Leading Albury trainer Mitch Beer has opted for a change of path with stable star Sunrise Ruby heading towards the $150,000 SDRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m).
Beer had planned to run Sunrise Ruby at Randwick on Saturday but will trial the mare at Albury on Thursday instead.
She will now have her first-up run at Wagga on Thursday week in the Newhaven Park Country Championship Preview - Class Four Handicap (1200m).
That will lead her into the feature at Wagga on February 19.
"I'm just going to give her a quiet trial (on Thursday) and then run her in the 1200 metre preview. I just didn't think she needed a trip to Sydney before it," Beer explained.
Beer believes the programming of the 1400m preview at Albury on Thursday and the 1200m option at Wagga a week later are the wrong way around. That is a view shared by a number of trainers.
Sunrise Ruby has not raced since finishing ninth in The Kosciuszko at Randwick last October. She ran third in a trial behind Oamanikka a fortnight ago at Albury.
"She was probably for the first time in her life, she was a bit above herself the other day. She jumped and she was really keen and fought Simon (Miller) early. She went hard early and knocked up a bit late," Beer said.
"Her last couple of gallops have been super so I reckon going that 1200 and 10 days later second-up 1400, I think she'll certainly be looking for the seven furlongs this prep.
"I made the mistake last year, I took Mnementh to this very Highway (on Saturday), and he sat three and four deep and just got beat and it was a massive run. But it flattened him for the final so that's why with Sunrise Ruby, I'd just like to keep her at home."
Beer has had a change of mind with Power Me Up, who will now join Sunrise Ruby, Swagger, Scarlet Prince, Mnementh and Snowbella in the Qualifier.
Power Me Up, Mnementh and Swagger will also trial on Thursday.
Miss Isolation could also join Beer's Championships team should she win at Albury on Thursday.
SATURDAY's Highway Handicap at Randwick will again prove a crucial lead-up race for the SDRA Country Championships Qualifier.
Tim Donnelly's unbeaten three-year-old Participator is due to resume in the $100,000 TAB Highway Class Three Handicap (1200m).
Participator trialled at Albury last month and then had a quiet exhibition gallop alongside Another One at Wagga last week. The Highway will be his one and only race leading into the qualifier.
Hugh Bowman will take the ride from barrier 10.
Also in the Highway is one of Gary Colvin's team, Nic's Hero. He is pushing towards the Country Championships after resuming with a first-up fourth at Wagga last week. He is drawn barrier three with Brock Ryan in the saddle.
Mitch Beer also has Scarlet Dream in the Highway, as well as a race at Moonee Valley on Friday night. He is leaning slightly towards the Sydney option in what will be the three-year-old's final hit-out before the Qualifier.
Simon Miller will ride wherever he goes.
ALBURY trainer Donna Scott will head to Caulfield on Saturday with two stable runners.
Oamanikka will have his final hit-out before the SDRA Country Championships Qualifier in the $130,000 Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m).
Takissacod will take on the $130,000 Benchmark 78 Fillies & Mares Handicap (1400m).
Both have drawn wide and have Blaike McDougall in the saddle.
A LEG injury to Brendan Ward has forced a jockey change for Blitzar's Country Championships tilt.
Ward was aboard as Blitzar returned to winning form with an impressive victory in the Wagga Scamper last week.
Ward sustained a leg injury in a fall at Sapphire Coast on Saturday and will now be sidelined for the next few weeks.
Trainer Chris Heywood has booked talented apprentice Amy McLucas for Thursday week's preview at Wagga, with an eye towards the feature the following week.
THE Ron Stubbs-trained mare Boss Lady Rocks picked up a Saturday metropolitan placing at Moonee Valley last weekend.
Boss Lady Rocks ran a big race up on the speed and was just edged out, finishing third, beaten less than a length, in the $130,000 Benchmark 70 Fillies & Mares Handicap (1000m).
Ridden by Brett Prebble, it was the mare's first crack at city grade at just her seventh start.
All eyes will be on Stubbs' debutant, Sparring, at Albury on Thursday in the 900m maiden. He has also firmed from $2.40 into $1.75 with TAB, having won a trial by 11 lengths last month.
Kooringal Stud will be hoping the progeny of Prized Icon can make their mark at the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale next week.
Kooringal Stud will sell seven yearlings at the sale, with six from the first crop of dual group one winner Prized Icon.
Stud manager Angus Lamont has high hopes for the sales.
"We've got seven selling and six of them are by Prized Icon. The first ones by him at the market," Lamont said.
"There's some that are pretty handy and out of some nice mares."
Among them is a Prized Icon colt out of Maltese, making him a half brother to Diamond Tathagata and Ancestry.
Lamont said that particular colt was not necessarily the pick of the crop.
"Obviously syndicators are keen on a horse like that but there's a couple of others that I particularly like more on type than him," Lamont said.
"One of them is out of Miss Cacciatore, she's had a couple of nice updates since. Jamarra, who was sold online, he's had four four starts for a win at Bendigo, a second at Caulfield and third at Flemington as a two-year-old just now.
"There's some nice mares among them."
Kooringal did not sell at the Magic Millions this year, choosing to have several in the one draft rather than split them up.
They will again experiment with an online sale on Inglis Digital with another group of yearlings to be sold through that format from February 18-23.
"I'm not shying away from that, being (Prized Icon's) first season, I needed to show some of them off, take them to the market and then hopefully get a bit of interest from there," Lamont said.
"There's certainly some demand there (for the online auction). I think if we can keep doing it. You've got to grow your brand."
Kooringal will have an open day on February 18.
Thursday: Albury (TAB)
Friday: Albury (TAB)
Tuesday: Temora (TAB)
Thursday: Temora (TAB)
Saturday: Wagga (TAB)
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