Grahame Begg admits the Summoned Stakes field is stronger than he anticipated but the trainer remains hopeful Vanuatu will deliver on a long-range plan in the Group Three race at Sandown.
Saturday's Summoned (1500m) for mares will be Vanuatu's third campaign start with the four-year-old winning first-up at Cranbourne before a close third in the Group Three Tesio Stakes (1600m) at The Valley.
The lightly raced mare, who has four wins from 10 starts, will be striving for her first stakes win on Saturday after gaining black-type for the first time with her Tesio placing.
"This is the race I picked out for her six months ago," Begg said.
"We're very happy with her going into the race and she has raced well at Sandown in the past.
"The race has probably come up a fraction stronger than I thought with mares like Noire in there, but she is going well. We couldn't be any happier with her."
Vanuatu has raced twice on the Hillside course at Sandown for a win and a minor placing, with her victory coming over the Summoned Stakes distance in May when she finished strongly in a benchmark race for fillies and mares.
The Robbie Griffiths-trained Fidelia, the $4.60 favourite, and the Chris Waller-trained Noire ($8.50) are coming through the Group One Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) at Flemington at their most recent starts.
Vanuatu, a $6 chance, was beaten less than half a length by Amangiri and Seewhatshebrings in The Tesio.
"Whether that form is strong enough for this race remains to be seen," Begg said.
"But the fact is this is the race we've set her for, she's had a good three weeks between runs and she's in great order."