Funstar remains the dominant favourite to deliver back-to-back Vinery Stud Stakes wins for the Chris Waller-James McDonald combination.
Trainer and jockey claimed the race 12 months ago with Verry Ellegant who was the benchmark filly of the autumn.
If Funstar can justify her $1.85 quote with victory in Saturday’s Group One Vinery Stud Stakes, she will be on a path to achieving the same ranking.
But there is hope among some rival trainers that the 2000 metres of the Vinery Stud Stakes could bring a changing of the guard.
While Funstar and New Zealand filly Probabeel have filled the top two placings in the Surround and Phar Lap Stakes, the pair are untested over the distance.
While Probabeel’s trainer Jamie Richards is at home in lockdown under Alert Level 4 Covid-19 restrictions, an able team is deputising in Sydney.
“Dad (Paul), Ashley Handley and Opie Bosson are all over there with the horses and they’ve been very happy with her,” Richards said.
The Rosehill track was a Soft 7 on Friday which Richards believes will assist Funstar more than Probabeel.
“Fingers crossed that they don’t get any more rain and that it might improve a little bit,” he said.
“But in saying that, when we raced there a fortnight ago it downgraded quickly, so it is probably going to be a little bit off and is likely to suit Funstar a little bit better than it’s going to suit us.”
Missile Mantra was beaten less than 1-1/2 lengths when fifth behind Probabeel and Funstar in the Surround (1400m) and co-trainer Peter Snowden says that effort gives her a chance.
“In the Surround, they beat her a length and an unlucky length, she was held up all the way down the run and they were the best fillies around,” Snowden said.
“The 1400 was always going to be too short and getting up to 2000 metres now should be her level.
“Funstar does have the runs on the board and she is the one to beat.
“But my filly wasn’t far away from them in the Surround and I think she is definitely a chance.”
Missile Mantra has raced once since the Surround when she was caught wide in the Kembla Grange Classic and did a good job to finish a close fourth.