Ellalong trainer-driver Michael Formosa expects Pops Boy to bounce back in heats of the Breeders Challenge at Newcastle on Friday but he's unsure how recent addition Stellina will fare.
Formosa has already qualified Heavenly Holly for semi-finals of the 3YO fillies series with a heat win at Tamworth and he has another chance with Stellina, which came to his stable just 10 days ago.
Stellina has been racing mostly in Sydney with Ross Adams but has been moved to target the Hunter heat of the Breeders Challenge and next month's regional series. She has gate five in her heat on Friday night.
Formosa said the Roy Roots jnr-trained One Reason was the filly to beat.
"I would have liked to get her a bit earlier, but whatever she does tomorrow, she'll improve on, but she should run a good race," Formosa said of Stellina.
"I've watched her race a few times and she's got some ability but if she can improve a bit, I think she'll be hard to beat later on. This is a tough assignment on form, so mainly just aiming for the regional series with her."
Pops Boy was second in the 3YO male heat at Tamworth and Formosa expects that finish and the colt's prizemoney this year to give him a semi-final spot.
Regardless, Formosa wanted a better result after a last-start fifth at Newcastle.
"He'd have to do something good tomorrow to warrant being a chance in the semis," he said. "It's hard to line up his form because he hasn't won his past three, but they've been good runs.
"Last start he got checked early and he was racing the older horses. His run was better than it looks on paper. He got home very quick after coming wide."