Caulfield Guineas hopes are alive for connections of lightly raced Urban Ruler who has returned to racing with a win at Sandown.
The Greg Eurell-trained Urban Ruler stepped out for just his third start, and first as a three-year-old, in Wednesday's Grand Hotel Frankston Handicap (1300m) and led all the way.
Eurell has nominated the gelding for the Caulfield Guineas and the trainer's assistant Jim Mason indicated he would be given his chance to get to the Group One 1600m-race in October.
"He's always shown good ability and Greg nominated him for all the major races," Mason said.
"So hopefully he keeps stepping up.
"His next run will probably be in the Guineas Prelude."
Urban Ruler overcame difficulties to win at Ballarat on debut in March before finishing fifth in the VOBIS Gold Ingot at Caulfield in April.
He is at $35 for the Guineas after Wednesday's win.
With Damien Oliver aboard, Urban Ruler took up the running and had plenty in the tank late to stave off Peeking Duck to win by three quarters of a length with the same margin to Canalasso third.
Mason said they would not get carried away with a midweek win but said it was important the gelding got the job done at Sandown.
Oliver said it wasn't his plan to lead but said when Urban Ruler landed there early in the race he didn't want to relinquish the position.
"It felt like he controlled the race nicely but it did feel a bit foreign to him in front," he said.
"He's still a bit new in only his third start and had a good look around, but he responded well when I needed him."
Oliver believes Urban Ruler will be better with more experience and with something to chase.
"I think at this time of year if they're in and ready you've got to keep raising the bar to see how they stand up, because you never know. They can keep improving," he said.
G1 - The Bet365 Celebration Steeple Chase (class 1)
G3 - The Bet365 Gold Cup Steeple Chase (handicap) (class 1)
G1 - Aes Champion 4yo Hdle
Grade B - Setanta Sport H'cap Hdle
Grade B - Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe H'cap Chase