A BENCHMARK rating of 63 looks set to be the mark needed to make the final field for Saturday week's $150,000 SDRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Albury.
A couple of likely runners have pulled the pin on the Championships over the last fortnight due to injury, while there remains some doubt over some others.
Blazen Diamond has undergone surgery for a fracture in her knee and will not take her place for new trainer Maddie Collins.
The Wayne Carroll-trained Rock 'N' Roller is a doubtful starter after pulling up with an issue from his first-up Canberra run on January 24.
Carroll faces a race against time to get the necessary amount of work into the horse to have him ready for 1400m on Saturday week.
"He'll be nominated but he had a hiccup and I'm not sure if he's going to be ready," Carroll said.
A number of Championship hopefuls will either run or trial at Wagga on Thursday. Mitch Beer's pair, Logan River and Cardinet will both race, while Tully Toff, Real Key and Jaytee's The Fox are down to trial.
Among the jockeys booked for the qualifier are Mathew Cahill (Yousay Bolt), Tyler Schiller (Real Key), Brodie Loy (Ilovesaki), Blaike McDougall (Bennelong Dancer), Logan River (Simon Miller), Takissacod (Byran Murphy) and Josh Richards (Gotta Want It).
News Girl 88, Perfect Illusion 82 (not certain), Logan River 73, Thistledo 72, Bennelong Dancer 72, Yousay Bolt 69, Gotta Want It 66, Maid In Milan 66, Ilovesaki 65, Real Key 65, Sky Call 65, Damselfly's Kept 65, Takissacod 64, Tully Toff 64, Azaryah 64, Bezos 63, Cardinet 63, Rock N Roller 63 (doubtful), Jaytee's The Fox 62, Let's Get Animal 61, Cathanda 59.
COROWA trainer Geoff Duryea says the barrier draw will decide whether News Girl will go around in Saturday week's Country Championships Qualifier.
Duryea will nominate and accept with News Girl, who is expected to start a short-priced favourite for the $150,000 feature.
She continued a brilliant preparation with a close second in group three company at Caulfield last Saturday, when she was just edged out by Sylvia's Mother.
"She's a good chance of running," Duryea said.
"The bottom line will be the barrier draw. If they say we don't want you to come and give us barrier 14, we'll go to Caulfield.
"Our preference is to go to Albury for two reasons. It's just down the road and the conditions suit her. But it will all come down to the barrier draw."
Albury-based jockey Jordan Mallyon has been booked to ride.
ALBURY jockey Blaike McDougall continued his rise with a group three victory at Hobart on Sunday.
McDougall travelled to Hobart for six rides on Cup day and landed the group three $150,000 Kevin Sharkie Bow Mistress (1200m) on Zargos ($12.00).
It continues a strong partnership with the Hayes-Dabernig stable for McDougall, who is on track for a personal best season.
MURRUMBIDGEE Turf Club is hopeful it will have a permanent replacement for Allan Hull by March.
In the interim, James Tait will call the Wagga race meeting on Thursday and Matt Jackson has the February 28 race meeting.
MTC chief executive Steve Keene hopes an announcement will be made soon regarding the position.
"A recommendation from Sky has been put to headquarters and now we're just waiting confirmation from Sydney," Keene said.
"They are fully aware of the importance of us having the one caller for the majority of our meetings."
ANOTHER Mitch Beer import will have his first Australian start on Saturday.
Group three placegetter Hanger will make his stable debut for Beer at Flemington in the $125,000 Benchmark 90 Handicap (1200m).
Damien Oliver has been booked to ride.
Hanger prepared for his Australian debut with a trial win at Canberra on January 24.
Beer is excited to see what the five-year-old son of O'Reilly can do.
"He's my Wagga Town Plate horse," Beer said.
"I'm looking forward to it."
IT WAS not to be for Charming Pat in Wednesday's rescheduled $2 million Inglis Millennium.
The Trevor Sutherland-trained colt finished 11th in the 12 horse field for the restricted two-year-old feature at Warwick Farm.
The race was postponed from Saturday to Wednesday due to the heavy rain that hit Sydney over the weekend.
WAGGA jockey Mick Travers is set for a stint on the sidelines after breaking his foot at Albury last week.
Travers was dislodged from Audrey's Destiny when she bucked shortly after the start.
Early indications are that Travers will be out for about six weeks but he will receive more information this week.
Travers was set to ride Azaryah in the SDRA Country Championships Qualifier but trainer Trevor Sutherland is now on the lookout for a new jockey.
THE racing community is mourning the loss of Clive Hulm.
Hulm was a life member of the Murrumbidgee Turf Club and a regular racegoer.
Hulm passed away, aged 87, earlier this month and a funeral service was held last Friday.
TUMUT Turf Club will hold its Cup meeting on Saturday.
The club has received 77 nominations for the six-race non-TAB card.
The $16,000 Garry Gillespie Constructions Tumut Cup (1400m) has attracted 15 entries, including the likes of Peter Korn's duo Uno Best and Uno That, Fermanagh Lad, Great Glen, Bondo and Delivered.
Uno Best has been given the top weight of 61 kilograms, ahead of Fermanagh Lad and Great Glen with 60.
Balranald Racing Club will also conduct its Cup meeting on Saturday, with the $14,500 feature over 1400m.
Thursday: Wagga (TAB)
Saturday: Tumut (non-TAB), Balranald (non-TAB)
Friday: Albury (TAB)
Tuesday: Young (TAB)
Friday: Wagga (TAB)
Saturday: Young (non-TAB)