Queensland trainer Ben Ahrens is expecting marked improvement from his handy sprinter Destiva when he puts his unbeaten second-up record on the line at Murwillumbah on Friday.
Destiva, who tackles the Ellis & Baxter Solicitors & Attorneys Open Hcp (1000m), has a perfect record from his three previous second-up runs.
The Beaudesert-based Ahrens said Destiva was 'run off his feet' when first-up over the 800m scamper at Kilcoy on November 3, a race won by Zouzoukakia in a slick 44.09.
"He's certainly better off over the 1000m at Murwillumah on Friday than he was over the 800m at Kilcoy," he said.
"And his second-up runs at each preparation have all been very good. From barrier two, I'm expecting a marked improvement from him on Friday and I'd be disappointed if he didn't run very well."
Destiva won his first two starts of his previous preparation over 1000m at Ballina before going on to run a big race in the Gold Coast's $75,000 Bat Of Of Hell Flying (900m) behind the smart short-course sprinters Prompt Return and Hidden Pearl on May 17.
Destiva's main opposition on Friday looks to be the Matt Dunn-trained Lucky Show Girl, first-up since June, and the Ben Currie-trained Saipan, also first-up but a winner at Toowoomba at his last return from a spell.
Ahrens' other runner on Friday will be recent shock winner Danger Annie in the Courthouse Hotel Cup Class 3 Hcp (1200m). The mare stunned everyone except Ahrens two runs back on October 6 when she scored in a Maiden at Ipswich at the massive odds of $201. At her previous start she had finished a first-up last of 10 at the Sunshine Coast in September and produced a similar well-beaten effort at the end of her previous preparation back in May.
But Ahrens said she was way over the odds at $201 at Ipswich.
"I don't know how she started at $201 - she was probably a $20 chance in my opinion," he said. "She's always shown some ability and she had trialled well before she raced earlier in the year when she ran third on debut at Ipswich (March 3).
'But she has terrible feet and we had a few problems with her after that. First-up this time at the Sunshine Coast (September 24) she had her head over the next stall when they jumped and she missed the start.
"I thought she was a place chance when she was $201 at Ipswich, but luckily one of the owners didn't listen (about a place bet) and backed her each-way, so he did quite nicely."
Danger Annie then backed up her $201 win at her next start at Beaudesert, this time starting at $17 to win a F&M Class 1 Hcp (1200m) on October 20.
Ahrens is cautious about the five-year-old mare's chances of completing a hat-track in Friday's harder race, especially from a fitness point of view. She continues to have issues with her feet, which has restricted her work.
"She's always had problems with her feet - she's only ridden about twice a week and we have to give her a lot of work in the pool to get her fit. She's now a month between runs and is probably a little underdone," he said.
Jockey Brad Pengally should get a result from his only ride at the eight-race Murwillumbah meeting when he partners the Brisbane three-year-old Cruze in the Melaleuca Station Class 1 Hcp (1000m).
Trained at Eagle Farm by Barry Lockwood, Cruze is resuming since finishing unplaced in strong company behind the quality Godolphin galloper Kementari at Randwick on May 27.
He won his only previous start when a debut winner at the Sunshine Coast on April 30 and has trialled nicely at Doomben in preparation for Friday's return.