelaide race was the likely option.
Prominent owner Lloyd Williams has eight horses among the 17 nominations for Saturday’s $120,000 Roy Higgins Quality (2600m) at Flemington including 2016 Melbourne Cup winner Almandin.
The $120,000 Lord Reims Stakes (2600m) at Morphettville has 13 nominations.
“It’s a Group Three, the prize money is better weighted towards the winner more so than the Melbourne race and hopefully we will be in there with a bit more of a chance,” Cumani said.
“Even if Lloyd only runs half of the horses he has nominated, Adelaide is still the easier option and it’s a Group Three versus a Listed race.”
Cumani said the only negative would be having to travel to Adelaide but he did not believes that was a big issue.
“So I think at this stage we’re 98 per cent going to Adelaide,” he said.
Etah James has won five of her nine starts.
After wins at Geelong, Ballarat and Caulfield in benchmark races in consecutive starts during summer, Etah James finished second in the Listed Bagot Handicap (2800m) at Flemington on January 1.
Linda Meech rode the mare in those four races and is booked for the ride in the Lord Reims.
Etah James was fifth as favourite in a 2100m benchmark race at Sandown on February 14 and Cumani said the way the race was run and the position she ended up in running didn’t suit.
“While she was tough and fought all the way to the line she definitely did need that run,” he said.
“Again the 2600 metres is still going to be a bit of a challenge but I’m hopeful she has come on a fair bit.”
The Lord Reims Stakes is a traditional lead-in to the Adelaide Cup but Cumani said he would rather target 2400m to 2600m races and wait until next season to look at stretching her out to 3200m unless she shows she is looking for that distance.
The Mornington Cup (2400m) is a consideration.