Divine Quality’s near-perfect first-up record has given trainer Robbie Griffiths the confidence to put her up against a crack field in the Group One Lightning Stakes.
Griffiths has followed a similar program with the mare to the one he used in the spring when she was an emphatic first-up winner of the Group Three Furphy Sprint at Flemington in November.
Leading into the Furphy victory over 1100m, Griffiths gave the mare a jump-out and a trial at Cranbourne, a formula he has again followed leading into Saturday’s 1000m sprint.
“With her great straight-track record we’ve elected to have a shot at the Lightning fresh,” Griffiths said.
“Once we won on Derby day it was going to be compressed to try and run in races like the Standish and the Kensington, so we elected to bypass those races and concentrate on the Lightning.
“I know weight-for-age conditions suit horses rated higher than her, but she’s a progressive horse and she’s ticked every box going into the race.
“She’s drawn well (8) for her style and we’ve just got to see now whether she can take the next step to the big league.”
A five-year-old, Divine Quality will line up for start No. 15 on Saturday with a record of four wins and seven minor placings and three wins and a second first-up from four attempts.
She had a delayed start to racing with Griffiths saying the mare lacked maturity and was six months behind similar aged horses.
Now Griffiths sees it as her time to shine.
“When we bought her she was the first crop of Sepoy and everyone thought the breed would jump and run early like he did,” Griffiths said.
“But every time we brought her in she continued to get taller and change shape.
“Mother Nature was saying this mare was not ready to go to the races and that’s why she didn’t start racing until a late three-year-old.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if she takes the next step as even though she won Derby day, I still reckon there was room for her to improve physically.”
Should Divine Quality please Griffiths on Saturday she will progress to next month’s Newmarket Handicap, a race the trainer won in 2016 with The Quarterback.
Divine Quality is at 21 with Sunlight the $3.90 favourite ahead of the Kris Lees-trained pair of In Her Time ($5) and Graff ($6).