TRAINER Dan McCarthy is hoping to exploit a home track advantage with his stable star Ashlor in the Eldorado at Wangaratta on Sunday.
The $100,000 feature looms as a match race between Ashlor and the Patrick Payne-trained Widgee Turf with the pair meeting once previously at Moonee Valley last June.
Widgee Turf took the honours in that clash with only a neck separating the pair.
Fixed Odds markets are leaning towards Widgee Turf who is at $1.65, just ahead of Ashlor at $2.80.
The field comprises eight runners with Albury Gold Cup winner Willi Willi next best in the market at $13 and will be resuming from a spell.
"It certainly does look like a match race between Ashlor and Widgee Turf," McCarthy said.
"But in saying that you never know in small fields but they certainly look like the two that will clear out from the rest of them."
Ashlor was being set for last weeks Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield won by the outsider Booker.
But McCarthy was forced to reassess after this stable star contracted a virus in the lead-up.
"Unfortunately he got a bit of a virus but he seems fine now and his blood picture is a lot better."
Ashlor won on debut at Wangaratta in 2016 with tomorrow only his second start on his home track.
"The home track is a big advantage - especially in the heat," he said.
"We only have to walk over the road while they have to travel in 38 degree heat which is a big advantage.
"He is one win from one start on the track and hasn't been back since but knows his way around the track well which can only help."
Widgee Turf is an ultra-consistent sprinter who hasn't finished outside the placings in his past seven starts.
The slick sprinter finished runner-up in the $200,000 Chatham Stakes on the last day of the Flemington Spring Carnival.
Widgee Turf resumed with a third placing at Flemington last month.
McCarthy has removed the blinkers from Ashlor in a bid to assist his galloper run out a strong 1300m.
Ashlor is yet to win over 1200m.
"Just with the step-up in distance I've decided to take the blinkers off," he said.
"He tends to go a bit harder with the blinkers on."
McCarthy also looks to have a strong hand in the $35,000 Benchmark 64 Hcp, (1300m) with Blazing Ash.
Blazing Ash will be chasing a third consecutive win and is the early $4.50 pre-post favourite.
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