Peter and Dawn Williams will get a line on their Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks prospects when they saddle talented fillies Veearma and Madam Woo in Saturday's Gr.3 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m) at Ellerslie.
The South Auckland husband-and-wife training partnership have a high opinion of both fillies but reservations that the Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on March 18 may come up a bit soon, concerns they would love to quash at Ellerslie.
Veearma goes into the Sunline Vase as a $7 fourth favourite, while Madam Woo is a $56 outsider.
Veearma notched up her second Ellerslie win last month and Peter Williams expected her to again be competitive at the track this weekend.
"It was a big run last time and she's done everything right since," he said.
"She had to work from the draw the other day and still won with a bit of authority. She's drawn out a bit on Saturday and she'll probably sit back this time.
"The ability is there, it's just whether the strength is there just yet. She'll be better next year but you've got to have a go at races like this when they are three. If she had everything go her way on Saturday, she'll be a strong chance. Her trackwork this week has been first-class."
The stable had been aiming Madam Woo at the Gr.2 Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on New Year's Day but a series of setbacks has since plagued her preparation.
"She had a bruise which ruled her out of the Royal Stakes and then she lost a bit of weight and we had to turn her out," Williams said.
"I was a bit disappointed with her run the other day [for fourth in a 1600m maiden at Avondale] but I know she's got the ability. We'll ride her cold this time and hopefully see what she's capable of."
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Eleonora opened as a $2.10 favourite for the Sunline Vase, ahead of Dreamcrafter at $5.50 and Sacred Rhythm at $6.
The Williams stable has five entries at Ellerslie on Saturday, with Gravano, Triaction and Lovelight joining the fillies, with the stable confident of another bold showing from last-start winner Lovelight.
With Knight's Watch falling out of contention, no runner will represent the stable in the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m), with Williams tipping Sacred Elixir.
"It's an open Derby. There's no standout like in other years. Sacred Elixir is a class act but you just don't know what spring racing might have taken out of him," Williams said.