Ave's seventh placing at Kensington in her recent first-up run hasn't disappointed father-son training combination Don and Andrew Ryan, it's just given them confidence that their mare is on the right track.
The Bathurst trainers are looking to steadily work Ave into her new preparation and get her closer to the mile, aiming to continue the trend in the Bathurst RSL Club Benchmark 58 Handicap (1200 metres) on her home track on Monday.
The Ryans are chasing a bit of Christmas cheer with their sole entry of the Tyers Park meeting, which was moved to Bathurst after Orange's Towac Park track was deemed too hard and too dry to host the program.
They will be hoping Ave's class will help her overcome the tough weight of 61.5 kilograms given to her by the handicapper.
"She's going to be better for that first run," Andrew Ryan said.
"She's got a tough job ahead of her with that 61 and a half, and drawing 11, but it's a part of a plan we've had for her and it's a stepping stone in that plan."
Ave comes into this preparation off a short but relatively successful prior run of results.
It might have been a winless run over her four starts but a pair of Highway Handicap placings has to be seen as a step in the right direction for the Roman Emperor mare.
The first of those placings came over 1800 metres and it showed Ave's capabilities over the longer distance.
Eleanor Webster-Hawes has been the jockey for all 16 of Ave's career starts and she continues that run on Monday.
Ryan said that consistency has played a big part in Ave's collection of results.
"Because she was out for so long we didn't want to overtax her and that's why we started her over 1100. We're taking her up to 1200 then up again to 1400," he said.
"The thing is with horses is that they're well balanced and the riders know the horse. That's why we tend to stick with El.
"We'd like to get her up over 1400 this time but after Monday's race it'll be clearer where we're going with her."
Alison Smith is the only Orange trainer to have accepted at the meeting, she'll put up Cotton On George in the third race on the program, the Lithgow Furniture & Bedding CG&E Maiden Handicap (1100m).
Cotton On George debuted Orange in early November and ran third over 1000 before a four-week freshen-up, the four-year-old ran sixth of 14 on Mudgee Cup Day after that.
It will be his first appearance at the Bathurst track and he'll jump from barrier five with Anthony Cavallo in the saddle, the celebrated hoop continuing his long-time partnership with Smith.
Monday's seven-race meeting at Bathurst gets underway from 1.50pm.
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