HE'LL be flying the flag for the Riverina, but Chris Heywood isn't feeling any pressure ahead of the Gold Cup.
The lively Wagga trainer was buoyant about High Opinion's chances in the feature race on Friday, despite the competition.
Up against some of racing's heavyweights in Gai Waterhouse, Lee Freedman and Peter Moody, Heywood said the four-year-old gelding would have its work cut out for it, but it wasn't the be all and end all.
“We're not feeling nervous about the race at all,” he said.
“We know we've got some tough opposition, which will be difficult.
“But we'll try hard, I think he's a capable horse.
“He's probably the best horse to come from our area (in the Cup), but it's definitely hard when you're going up against horses of this calibre.
“That being said, everyone has to be knocked over at some stage and it would be a privilege if we were the ones to do it.”
A highly-touted favourite for last Saturday's Corowa Cup, High Opinion ran fourth behind Brian Cox-trained duo Baby Jack and Bringenbrong.
His last two wins were over 1000m and 1200m in Cootamundra and Canberra respectively, but Heywood says the extra distance will suit.
The bay gelding has run everywhere from Rosehill to Morphettville.
“He'll go well in Albury, he'll like having the extra space around him,” he said.
“1800 metres is the furthest he's gotten out to.
“He's screaming out for the extra distance though.
“Without winning, his most recent starts have all been quite good.
“Hopefully he gets a good run, I certainly think he could surprise a few.”
Heywood is also counting on two crucial factors to help him over the line.
One is High Opinion's unbeaten record at the Albury racecourse.
The other is the personal investment in the jockey – Heywood's son Nick.
“High Opinion has had one start for one win at Albury, so hopefully we can keep that record going,” he said.
“And I'll back Nick in to put in a good ride as well.
“He's going really well with his apprenticeship, he's got another 18 months or so to go before he's done with that.
“It'd be huge if we could get a win in the Cup together, it would be a real privilege to win a big race like this one.
“It's probably the biggest race he's been a part of so far, so I'm excited to see how he goes.”
Nick rode High Opinion to his most recent win, a BM60 Handicap (1200m) in Cootamundra in October last year.
High Opinion is a $26 chance behind David Hayes and Tom Dabernig's Tashbeeh ($3.50) and Lee and Anthony Freedman's Tom Melbourne ($2.20).