Trainer Tim Donnelly has to rely more than ever on 40 years of experience after a recent trackwork accident forced him to reevaluate his career.
The astute horseman has vowed not to ride track work again after the fall left him with a fractured neck and needing to wear a neck brace for support for several weeks.
Donnelly, who looked after a host of champion racehorses during his days in Sydney but none greater than one of the best of all time in Kingston Town, said it was time to quit the saddle.
The 63-year-old will have four starters at Wagga on Friday and said it was different not being directly involved by the feel each galloper gave him when he rode them as opposed to feedback from his track work jockeys and from what he sees from his early morning rituals.
Donnelly will saddle up one of his best chances Lunar Shoes in The Lamont Classic (1300 metres) for two-year-olds and he will also start honest mare Dolphina, and the lightly raced Blushing Mary and Almandra.
The trainer praised his staff - Rebecca Prest, Heini Ede and Emily Harrison - for taking over all of the trackwork duties.
"They have been so good since I was hurt and have really stepped up," he said.
"I would jump on a horse again tomorrow if I could, but this fall was a bit of a sign to give riding away.
"I have been lucky up until now and it's the sensible thing to do."
Donnelly is very much hands on so not being able to ride has been frustrating as he relied a lot on his own "feel for the horse."
"I used to do everything by the eye and rely on the feedback from some very good jockeys when I was in Sydney so I have gone back to doing that," he said.
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Donnelly hopes the experience from two race starts provides some advantage to Lunar Shoes in the feature race.
There are five debutants in the 11-horse field and that could provide the edge to Lunar Shoes after a third and a fourth in two career starts against older horses.
"They had the experience and that was the difference whereas Lunar Shoes has the race experience this time," he said.
"He gets back to two-year-old grade and on his home track which is also a bonus."
Of the debutants, Offspring has a pedigree that suggests she will perform being by Zoustar and a half sister to outstanding mare, Single Gaze.
Fox Appeal won a trial at Tatura on May 18, while trainer James Ponsonby will run Pine Valley and Sonny Fella.
Trainer Paul Murray will have Spitfire Sun ready for his debut while owner Noel Penfold will have dual representatives in She's A Hot Cod and Smokin' Cod.
Wagga trainer and jockey Michael Travers will also be giving Century Fox his first start for him after two runs in Victoria.
Meanwhile, Donnelly expects Dolphina to run well in the Benchmark 74 (1400m) after a recent setback where she was scratched from the Wagga carnival.
One of the most consistent gallopers in training, Dolphina suffered some muscle damage in an incident but has recovered.
"She is a little beauty and will run well although the distance is a bit short for her," he suggested.
Blushing Mary won two of her first three starts and wasn't far away last start when fourth at Albury at her second start back from a spell.
"She gets back to Wagga and is at the right distance. She likes to lead and is drawn better after having to come from some wide barriers," he said.
"She has also won on a heavy ten track at Wagga."
Unique Prince has strong credentials for the same race after a strong third last start at Wagga behind River Mac and Keep It Down who dead-heated for first.
River Mac and Keep It Down both won at their next starts to further support the last run of Unique Prince.
The trainer's other starter, Almandra, ran fifth on debut and Donnelly expects him to improve with racing as he steps up in distance.
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