Newcastle trainer Kris Lees believes a decision to abort the spring campaign of Collide could pay dividends in the autumn, starting with the listed Parramatta Cup (1900 metres) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Lees will shoot for a third consecutive win in the Parramatta Cup, which he claimed with Red Cardinal (2019) and Mustajeer (2020). Like that pair, Collide is an Australian Bloodstock import and the Hunter syndicators and Lees have three in the race this time around.
Mustajeer and Raheen House resume off no trials on the expected heavy track, while Collide makes his Australian debut on the back of one hit-out. The Hunter team had high hopes with Collide for the Melbourne Cup carnival but a minor leg injury prompted a new plan.
"He had a bit of a setback when he first arrived and he was looking unlikely for the cups fields without going through a lead-up race," Lees said. "We were running out of time so we decided to just abort the preparation and concentrate on the autumn, which I think was a sound decision.
"He's been impressive enough in everything that he's shown us. I think 1900 will be short of what will be his best distance, but I think he'll run well fresh with improvement to come."
Lees said a Melbourne Cup campaign could be back on the table for Collide.
"We've still got a bit of time up our sleeve so we could get there yet," he said.
Collide was third in his only trial, which Lees said was just for raceday experience.
Mustajeer is back after a disappointing Melbourne Cup run, while Raheen House will stick to wet-track opportunities.
"The other two, we went down a similar path last autumn and they were both able to win a feature race then be a touch unlucky in the Sydney Cup, so we'll stick to a similar path," Lees said.
"Mustajeer is going better than he was in the spring but I don't know if he's going as good as this time last year. We had a fair bit of confidence last year but he's got the same weight and he's a quality horse when he's right.
"He's got a pretty good fresh record, so he's capable.
"Raheen House loves the wet but it will be too short for him, but it starts his prep on the right surface."