Manco Easter Handicap candidates took centre-stage at Matamata this morning as they prepared for Saturday’s Ellerslie feature.

On the course proper, where the going was dead with the markers in the 23-metre position, Mongolianconqueror was ridden by raceday rider Craig Grylls as he and stablemate Queen Of The Air (Miller) cut out 1000m in 1:09.2, quickening for a final 600m in 38.7. Mongolianconqueror has made pleasing progress since his bold fresh-up third at Te Rapa last week.

Yearn (Tynan), runner-up in the same race, looked in good shape as she got through solo work over 1200m in 1:18.3, 1:04.5 and 38.8. Likely Easter topweight On The Rocks (S McKay) was paired with fellow Ellerslie candidate Anything But (Bayliss) over 1200m in 1:21.3, 1:05.9 and 37.8.

On The Rocks has freshened up since a heavy track brought him undone in the Bonecrusher Stakes and he could well run a bold 1600 metres ahead of his Queensland campaign.

Last-start Te Aroha winner The Mitigator (P McKay) prepared for the Easter on the all-weather track, where he and stablemate Rocco Valenti (S McKay) were unextended to run 1000m in 1:06.5 and 37.8. King’s Secret (Fawcett) ran the same trip freely in 1:06.3 and 37.7.

Back on the course proper Ellerslie entries Incantesimo (Hashizume) and Vichy (Coleman) strode over 1200m in 1:19.5, 1:05.5 and 38.8. Sleeping Beauty (Yanagida) looked sharp ahead of her Rotorua engagement on Monday when she dashed in from the 800m in 50.2 and 36.1. Stablemate Wild Seas (C Grylls), another for Rotorua, left 1000m behind in 1:05.7 and 37.8.

Remington (Burdan) and Ristretto (Kamaruddin) prepared for Rotorua with 1000m in 1:09.6 and 38.6, while Al Haram (A Jones) ran a solo 1200m in 1:23, 1:08.2 and 40.5.

Ruby Armani (Bayliss), who resumes at Rotorua, cut out 1200m in 1:18.2, 1:04.7 and 38.2. Lady Zeraph (Miller), a starter at Woodville on Thursday, was allowed an easy 1200m in 1:29.9 and 43.7.

Hay Tiger (R Jones) and Showboat (Lammas) worked on the rail in the true position, where they began steadily from the 1000m mark to record 1:11.4 before sprinting home from the 600 in 35.

On the sand Master Painton (P Turner) looked in good form ahead of Ellerslie in a solo gallop over 1000m in 1:04 and 600m in 36.4.

Supera (Donoghue) looked bright as she continued her preparation towards Te Rapa next week with 1000m in 1:09.7 and 40.6. She’s A Thief (Bayliss), another for Te Rapa, was well held over 1000m in 1:15.5 and 43.4.

Hello M’Lady was ridden by her trainer Vicki Prendergast over 1000m in 1:04.8 and 38.2. Mav (C Cole) had an easy 800m in 54.9 and 40.2.

Dennis Ryan