Trainer Kacy Fogden says the 'penny had finally dropped' with well-bred filly Judder this preparation and she is hoping that's also the case with the Fastnet Rock three-year-old Skellig Island when he finally makes his racing debut at Ballina on Tuesday.
Fogden, who trains for Aquis Farm at its Canungra complex, posted a double with her only two runners at the most recent Ballina meeting on November 23. One of her winners that day was Judder, who absolutely bolted in with a F&M Benchmark 58 Hcp over 1410m.
Fogden expects Judder to go close again when she takes on a stronger field and steps up to 1600m in Tuesday's Benchmark 66 Hcp. And the trainer is hoping her faith in Skerrig Island can be justified when he debuts in the WIN Newtwork Maiden Plate (1600m).
Judder, a three-year-old filly by Medaglia d'Oro out of the Commands mare Tremor (a three-quarter sister to the Blue Diamond winner Earthquake), had three unplaced runs as a two-year-old earlier this year.
However, she broke through at her third run of this current preparation when she scored an easy win in a 1400m Maiden at Beaudesert on October 31.
She then didn't have the best of luck in the straight at her next outing at Ballina on November 13 when third to Secret Conquest and Savanna Jeune in a Benchmark 58 over 1260m.
She returned to Ballina for her most recent outing on November 23 when she trounced her rivals in a F&M Benchmark 58 Hcp (1410m) by more than three lengths.
Judder wins at Ballina on November 23
"We had a nice opinion of her as a two-year-old, but she just didn't get it at that stage. But the penny has finally dropped with her this time in," said Fogden.
"She's just improved and gone from good to great at her last run at Ballina when she really won very easily.
"She faces a tougher race on Tuesday, but I think she'll really relish the step up to the 1600m and should be very competitive again."
Jockey Andrew Mallyon, who combined with Fogden for their Ballina double back on November 23, again partners Judder and the first-starter Skellig Island.
Skellig Island, a $250,000 graduate of the 2018 Australian Easter Yearling Sale, originally went into work with Ciaron Maher and David Eustace in Sydney last season.
By Fastnet Rock out of Dower, the three-year-old is a half-brother to the former classy New Zealand filly Dowager Queen. Skellig Island trialled twice in Sydney for the Maher-Eustace stable earlier this year before being sent north for Fogden to train.
He has had another five trials for Fogden, finishing out of the placings in the first four before winning a Beaudesert trial over 1050m on November 24.
"Although he cost a bit of money as a yearling, he's simply looked too slow to bring to the races until now," said Fogden.
"He's had his critics around the stable but I have just had a feeling about this horse that the penny might just drop with him once he gets to the races.
"He finally won a recent trial over 1000m at Beaudesert, where he relaxed at the back and ran home and that'll be the plan on Tuesday. We've decided to start him off at 1600m and the blinkers have gone on.
"I'm just hoping he shows us more on raceday and that my intuition about him proves correct."