Speedy mare La Dolce Vita could earn herself a crack at next month's $90,000 Bat Out Of Hell (900m) on the Gold Coast if she races up to trainer Julie Hodder's expectations first-up at Grafton on today.
La Dolce Vita returns to racing in today's Harwood Hotel Hcp over 1006m and has drawn perfectly in the inside gate.
"She had a 900m jumpout about 10 days ago and won that easily and I think she'll be very hard to beat from that perfect draw on Monday," said Hodder.
"The 1006m first-up is ideal. She has amazing early speed and she should be very hard to catch."
Hodder has done a great job with La Dolce Vita since the mare joined her stable at the beginning of this season.
Now a five-year-old, La Dolce Vita was rated one of Queensland's most promising fillies a few seasons ago when trained at Deagon by Brad Smith. She kicked off her career in 2015 by winning three straight races and later that year put together back-to-back seconds in Listed races at Doomben - the first behind Secret Saga in the $100,000 Mode Plate (1200m) and then behind Sold For Song in $100,000 Gold Edition (1200m).
She lost her way a little after that, but rediscovered some of her old zest last year in her first six starts for Hodder.
She broke through at her third run for Hodder when she landed the Jacaranda Cup Prelude (1106m) at Grafton on October 31 in the slick time of 1.03.21. She then finished third to prolific Northern Rivers sprinter Lucky Meteor and Upstart in the Jacaranda Cup (1100m) on November 8.
Hodder spelled the mare after her second to the smart Toowoomba mare Bonsho over 900m at the Gold Coast on November 29.
"It was great to see her racing so well last prep," she said. "She's always had a bit of an attitude problem. She's still a bit naughty but is certainly a lot better these days.
"The Bat Out Of Hell on May 5 is a race I've got my eye on. She's always raced well at the Gold Coast in the past and the 900m would be perfect."
The Bat Out Hell is one of the features on the Gold Coast Turf Club's premier winter race day, headlined by the weight-for-age Hollindale Stakes.
La Dolce Vita faces nine rivals in today's sprint, including topweight Belflyer, Armidale galloper Hard Romp, in-form Toowoomba sprinter National Trail and Coffs Harbour galloper Elite Dubleo, who will certainly appreciate the drop back to the 1006m.
Hodder also expects her only other runner at Monday's meeting - Wacky Doo in the Crown Motel Class 2 Hcp (1410m) - to acquit himself well first-up.
Hodder only took him over last year and his best result in five starts for his new stable was a third at the Gold Coast in an 1800m Class 1 on December 16.
"He ran third in a recent Grafton trial and I think he's come back a better horse this time. I think he'll run a decent race first-up," she said.
Ballina trainer Stephen Lee looks to have a couple of genuine chances at today's eight-race meeting, including Nothingforthepress in the Class 2 (1410m), three-time Grafton winner Splinter in the Good Intent Hotel Benchmark 66 Hcp (1410m) and Taiko Boom and Jets Cracker in the final event, the Crown Hotel Motel Class 3 Hcp (1206m).