Ambitious autumn plans go on the line for up-and-coming stayer King Utah in Saturday's Listed Christmas Cup.
King Utah chased home veteran stayer Fiumicino in the Listed ATC Cup last start with the 2200m race Fiumicino's first win since he claimed the Group One BMW (2400m) in the autumn of 2009.
Port Macquarie trainer Wayne Wilkes is banking on the improvement factor as the key to King Utah turning the tables on Fiumicino on Saturday.
And victory in the Christmas Cup, or the Summer Cup two weeks later, would confirm aspirations for King Utah to be targeted at The BMW and also Sydney Cup (3200m).
"He just seems to be getting better with age and if he keeps stepping up we might go for races like the BMW and Sydney Cup in the autumn," Wilkes said.
"It (his summer campaign) will tell us whether we go for the big ones or not."
King Utah pleased Wilkes with the way he hit the line for second last start and the Port Macquarie trainer is confident the stayer can go one better despite meeting Fiumicino at the same weight difference as last time.
"I'd love to draw a good alley, and with that little bit of improvement I think he's made since last start I reckon we can probably turn the tables," Wilkes said.
King Utah, beaten three-quarters of a length in the ATC Cup, was ridden by apprentice Anthony Allen but has been replaced by Christian Reith.
"The owners just wanted to put a senior jockey on. It's nothing against Anthony, it's just about going for a more experienced rider," Wilkes said.
"Just trying to cover all bases."
Fiumicino has topweight of 59kg with Moriarty (55) the only other horse among the 11 nominations not on the 54kg limit.
King Utah was a 2400m winner at Warwick Farm three starts back.
"I think the 2400 metres will suit him better on Saturday," Wilkes said.
"I think there's a lot of upside with him still and he's come through his last race 100 per cent."
The Christmas Cup is the middle leg of a three-race series for stayers in Sydney during December.
The Group Three Summer Cup (2400m) is at Rosehill on Boxing Day.