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Houtzen primed for Group 1 chance

Toby Edmonds said he couldn't be happier with his flying mare Houtzen ahead of Friday night's Group 1 Moir Stakes.

The Gold Coast-based trainer admitted even he was a little surprised with her performance where she broke the course record behind Nature Strip but purely because he didn't have her at her top for that first-up run.

Houtzen tuned up with a gallop at The Valley on Monday morning where she clocked 49.97s for the 800m and finished off in 24.51 last 400m.

Since the McEwen Stakes the daughter of I Am Invincible has taken great steps forward and Edmonds can't wait to take on Nature Strip again.

"If she's ever going to figure in a Group 1 this could be the one and we couldn't have her any better," Edmonds told Racing.com on Monday.

"After her last race she bounced straight into the feed bin and she was quite bright the next morning and has been ever since.

"There was a lot left in her that day, we thought we went in quite underdone and for her to do that so I was really surprised

"It didn't flatten her at all and that was my concern in the days after, whether it would flatten her but she's come through the run really good.

"She just came along for a maintenance gallop at the Valley this morning but she ran up in really quick time and she looked good."

Houtzen is narrowly defeated by Nature Strip in the McEwen Stakes at The Valley, photo finish picture Racing.com

Aside from already proving she has returned in outstanding form the fact Houtzen is unbeaten second-up gives her trainer even greater confidence.

"She's good early in her preparations... she's a very honest filly," he added.

"I've got to be honest, this season she's a lot more mature and a lot stronger and she's handling all the travel and the racing really well.

"We've been trying to keep her fresh enough for the 1000m because historically she's gone onto 1200m (second-up).

"There's going to be good speed in the Moir Stakes race so we're quite confident she can get a nice trailing run and run on nicely."

Edmonds is happy with the way his Melbourne spring team have started their campaigns with Winter Bride also taking out the Group 3 How Now Stakes first-up at Caulfield on Saturday.

While the four-year-old mare will next contest the Northwood Plume Stakes (1200m) on Caulfield Guineas Day, stablemate Whypeeo has been sent to the paddock after pulling up lame in both forelegs after his race on Saturday.

"Fortunately it is not anything that bad, but we're just going to spell him and give him a decent break to get over his niggles and pains."

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