Debut runner Monkey Business and his stablemate Platinum Spirit really caught the eye in training at Awapuni this morning.
All fast work during a quiet session was held on the plough (good), where Monkey Business, in Boxing Day's maiden 1400m, worked alone over 1000m in 1.7.1, sprinting home the last 600 in 37.6.
The Niagara gelding is a half-brother to Collinstreet (by Bachelor Duke) and stakes-placed mare Diamond Grace (by Bachelor Duke).
He was formerly in the north, but is now trained by Lisa Latta, who won a Foxton trial (1400m) with him two weeks ago.
Platinum Spirit, in the r74 2100m, was at a good clip early over 1000m in 1.5.7, the last 600 in 39.3, and he is certainly overdue a winning turn.
Race rival Super Spirit and Pinkerton galloped post-to-post (1800m), being timed the final 1000m in 1.6.8, the last 600 in 39.6.
Balalaika (r65 1200m) did nice even work over 800m in 53.7, the last 600 in 39.1, while Platinum Rain (by Kermadec) and unraced four-year-old Platinum Eagle (by Free Eagle) did 1000m in 1.10.6, the last 600 in 40.5.
Sindacato and Town Cryer were paired over a steady 1000m in 1.14 even, the last 600 in 41.9. Both horses are in at Manawatu on Boxing Day, but are likely to race elsewhere.
Sindacato is also an acceptor in the Stella Artois Championship Final (1500m) at Ellerslie the same day, with Leith Innes the rider, while Town Cryer has been nominated for the City of New Plymouth Cup (1800m) on Monday.
Manawatu runners Nobellem (r65 1200m), who will race in blinkers, and first-starter Silver Eagle (mdn 3yo 1200m) covered 800m in 57 even, the last 600 in 41.1.
Silver Eagle (by Vespa) is a three-year-old filly sister to stablemate Pleasure, who has won two from five.
A four-year-old sister to jumper La Jungles trained by Stephen Beatson, ran 1000m in 1.12.3, the last 600 in 43 even.
Zabeel Classic contender House Of Cartier, to be ridden by Andrew Calder, was restricted to two rounds of pace-work, as was top two-year-old filly Wolverine.
Wolverine will run in the Group 2 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year's Day as her final lead-up race to the Karaka Million (1200m) at the same venue three weeks later.