Rod Brown believes Academy Tide will strip fitter a fitter horse and expects improvement from the gelding in the Embrace Life-Belt Up Handicap (1300m) at Kalgoorlie on Sunday.
Academy Tide stepped out for his first appearance of the season last fortnight and finished seventh of 13 and three lengths from stable mate Secret Prince.
The five-year-old was resuming after displaying top form last season when he produced three wins and three placings from an eight start campaign.
“He lost about two weeks worth of work which put us behind the eight ball for his first up run,” Brown said.
“He had a few feet issues to overcome but we are on top of that now.
“I thought his run the other day was solid and I’m confident he would have gone closer if not for getting knocked over near the corner.
“He is nicely drawn and from barrier one and I expect him to figure in the finish.”
Stable mate Secret Savings faces his toughest test in the Eagle Petroleum Handicap (1200m) and Brown is eager to see how the gelding responds.
It follows an impressive first-up win from a spell a fortnight ago when he held on in determined fashion to defeat the fast-finishing Fire Side by a short half-head.
“He looked gone on several occasions but kept finding for a very gutsy win,” said Brown.
“I have a lot of time for this horse who has always shown me a lot of ability.
“But this is his biggest test against seasoned open company horses.”
Secret Prince, a winner of four races from 13 starts with three placings, will jump from barrier ten for apprentice jockey Ben Paterson.
The talented five-year-old has the perfect strike rate of two wins from two second up attempts.
Earlier in the programme, the Ok Is Not Ok Maiden (1600m), Maradiego can get back on even terms with punters and breakthrough for his first win in 12 starts.
The Blackfriars gelding is knocking on the door of victory after placings at his previous three outings, including Anzac Day, when he was trapped wide throughout.