As Deep Field’s Lightning Stakes opposition falls away, bookmakers have him close to a sure thing.
But his owner Alan Bell is a little more cautious.
A former trainer and racing administrator, Bell has raced many turf luminaries including Schillaci, Primacy and Grand Armee and is all too aware of not getting carried away.
Deep Field has started three times in restricted company and won all three races by a combined margin of 20 lengths.
He will face a maximum of six rivals in Saturday’s Listed Lightning (1100m) following the defections of Miracles Of Life and Big Money to Melbourne.
“It is a big step for him,” Bell said.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. He is at the foot of the mountain now and he has to climb to the top.
“He is still learning his race craft and that is reflected in his rating.”
His 84 benchmark is not a concern for the bookies with Deep Field as short as $1.25.
Bell had been anticipating a larger field which he believed would help the four-year-old adjust his race pattern which until now has been to lead and demoralise his opposition.
“He loves to run and just wants to get on with it,” he said.
“If anything he is a little bit too willing.
“The challenge is going to be getting him to relax in his races and not be in such a hurry.
“But then he’s never been led yet.”
Although he spent many years as a trainer, Bell says he is not tempted to interfere with the way the Hawkes family prepares his horse.
“Why would I second guess John Hawke. He is Hall of Fame trainer,” he said.
“He is a great trainer and his record says he is nearly always correct.
“I just try to contribute in a positive way.”
Even if he does win, Bell says it is unlikely Deep Field will go much further into the spring.
“He has been going since winter and is still in an educational phase,” he said.
“There are races for him in the autumn.”
Deep Field was a late starter to racing after a lengthy recuperation from surgery on a leg required when he was kicked by another horse.
While Bell has been patient with Deep Field and is prepared to wait until next year to test him at Group One level, the same may not be so for Maastricht who runs in the Ethereal Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
“She was only narrowly beaten in the Edward Manifold and she is bred to stay so if she can win, then we look at the Oaks,” Bell said.
Manifold winner Fontein Ruby takes on both sexes in the Caulfield Classic on the program.