Bendigo mare Super Girl faces one of the important stepping stones of her spring campaign at Caulfield on Saturday.
The Josh Julius-trained stayer has snuck into the field for the Group Three MRC Foundation Cup (2000), formerly known as the Naturalism Stakes.
The winner of the race earns a place in next month's Caulfield Cup.
While Super Girl is entered for the Caulfield Cup, November's Melbourne Cup is the main goal.
To qualify for the Melbourne Cup, Julius would like to run Super Girl in The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington on October 3.
Reaching that goal requires Super Girl to lift her current rating of 80 and that's where Saturday's race at Caulfield becomes so important.
While the mare is not expected to win, a strong top-five finish would benefit her spring plans.
"It's been tricky because we targeted a few races for her knowing that we needed to get her rating up,'' Julius said.
"Realistically, if she's going to be competitive in the races we want to get her in then she needs to make steady progression in these types of races.
"As it's turned out she gets a chance tomorrow to see where she measures up albeit in a race over 2000m that is a bit short of her pet distance."
"Being a Group Three race, if she can run into the placings, or maybe the top five, then that will get us a few ratings points.
"It's a good race and quite a few of these horses are plotting a similar path to us.
"It's going to be touch and go for us to get a run in the Bart Cummings, so this race is important for us in terms of those ratings points.
"The Bart Cummings has been our main target (in terms of a Melbourne Cup qualifying race)."
Super Girl won impressively at Sandown first-up this campaign before running fifth at the same track last start in a race that wasn't run to suit.
"It was a forget run for us, but she's come through it really well,'' Julius said.
"It wasn't a forget run because of her form, it was the circumstances of the race.
"She came through the race well and she's ready to run a good race on Saturday."
Super Girl's racing pattern is to get back in the field and finish strongly.
Up in class and from barrier nine in a field of 16, Julius will be advising jockey Billy Egan to be a little bit aggressive at the start.
"If she gets too far back it will make it tough for her to get around them all in a field like that,'' Julius said.
"We'll try and settle a little closer than we normally do.
"If she can land midfield and get a position one off the rail...hopefully the wind down the side is not too bad, she gets some cover and then finishes the race off strongly."
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