Wagga galloper Another One has opened up a clear favourite for Saturday's $150,000 SDRA Country Championships Qualifier after a barrier draw that was less than kind to many of the top chances.
The Gary Colvin-trained Another One was installed as a $2.80 chance after drawing barrier 10 for the feature at Murrumbidgee Turf Club.
But another home runner, Chris Heywood's Blitzar ($8) will jump from gate 12 while Albury trainer Donna Scott drew the second widest barrier, 14, for her top hope Oamanikka ($4.40).
"You never want to draw out there but out of all my horses if something had to draw out there, it won't worry him too much," said Scott.
"He's not necessarily an on-pace horse. He's drawn out there before and won races, he's got the leading rider in Australia on him (Blaike McDougall) so hopefully he can find a bum and give him an easy run."
One of Scott's four runners, Oamanikka has won three of its last five starts and is coming off an impressive second at Moonee Valley two Fridays ago.
"We were over the moon. The horse was ready to go to the races and I didn't want to give him a big trip to Sydney. That race panned out ideal... we were using it more as a trial because I know how tough it is to go to the Valley and first time under lights, there were no expectations," Scott said.
"When he ran like he did... I thought it just brought him into it as much as horses like Mnementh and Another One which have been running super and have been to town."
Jerilderie hope Lady Brook ($6), the winner of last Friday's prelude at Wagga, fared better with barrier eight while Mitch Beer's Mnementh ($8) will launch from nine. Fellow Albury runner, topweight The Doctor's Son ($15), drew out in 13.
Scott thinks it's a highly competitive event and says the top six or eight chances are particularly strong
She rates Oamanikka as the best of her chances but said barrier three certainly helps Halo Warrior ($15), which is a chasing a third straight win but needs to settle in the first half of the field.
"It probably brings (Oamanikka) back a little bit to Halo Warrior. Before the draw come out, I didn't want to draw wide with Halo Warrior. He needed to draw a good gate to give him every chance so they're probably on an even playing field now," Scott said.
Mathew Cahill rides Halo Warrior which Scott said has pulled up well from the 1400m win in the class four Country Championships preview at Albury.
She also has the lightly-raced Bautista ($26) and Gottaluvtrucks ($101) in and said both deserve their shot.
The stable had a great thrill with Bennelong Dancer's win and two seconds in the last three years and hopes to be heading back to Sydney again.
"With these sort of races, you only get a chance once a year to have a crack at them," Scott said.
"I plan my whole 12 months around this race because it's a great incentive to be a chance. If you pull it off and win one, it's just massive for the owners and everyone to get that chance at that sort of prizemoney in your own area
"I'm going there hoping every horse is a chance. Some have better form than others but they're all there spot on and hopefully we can get one of them to the final.
"To be a chance of having a runner in a half-a-million dollar race - for a country horse, how often can that happen? As much as it's been great for Bennelong and the owners, to try and take some new owners and give them that experience at a big race meeting like that... it's a massive thrill.
"I've probably had my fair share of it. Even in this race, if we happen not to pull it off, I don't begrudge anyone else a chance to go and have that sort of experience that we've been lucky enough to have the last three years."
Barrier Draw: SDRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m)
- 1. The Doctor's Son (13) John Whitelaw / Brodie Loy
- 2. Oamanikka (14) Donna Scott/ Blaike McDougall
- 3. Halo Warrior (3) Donna Scott. Mathew Cahill
- 4. Another One (10) Gary Colvin/ Nick Heywood
- 5. Blitzar (12) Chris Heywood/Brock Ryan (a)
- 6. Mnementh (9) Mitchell Beer/ Jordan Mallyon
- 7. Bautista (11) Donna Scott/ John Kissick
- 8. Gottaluvtrucks (7) Donna Scott/ Brendan Ward
- 9. Tocatchacod (4) Scott Spackman/ Josh Richards (a)
- 10. Sizzling Cat (6) Gary Colvin/ Hannah Williams (a)
- 11. Previso (15) Mitchell Beer/ Kayla Nisbet
- 12. Nicotera (2) Geoff Duryea/ Richard Bensley
- 13. Lady Brook (8) Phil Sweeney/ Tyler Schiller (a)
- 14. Yousay Bolt (1) Ron Stubbs/ Adrian Layt
- 15. Takissacod (5) Norm Loy/ Shaun Guymer