WODONGA trainer David O'Prey says the turf club-owned Providential is capable of mixing it with the highly rated Gold Cup field on Friday.
The nine-year-old gelding has placed in its last three starts, and combined with a friendly barrier draw looms as a possible smokey.
“It's his fifth run in, so he's primed to run the 1600 metres,” O'Prey said.
“He's been racing a bit more forward than usual, so hopefully he can get a bit of a sit.”
The step up into a higher class will also benefit Providential in terms of weight.
Race favourite Tashbeeh ($2.50) is carrying the top weight of 60.5 kilograms, while Providential drops back to 54 after carrying no less than 57 since resuming.
“That'll be a big help for him,” O'Prey said.
“I'm sure he'll give the members a good sight, he gives a good kick and fights pretty hard.
“If they leave him alone or he has a nice run in transit he won't be far away.”
O'Prey said positioning would be key on the narrow Wodonga track, but said the conditions would likely suit all runners.
“He was only a few lengths back in this race last year in a record time,” he said.
“I think he was a bit unlucky to get held up on the corner.
“But I think he’s running better than he was last year, we’ve been able to put a few little issues with his back behind him.
“He usually lets down pretty well, and all his runs this time around have been full of merit.
“We’d like to get a little bit of cover around that corner, but it depends on the tempo.
“I believe the tempo plays a big part in it, if he gets left alone early he’ll have something more to give at the end.
“Hopefully (jockey) Darren Gauci can take care of that for us.”
More than anything, O’Prey his hoping Providential can rise to the occasion and bank his first win since February last year.
“They always get a strong field for this race,” he said.
“Master Reset has gone on to be a strong horse since winning here last year, which is good to see.
“It’ll be a good test for the old fella against some stronger horses, what with David Hayes bringing a group horse (Tashbeeh) and Entre Nous being an up and coming local horse.
“It’ll be a big buzz, for sure.”
Tashbeeh opened as a $2.50 favourite ahead of Gerald Egan-trained Entre Nous and Michael Maroney-trained Loyalty Man ($3.50), while Providential is listed as a $31 long shot.
Four of the entrants are eligible for the Vobis Gold $20,000 bonus for $90,000 race.