THE Art Of The Bar will take on older mares in a last-ditch bid to revive her $2 million Magic Millions 3YO Guineas campaign at Randwick's Kensington meeting on Saturday.
Trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott will need compelling evidence that The Art Of The Bar is maintaining he impressive summer form surge when she tackles a handy field in the Tab.com.au Handicap (1300m).
The brilliant three-year-old filly was also entered for the Membership Handicap (1300m) against her own age, but was shouldered with 60kg and made second emergency.
Bott confirmed it was the stable's intention to run The Art Of The Bar against the mares, but he stopped short of declaring the filly a definite Magic Millions starter even if she won.
"If she can win and win well it will give us something to think about,'' Bott said.
"We are aware it is a bit of an ask to have to back up a week later and take her interstate so we will be conservative with that decision.
"She has had a bit of racing which is in the back of our minds, too, but all the indications at home are she is going as well as ever. Everything hinges on how she goes (Saturday).''
The speedy The Art Of The Bar is the $2.60 Ladbrokes fixed odds favourite to beat the mares.
She has also been installed as the $4 favourite in the three-year-olds' race.
The Art Of The Bar was chasing her fourth successive win when run down late by Nicci's Gold over 1400m on a heavy Warwick Farm surface two weeks ago.
"I can't blame the heavy track as she had performed so brilliantly on it before,'' Bott said.
"In saying that, (jockey) Tim Clark didn't think she got through the heavy as well as she did previously which I thought was an interesting comment.
"She was also having her first attempt at 1400m and she was found wanting late as she raced a bit fresh.
"But we feel she is more seasoned for it now and dropping back to 1300m is ideal. She is just as good on top of the ground, she is in great shape and should be hard to beat again.''
The Waterhouse-Bott stable is sweating on first emergency Couru getting a start in the Membership Handicap.
Couru, raced by Dean Watt's Dynamic Syndications, has only had one start for a good win in a Goulburn maiden just before Christmas.
"I thought it was a really tough effort by Couru to win that day," Bott said.
"She is still a raw type of filly, still learning her craft, but she has a good attitude to her racing.''
Coonawarra is Tulloch Lodge's other Kensington acceptor, with the gelding topweight with 61kg for the Australian Turf Club Handicap (1550m).
Bott said the stable expected Coonawarra to run a much improved race after finishing at the rear of the field behind Easy Eddie at Warwick Farm two weeks ago.
"He won second-up last campaign and on his work he can be effective (tomorrow),'' the trainer said.
Bott is also unconcerned about the 62.5kg impost Alassio has to carry in the closer, the ATC Handicap (1100m), at Canterbury on Friday night.
Alassio, winner of three of her five starts, has drawn barrier one and will have James McDonald in the saddle, giving Bott reason to be confident.
"I'm not worried about the weight, over the short trips they can carry that,'' Bott said yesterday.
"She has a significant drop back in class on her first-up run, which will help, and obviously there is a couple of handy, progressive types in the field but we feel she has a great chance.''
The Waterhouse-Bott training partnership is also saddling up two-year-old filly Mistress Mouse in the Autumn Carnival On Sale Handicap (1100m).
"She is much better than the filly we saw run unplaced on debut at Kembla Grange as she did a few things wrong that day,'' Bott declared.
"We've sent her back to the trials since where she has gone well - we expect to see a much sharper performance.''