Ponga winning at Ararat (Image: Racing Photos)
Trainer Jason Warren knows it's difficult winning at metropolitan level off a debut country maiden victory but considers Ponga capable of making the leap in grade on Saturday.
Ponga, a distant relation to Black Caviar, is one of 10 acceptors for the $135,000 Ladbrokes Cash In Handicap (1200m), a three-year-old race to be held under Benchmark 70 conditions at The Valley.
The gelded son of Unencumbered led throughout over 1100 metres when scoring by 2.25 lengths in the opening event on Ararat Cup Day (November 10).
"We saved him for that race at Ararat, it was a Super VOBIS and VOBIS Gold race on a good prizemoney day and he got the job done accordingly," said Warren, referring to Ponga's payday of $41,650.
"Statistics are always against horses that win their country maiden and then go to town but he's a horse that has trialled up quite well and is seasoned.
"He's a bit more polished than your usual horse having their second start."
WATCH: Ponga's Ararat win
Warren expects Ponga to settle in the first half of the field from barrier nine but says it's not essential for Clayton Douglas, who retains the ride from Ararat, to find the front as per his Ararat outing.
Ponga is fifth in betting with BetEasy at $11 to win at The Valley on Saturday behind Somals ($3), Rubisaki ($3.20), Three Beans ($5.50) and Alburq ($8.50).
Ponga's third dam is Group 1 placegetter Scandinavia, the grand dam of Black Caviar that has produced Stakes-winning sprinters Magnus, Wilander, Scandiva and Arctic Flight.
Warren has two other runners at The Valley, Call It A Day in the $125,000 Daemco Handicap (1200m) at Benchmark 78 level and Tata Da Goose in the $125,000 Ace Seating Handicap (1600m) for fillies and mares at Benchmark 84 level.
Both horses were formerly trained by Wez Hunter, who now works for Warren.
"Call It A Day's first-up effort at Cranbourne was very good (second to Fill The Flute) and he's trained on nicely," Warren said.
"We gave him a soft jumpout last week at Balnarring just to keep him up to the mark as he's a gross doing horse that spends a lot of time at Balnarring beach. The team do a great job keeping him sound because he's done a lot of racing now.
WATCH: Call It A Day at Cranbourne
"Tata Da Goose was ridden quiet from the barrier and she hit the line well last week (when fifth over 1600 metres behind Sovereign Award)," Warren added.
"We were expecting to go up in distance for her next start but the way this fillies and mares race came up light on acceptances so we thought it's worth having a go at the good prizemoney on offer.
"We'll try and ride her a bit more positively on Saturday given that she'll be carrying no weight after the claim of Lachlan King."
WATCH: Tata Da Goose at The Valley