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The 4yr-old daughter of Christian Cullen was not quite at her peak at Ascot Park on December 7, going down to stablemate Sonia Ellen, but co-trainer Geoff Knight said she had excuses.
''It might have looked slightly average, but she had a slight respiratory problem which we have treated and she has come through that well,'' he said.
Royal Impression accepted in two races at the Wairio club's meeting at Winton but the first foal of Invigorate (by Artsplace) will line up in the 1-2 win mobile for mares. The presence of the well-handi-capped Here We Go Again (five lifetime wins), who broke the 2200m mares' track record at Forbury Park last start, provides Royal Impression with a sterner test than her last run for third behind Sonia Ellen.
However, the preferential barrier draw system gives driver Matthew Williamson options out of the gate from barrier three as Here We Go Again (barrier 10) will follow out Robyn's Christian (barrier two) from the second line.
The task is slightly harder for Crown Royal, who starts off 20m in a 1-2 win special handicap pace. Her hopes have been hindered
after drawing on the inside of the 20m mark, with four horses on her outside.
''It's quite a nice field so she's probably a place chance.''
Knight and his wife, Jude, have a two-pronged attack on a 1-win mobile pace with De Bon Vouloir (drawn two) and Harmony Rule (drawn six). Harmony Rule was a last-start winner at Gore on December 4, while De Bon Vouloir was fifth behind Call Of Duty, although the fourth placegetter in that race, Ultra Shok, went on to win at Ascot Park on Tuesday
There is an air of excitement around the Knight stable as Pembrook's Delight eyes a return to racing. The 5yr-old Bettor's Delight mare had a break after her 4yr-old diamond division win at the Harness Jewels, and she warmed up for her season debut at Winton on December 29 with a sizzling win at the Roxburgh trials yesterday. She ran 2.41.0 for the 2200m (mobile), which Knight thought was about 3sec inside the Roxburgh track record, with her last 800m in 56.5 and her last 400m in 27.1
- Matt Smith