Glamour mare Wink And A Nod set Belmont Park alight during the winter to emerge as a serious threat in feature races at the upcoming Ascot carnival.
The daughter of McFlirt established her credentials between May and September with six of eight victories including a feature race hat trick.
She ended her campaign on a brilliant high by taking out the Belmont Newmarket (1200m), the inaugural Idyllic Prince Stakes (1300m) and Farnley Stakes (1400m).
But on Saturday trainer Justin Warwick will get a gauge on exactly how good she is when faces an acid test in the Listed Birthday Stakes.
She meets a select field of nine rivals including last season’s star, Black Heart Bart, rising talent Hazzabeel and former Sydney galloper, Woodbine.
Black Heart Bart, who has one win from two first up attempts, tuned up for his return when second to Showy Chloe in a 950m Lark Hill trial.
Woodbine arrives with a big reputation from Sydney while Hazzabeel won three straight races before being tipped out for a spell in July.
Warwick says fitness and 55kg, 3 ½ kg less than her previous start in the Farnley Stakes, will give Wink And A Nod the edge.
“There is a lot in her favour,” said Warwick on TABradio.
“She has drawn well, is in good order and gets in well at the weights.
“The strength of the opposition is going to be a lot tougher than what she has been bumping into.
“But we have a lot more fitness on our side than many of the opposition.”
Wink And A Nod starts from barrier four for Lucy Warwick. Black Heart Bart and Glenn Smith combine from gate two. Hazzabeel with Paul Harvey starts from barrier seven.
Dan Morton said Hazzabeel, who has yet to be beaten in two first up attempts, was primed to run a forward race on his return.
“He is an exciting horse who could take the next step for us,” said Morton.
“We only gave him a short let up after his last start.
“He certainly won’t be lacking any fitness going into this race.
“I think he is sharp enough to give us a good sight.”
RWWA: Julio Santarelli