Albury trainer Brett Cavanough will look to extend his record winning run in Sunday’s home SDRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) with Ruark.
Cavanough is the only trainer to have won the two Qualifiers, both in Wagga.
Loved Up won the inaugural race in 2014, with Steakandbernaise claiming last year’s crown.
“Ruark showed a lot of ability as a young horse,” Cavanough said.
“He had a throat operation, he had a breathing obstruction, which has been corrected.”
And it will be enormously emotional if the four-year-old can win.
“The horse was owned by Trevor Parker (stock agent) who died 12 months ago after being badly burned in an accident on his property,” Cavanough said.
“Ruark had been just lying around in a paddock after the accident so I asked his wife (Bernadette) what she wanted to do.
“I said we should have a throw at the stumps and go for the Country Championships and she agreed.”
Ruark hasn’t been seen since finishing fifth on his home track last March.
“He had a soft barrier trial, which we were happy with,” Cavanough said.
“He’s got ability b) he’s very fit and he probably just hasn’t got the match practice of the other horses.”
Cavanough says there’s no standout for the $150,000 race.
“A lot of the horses are second up, first up, and as much as it will be hard to win it, it looks pretty much a B grade race to me for the prizemoney,” he said.
“I don’t think our area has probably got a horse that’s won three or four straight.
“Levee Bank will roll along in front, it’s got match fitness, it will be hard to beat probably.
“(Geoff) Duryea’s horse (Challenge Accepted) has got to be somewhere around the money, he went good the other day at Wangaratta.
“That’s what makes it a great part of the concept, it gives everyone a chance.”
Cavanough can see a comparison with Ruark and reigning champion, Steakandbernaise.
“He knocked the favourite off, he showed ability,” he said.
“He was was out of order when he won it, a left-fielder.
“Ability-wise, he’s definitely as good as Steakandbernaise, but like Steakandbernaise he’s got issues that he’d had to overcome.
“It will be a massive effort on the staff’s behalf and everyone’s behalf if we can get him to run in the first two, first-up, over 1400 for 12 months.”
The race starts at 4.40pm.