Desert Lightning's chances are boosted by the small field and the spacious Pukekohe track, and he carries a manageable 54kg.

Performance in the upcoming race will determine Desert Lightning's participation in the Couplands Mile

Depending on how he performs in the upcoming race, a decision will be made regarding Desert Lightning's participation in the Couplands Mile at Riccarton, a race he could excel in, given his current 78 rating.

"We won't make any decision one way or another on that until after Saturday," said Williams.

One commitment Williams has made is to compete in what promises to be one of the season's standout races, the new $1 million Aotearoa Classic, slated for Karaka Millions night at Ellerslie on January 27, provided the new track is ready.

This prestigious race could bring together a stellar lineup of contenders, including Legarto, Prowess, Sharp 'N' Smart, Pier, Wild Night, Desert Lightning, rising star Adam I Am, and possibly even Tarzino Trophy winner Skew Wiff.

The Williams stable, despite having just 22 horses, plans to step up their efforts as the tracks dry, with Volare emerging as one to watch.

Volare, part-owned by former Prime Minister Sir John Key, recently delivered a strong third-place finish in a trial, closely trailing Desert Lightning, and has a history of success at Pukekohe.

In a related development, Legarto is gearing up for a trip to Sydney for the A$10 million Golden Eagle, following an exhibition gallop in Rotorua. Fit and ready, Legarto is set to fly to Sydney next Tuesday for the four-year-old race at Rosehill on Saturday. Mick Dee will be in the saddle for this exciting venture.