Port Macquarie trainer Allan Kehoe hopes to get a better guide to the staying potential of filly Hanna From Havana when she chases a winning hat-trick at Grafton on Monday.
A three-year-old daughter of former champion So You Think, Hanna From Havana ($1.80 into $1.60 favourite on TAB) has been dominant at her past two starts.
She won her Maiden over 1710m at Grafton on March 31 by more than two lengths, then trounced a Class 1 field by almost six lengths over 1900m at Ballina on April 7 when she had the unenviable task of taking the field up to a runaway leader well before the home turn.
Hanna From Havana is a warm favourite when she returns to Grafton for Monday's Benchmark 66 Hcp (2220m).
Kehoe admits the three-year-old has only beaten modest opposition so far, but has been impressed in the manner she has been beating her rivals.
The sobering aspect of her past two wins is that she beat Jet Pilot in both races. That gelding is yet to win in 23 starts and is chasing his first success in Monday's Maiden Plate over 1710m where he is the $4 favourite.
"True, she has only been beating modest opposition, but it's the way she's been winning and dominating her races that has impressed me and I think she's got real staying potential," said Kehoe.
"She goes up from a Class 1 to a Benchmark 66 on Monday and faces Ethan Ensby's mare Lady Grande ($3.20) who is racing really well and looks very hard to beat, so this race will give us a better guide to where our mare is at."
A $26,000 purchase at the 2018 Inglis Classic yearling sale, Hanna From Havana has shown steady improvement this preparation once Kehoe was able to step her up to more suitable distances.
"We've always been looking forward to getting her up in distance once she'd matured a bit more, and I think she will keep on developing next season as a four-year-old. What she's been doing so far, she's done on raw ability.
"Monday's race may be her last for this prep and she could go for a break. But if she won well again, it would be hard to turn her out while she's going so well."
Jockey Matt McGuren has partnered the filly in her two recent wins and is looking to remain unbeaten on her in Monday's race.
Ballina mare Lady Grande looks the obvious main danger to Hanna From Havana on Monday. She has been racing very well around the Northern Rivers since joining Ethan Ensby's stable from Sydney trainer John Sargent late last year.
Lady Grande has been particularly effective at Grafton, winning twice and being placed three times from her five runs at the track. The mare won at Class 1 Plate over 2200m at Grafton two runs back on March 15 then at the same track last start on March 31 was just edged out by Bullet Shot in a Benchmark 66 Hcp over 2220m.
Besides his ride on Hanna From Havana, McGuren will also partner a couple of good chances for leading Murwillumbah trainer Matt Dunn.
McGuren rides Byron Buoy ($2.30) for Dunn in the C,G&E Maiden Hcp (1106m), as well as first-starter Tolerate ($3.80) in the F&M Maiden Hcp (1106m), Cinnamon Missile ($2.90 fav) in the Benchmark 66 Hcp (1410m), and Triple The Fun ($2.60 fav) in the Class 1 Hcp (1106m).
Cinnamon Missile looks ready to improve at his third run in and back on a good surface, while Triple The Fun looks hard to beat again after resuming to win his Maiden at Murwillumbah on March 23.
The Dunn stable has a strong chance in Monday's Class 2 heat of the Rising Star Series for apprentice riders with Without Risk ($2.30 fav). Apprentice Mikayla Weir has a good chance of making some ground on the series leader Qin Yong when she partners Without Risk.
Weir currently sits fourth in the series with 19 points behind Qin Yong who is a clear leader 44 points but there are eight more heats still to be run.
Port Macquarie sprinter Golden Comet ($3.30 fav) can build on his solid record at Grafton when he lines up in the Open Hcp (1106m).
Trained by Margaret De Gonneville, Golden Comet has never been out of a place in his five previous Grafton runs, winning twice, finishing second twice and last-start finishing third to Kievann and Successor in an Open Hcp (1200m) on March 15.