Multiple Group One-winning stablemates Shoals and Santa Ana Lane have taken another step in their build-ups towards The Everest, pleasing connections in a barrier trial at Cranbourne.
The Anthony Freedman-trained Shoals and Santa Ana Lane both won three Group One races last season and have already secured slots in October's $13 million Everest (1200m) at Randwick.
They stepped out in an 800m-trial on Monday, with Shoals cruising to a close second to Ardrossan while Santa Ana Lane settled back and wide before working to the line for eighth.
Freedman's son and assistant, Sam Freedman, said the pair did what was asked of them and would trial again in two weeks.
"Touch wood, they haven't put a foot wrong so far," he said.
"Shoals seems to be going really well.
"Santa takes a bit of time in his prep to get to his best. They are both exactly where we need them to be.
"We know the horses pretty well now and they're both indicating they've come back the exact same as before.
"There's no reason why they can't take the step to weight-for-age level, which is the only little question mark."
Shoals won the Myer Classic (1600m), Surround Stakes (1400m) and Sangster Stakes (1200m) at Group One level last season while Santa Ana Lane claimed the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m), The Goodwood (1200m) and Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).
Freedman said their paths to The Everest had yet to be locked in.
He said the Moir Stakes on September 29 was part of the plan for Shoals who may have a start before then, while Santa Ana Lane will have two starts before The Everest.
"It's probably the best Shoals has trialled," Freedman said.
"She's a fairly lazy trialler and worker and Jye (McNeil) said when the horse came up on the outside of her, she wanted to do it.
"She's had a good blow and will come back in two weeks for another trial.
"Santa Ana Lane has done exactly what we needed him to do.
"He's still quite big. Ben Melham was really happy with his action and said he's going really well."
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