DYNA Willow's five-year-old race record will be under fire on Saturday night with Poco Dorado a warm favourite to maintain her unbeaten Wentworth Park long-distance tally in the Group 3 Summer Cup.
The Victorian-trained, NSW-owned Dyna Willow recorded 41.92 to win the Cup final in 2013 but Poco Dorado covered the 720m in 41.75 in her heat last week.
Poco Dorado has gone as fast as 41.68 at Wentworth Park and while her best form has been from wide draws, connections were not disappointed when she came up with box five on Saturday night.
She has won four of her five races wearing the yellow rug and with a lack of early pace around her in the Cup final, Poco Dorado only needs to begin with her customary dash to lead clearly at the first turn.
Her trainer John Finn and two owners who form the Dee And Pee Syndicate could take out the Cup trifecta as Poco Dorado's kennelmates, her sister Veloce Nero and litter brother Blue Moon Rising, loom as her toughest rivals.
Blue Moon Rising led all the way to win his heat in 42.33 last week where Veloce Nero was a certainty beaten, beaten just over four lengths into third place.
Veloce Nero, who was having her first long-distance race in more than five weeks, was skittled at the first turn while Blue Moon Rising went straight to the front.
While John Finn has always rated Poco Dorado the quickest of his trio, he has long contended that Veloce Nero is faster than Blue Moon Rising and is the likely improver on Saturday night.
This year's Ladbrokes Peter Mosman Classic winner Velocity Liberty resumes after a two months' break in heat three of the 520m Christmas Gift on Saturday night.
"She has not raced since finishing third in the NSW final of the National Sprint Championship at Wenty on August 9 but is trialling well,'' said Glen Goodwin, whose wife Robyn trains Velocity Liberty.
"Velocity Liberty has not had a 520m trial but is sprinting really well and we are very happy with her.
"She is usually a fast beginner but won't want to put a foot wrong from box three on Saturday night because Zombie, who has box one, has won her past two at Wenty and recorded a slick first split of 5.45 when she won there last Saturday.''
Modus Operandi, who has won seven of his past 14 starts for trainer Robbie Tyler, faces his toughest test when he exits box four in heat two of the Christmas Gift.
"I can't believe how much Modus Operandi has improved over the past few weeks,'' Tyler said.
"He was particularly impressive when he was able to hold off Big Butters, a noted strong finisher, to win at Gosford on Tuesday night.
"Zipping Falcon, who has box eight against Modus Operandi on Saturday, is a faster dog but he is a risky beginner and might not be suited drawn out wide.''
Zipping Falcon's kennelmate Zipping Mitzy dominates betting on heat one of the Gift while the consistent Nangar Kash is ideally drawn in box eight in heat four.
Trainer Mark Gatt could land a winning double on Saturday night as he has four runners, Kingsbrae Cheeko, Rita's Boy, Smoking Road and Rockstar Romeo in race one, and It's A Wish in race nine.
Gatt's brother, kennel foreman Daniel Gatt, said: "Rockstar Romeo looks well positioned in box eight.
"When he draws the rails he wants to run wide but he is a funny dog because when he draws wide he tends to push towards the fence.
"But I still prefer him boxed wide because then he has a better chance of getting across in front of his rivals.
"It's A Wish surprised me when she clocked 29.48 to win at Wenty last Saturday.
"We have always known she could run but I thought around 29.70 would pull her up at WP and she went a lot quicker.
"Admittedly she jumped in front and the track was very fast last week but she looks nicely positioned in box two on Saturday.''
Best Bet Poco Dorado (race 7)
Best Value Rockstar Romeo (race 1)
Quaddie race 5 - 5, 3, 1
Race 6 - 8, 2
Race 7 - 5, 3
Race 8 - 2, 7, 4
$20 for 55.55%