Ron Quinton is confident a “physically better” Crafty Irna can produce an improved showing in her second attempt at the Group 1 Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
The five-year-old mare was also nominated for the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) but Quinton said the Metropolitan has always been the primary target.
“She was only really nominated in the Craven as a backup and the Metropolitan has always been the goal,” Quinton said.
The daughter of Starcraft, who finished 10th in the Metropolitan last year, was last seen running second in the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) on September 15 but the Randwick trainer is not concerned about her condition ahead of Saturday’s test.
“I really couldn’t be happier with her, the three weeks between runs has never been a query,” Quinton said.
“Physically she’s a lot better [than last year]. I wouldn’t say she’s galloping any faster but she’s definitely improved physically.”
Crafty Irna heads into the race in consistent form with the Kingston Town second preceded by a win in the La Gioconda Stakes (1600m) at Wyong and an eye-catching second in the Listed Toy Show Quality (1300m).
The winner of more than $300,000 in prizemoney is set to carry the minimum weight of 52kg on Saturday and will be ridden by Christian Reith who was also aboard for the Kingston Town Stakes.
But it will be no easy task to claim her first Group 1 victory this weekend, with a number of in-form runners in contention including Newcastle Cup winner Glencadam Gold and Hill Stakes winner Lamasery.
“It’s a pretty evenly bunched Metrop field and it’s going to be competitive with plenty of chances,” Quinton said.
Chris Waller-trained gelding Kelinni is set to back up from Saturday’s impressive win in the Group 3 Colin Stephen (2400m) Quality.