Two-year-olds from across NSW and Victoria will start their hopes for Group One glory at Wagga on Tuesday night.
Wagga plays host to the first of the NSW Breeders Challenge heats with small but quality fields for both fillies and the colts and geldings assembled.
Wagga trainer Brett Woodhouse is looking to make it back-to-back wins with Sword And Shield in the colts and geldings division.
Sword And Shield was an impressive winner at Wagga a fortnight ago, backing up an eye catching second in his first start.
Sword And Shield broke stride on debut but still recovered to finish behind Lovethatfeeling.
Woodhouse has been pleased with his first two efforts.
“He’s going good, he’s still learning but I’ve been pretty happy with him,” Woodhouse said.
“He’s still a bit green and needs a bit of racing but they all do when they are two.”
Woodhouse has had a good association with his family also training half-brothers Upward Ever Upward and Badge Of Gameness.
Upward Ever Upward won close to $100,000 while Badge Of Gameness has won three of his 13 starts with a further six placings before being sent for a spell after contracting Ross River fever.
It was the relations that drew Woodhouse to the son of Million Dollar Cam.
The North Wagga trainer has been impressed by how Sword And Shield continues to develop.
“He just keeps getting better and better,” he said.
“Some horses you break in and you know that they are good for the start but he snuck up on me really.”
Woodhouse has drawn barrier two in the heat with MIA Breeders Plate winner Our Mach Jack to start on his inside.
With Wagga the closest venue there is plenty of Victorian interest as well.
Former Uranquinty horseman Daniel Jack has Our Chateau Latife in the fillies heat and is joined by Anton Golino’s Sounds Of Terror.
Little Peanut has won two of his four starts for Greg Sugars and will make his first venture north after drawing four in the colts and geldings heat.
Sugars thought he deserves his chance at the riches on offer.
“He’s won two two-year-old races down here so there is not a lot of racing opportunities for him at the minute so we might as well head up there since we’re eligible and have a crack,” Sugars said.
Little Peanut is coming off a sixth at Melton last month, but Sugars was still pleased with his efforts when just over seven metres behind Beltane in a 1:56.6 mile rate.
“He was off the track and his sectionals were very good himself and he’s had a good trial on the weekend at Bacchus Marsh so he’s ready to rock and roll,” he said.
Sugars is one of Australia’s leading drivers and thought their was plenty of horse with strong numerical form in the race.
He rated David Hewitt’s Stone Cracker as one of the biggest dangers after fourths in the Bathurst Gold Crown and Rod Fitzpatrick Memorial.