ALBURY trainer Kevin Hanley will make a rare venture to the city with his in-form mare Eklands at Warwick Farm today.
Eklands has won her past two starts at Albury and Dubbo by a combined margin of 13.3 lengths, prompting Hanley to target city success.
The noted mudlark thrives on rain-affected going, but with the Warwick Farm track expected to be rated a good (3), it has dented Hanley’s confidence.
“The good track is probably not ideal and I would be a lot more confident if it was rain affected,” he said.
“She has won on a good track but just seems to relish the sting out of the ground.
“But she’s fit and I haven’t had to do a lot with her since she won at Dubbo.
“She has done everything right since her last run and I couldn’t be happier leading into the race.”
Eklands will carry the minimum weight of 54 kilograms, with Brenton Avdulla booked to replace regular jockey Simon Miller.
Miller has partnered Eklands to all four of her wins, but struggles to make the 54-kilogram weight.
“It’s a pity Simon can’t make the weight otherwise he would be riding her,” he said.
“I think we have got a pretty handy replacement though in Avdulla.
“Hopefully she can jump well from barrier 3 and lead or at least settle handy.
“With her light weight she can give them something to chase and show plenty of fight over the final furlong.”
Hanley has only had a handful of metro starters since his last city success with Leica Ferrari, who won at Caulfield in 2004.
“I reckon I’ve had about four runners in the city since she won,” he said.
“Canny Groove got beaten a whisker at Flemington and Cosmic Fury finished fourth at Moonee Valley.
“So if Eklands can produce something similar I will be rapt.”
Eklands is quoted as a $35 chance in TAB fixed odds markets.