Fred Kersley is leaning towards continuing Ihtsahymn's brilliant summer campaign in the $250,000 LD Total CB Cox Stakes at Ascot next Saturday.
The master trainer will make a final decision on a start in the 2100m feature after Ihtsahymn is put through his paces in a crucial gallop at Ascot on Tuesday.
The three-year-old's progress since winning last Saturday's Group 1 Kingston Town Classic has boosted his chances of tackling the Group 2 Cox Stakes.
The Kingston Town victory over star galloper Luckygray elevated the three-year-old's rating from 85 to 104, limiting Kersley's options.
"We'll make a final decision on Tuesday after trackwork," Kersley said. "I need to be satisfied he's got over his last run.
"If I'm not happy with him next week he'll go to the paddock, but I'm tempted to run.
"I really want to keep him racing in WA. On the basis of limited opportunity, it's hard to look past this race."
Kersley called on Racing and Wagering WA to consider programming autumn races for the State's top gallopers.
Trainer Jim Taylor has previously raised the issue, with a lack of autumn options forcing him to transfer star sprinter Barakey to Sydney trainer Chris Waller, who also will take over Mr Moet.
"The big thing is these horses are lost to WA racing," Kersley said.
"The argument has always been that there aren't enough top-level horses, but a three-year-old maiden (Shamus Award) won the Cox Plate and a three-year-old won the Kingston Town.
"I think it's something that should be discussed. My preference is always to stay here, but that is becoming increasingly difficult."
Under the weight-for-age conditions of the Cox Stakes, Ihtsahymn would carry 51kg, 1kg less than he carried in his Kingston Town triumph.
History is against him if he runs, with only nine three-year-olds winning the feature in its 99-year history.
Fade (1973) and Old Money (2000) were the most recent three-year-olds to win the race.
Kersley will consider a Cox Stakes start for Operational.
He also is entered for Wednesday's $60,000 ATA Handicap (2200m) with Kersley's last-start Ascot winner Ask Me Nicely.
·Deputy chief steward David Hensler has been appointed Darwin's chief stipe.
"We'll make a final decision on Tuesday I need to be satisfied he's got over his last run."" *Fred Kersley *on star three-year-old Ihtsahymn