Cambridge trainer Roger James is taking a low-key approach to tomorrow's Gr I A$500,000 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm but says he won't be surprised if Red Shift is commanding more attention after the race.
Lucky Unicorn three-year-old gelding Red Shift goes into the Classic with just one Australian leadup under his belt, a meritorious effort for third in last month's Gr III Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Doomben.
Australia's TAB Sportsbet yesterday had Red Shift as an $18 eighth favourite, though the New Zealand TAB was even more generous with a $21 quote.
"He's really well,'' James said from Brisbane yesterday.
"From the time he's got here, he's absolutely thrived. I thought his run the other day was solid without being flashy and he appears to have gone on with it.
"I thought his work on Tuesday was really good and his work again this morning was nice. I'm very happy with him.
"He's very much a horse who has flown under the radar. It is quite a solid field and there's any one of half a dozen who have got claims on it.
"But he's as honest as the day is long. He will get the trip and he's dead-ready. He'll get a soft run from the draw [barrier five] and I'd like to think he could finish in the first four.''
Red Shift transferred to James after the New Zealand Derby, in which he finished seventh for Matamata trainer Regan Donnison.
He was sold just prior to the Derby and co-owner OTI Racing, managed by Terry Henderson and former Australian cricketer Simon O'Donnell, chose James as his new trainer.
"The Queensland Derby was always the obvious next target and they knew I regularly came over here so they asked me if I would bring him up,'' James said.
James produced Red Shift for the first time when an eye-catching fifth in a 2000m three-year-old race at Te Rapa on April 28, chasing home second-placed Vittoria, who placed in last weekend's Gr I Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm and is again a rival tomorrow.
Vittoria, co-owned by Cambridge couple Russell and Robyn Rogers who train the filly in New Zealand, and Red Shift join the favourite Brambles, prepared by Melbourne's Peter Moody, as the three runners to carry the OTI Racing colours of navy and gold hoops in tomorrow's race.
Red Shift, the mount of top Sydney jockey Glyn Schofield, will be out to provide James with his first win in the Queensland Derby after two close misses.
"I haven't had many runners, probably only a couple. Melora was beaten a neck [in 1998] after being beaten a head and a nose in the Queensland Oaks and Skoozi ran third in the  Derby.
"I was thinking today and I can't recall much else I've run in the Derby. I've had more fillies over here really.''
Back home, James will produce stakes-winning filly Holy Moly in the $15,000 Sensortronic Scales 1600 at Te Rapa.
Holy Moly, a dual acceptor also balloted for the 1200m Rating 75 event but set to run over 1600m, won the Listed Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) at Ellerslie in the spring before finishing third in the Gr III Sarten Memorial (1400m) at Te Rapa, chasing home Antonio Lombardo and Anabandana, but beating home Artistic and Chicharita.
She ran home strongly for fourth at Te Rapa last start and gets the benefit of barrier one tomorrow, with top jockey Michael Coleman booked to ride.
"She's been a bit flat getting a mile so far but she's got a lovely draw and we'll give her another opportunity at it,'' James said.
"Her work this week has been very good.''
James also has The Tidy Express and Le Moussier entered for Te Rapa but said Le Moussier may not run unless the track improved.
"He can turn around his form if he gets reasonable footing,'' James said of Le Moussier.
"He really got wiped out on the turn last time. I've always thought he's a staying horse in the making and that was his first run over ground, and he just got stopped in his tracks and had the wind knocked out of his sails.''
Meanwhile, James will welcome Gr I New Zealand Derby winner Silent Achiever back into the stable next week as she begins the early part of her training ahead of a spring campaign.