Southern Highlands trainer James Rattray is hoping his first trip to Leeton Showgrounds provides the perfect start to a new year as Whereyabinboppin chases his first win in almost 12 months.
Owned and bred in the Riverina, Whereyabinboppin will be having his first start for his new stable in the $15,000 Leeton Pacers Cup (2582m) at the traditional New Year's night meeting.
Rattray is hopeful he can produce something special first up.
"We've just been trying to get him used to racing over a bit of distance and keeping him settled. He's been training really well and his trial (a win at Goulburn two weeks ago) was really good," Rattray said.
"I've never been to Leeton before... it's a bit of a small field and a tricky race but I think he'll settle and go really good.
"He's a talented horse... I think if things go his way he can definitely win."
Whereyabinboppin has drawn the outside in the six-horse feature and driver Charlie Castles might have some decisions to make early to find a spot to settle.
Narrandera trainer Ellen Bartley is aiming to claim the Griffith-Leeton Cups double with Nerano, which has drawn barrier three.
The ex-Kiwi won his first six starts for the Bartley-Blake Jones partnership but is coming off a second at Wagga behind So Much Bettor last start.
"It's been going great, and was very unlucky at its last start," Rattray said of the favourite.
Whereyabinboppin has won more than $100,000 in prizemoney, the bulk of it in 2020 thanks to seven wins from 12 starts, including two Group Three victories at Menangle for previous trainer Shane Sanderson.
The gelding also had three wins for Euroley trainer David Kennedy last year, and five for Junee's Steven Harris as a two- and three-year-old in 2018 and 2019.
A Leeton Cup win at start 28 would restore a 50 per cent winning strike rate for a gelding which won 11 of his first 16 races, but only one from seven in 2021 (winning over a mile at Newcastle in January).
Making the most of the trip to Leeton, Rattray believes the $15,000 Kriden Park Invitational Ladies Pace (1758m) is a 'nice race' for Island Bliss if she can get some luck.
The mare will be driven by Brooke McPherson and Rattray thinks she can handle the Leeton track. Island Bliss has been in form, with four wins (all at Young) in her last eight starts.
The stable also has Alliyah's Hope in the opening event, the TAB App Pace (1758m), chasing a second career win after breaking through at Canberra two starts back.
"She's got great manners and is drawn (barrier five) where she could use her gate speed a bit and I don't think the track will be any issue for her either," he said.
Kennedy has last-start winner Braedos Lad starting from barrier two in the Cup, while Louthario will be chasing a hat-trick of wins in the Milbrae Quarries Final (2147m), driven by Rodney Coelli, from gate seven.
Gary Lang and Jackson Painting are doing the same with Movin On Up in the $15,000 Golden Apple Super Store Final (2147m).
Leeton's seven-event New Year's meeting kicks off at 7.24pm Saturday night.
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