Sunshine Coast trainer Garnett Taylor has been to countless tracks throughout Queensland over the years, but hopes to make an immediate impact on his very first visit to Grafton on Wednesday.
Taylor will saddle up promising three-year-old Bold Assassin, one of the key hopes in the $80,000 Tursa Inglis Bonus Grafton Guineas (1600m). Wednesday's Guineas looks a strong edition of the race which is an excellent support race to the feature event, the $160,000 GDSC Ramornie Hcp (1200m).
"I've been to a lot of racetracks over the years, but this will be my first trip to Grafton," said Taylor, who moved from Rockhampton to the Sunshine Coast six years ago.
Taylor obviously wasn't impressed with Bold Assassin's outside draw in the 16-horse field, but still expects the three-year-old to run well if he gets the right breaks.
"Obviously you'd like to draw in a bit closer, but his racing pattern is to get back anyway. I've spoken to a few trainers about the Grafton track and they tell me it does suit swoopers. And (jockey) Ryan Wiggins has ridden at Grafton a fair bit and he thinks the track will suit the horse.
"He really needs roomier tracks. Doomben doesn't suit him at all so he's been doing his recent racing at the Sunshine Coast."
Bold Assasssin was bred by owner Graham Cleary who has raced horses with Taylor over many years. The Zariz-Princess Chloe gelding has won three races and been placed another six times in his 13 starts to date.
"Graham raced the dam and the grandmother (Sweet Chloe) and I've trained most of this family," said Taylor.
Bold Assassin looks like he could be the best of them. He showed at his most recent start that he was a galloper with some future after charging home late to finish second to the talented NZ visitor The Bostonian on a heavy eight in the Group Three Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) on June 30.
"The heavy eight track was the query with him that day and he will definitely prefer the firmer track at Grafton," said Taylor.
"I'm not saying he should have beaten The Bostonian, but he was pushed to the inside where the going was worse. If he'd been able to get to the outside he might have made it interesting.
"He's a 110 per cent, and I don't think the Grafton Guineas is any stronger than the Sunshine Coast Guineas field. And the Sunshine Coast 1600m is a tough 'mile' and he was very strong at the finish. I guess my main concern though on Wednesday is that he's on a week and a half back-up."
The likely favourite for the Grafton Guineas is another Queensland visitor, the Chris Anderson-trained Mishani Bullitt, who is coming off a last-start fourth in The Bostonian's Sunshine Coast Guineas.
Mishani Bullitt has raced well throughout the winter carnival, including back-to-back placings behind the classy Newcastle three-year-old Perast at Doomben in May. He has been placed twice in five previous runs over the 1600m.
Queensland runners also look like playing a major hand in Wednesday's Ramornie, with Gold Coast trainer Toby Edmonds to saddle up two of the favourites Tyzone (barrier seven and Havasay (barrier two) and the outsider Siegfried.
Edmonds said Tyzone had freshend up nicely since his last-start narrow defeat in the Eye Liner Stakes over 1350m at Ipswich on June 16. Stable newcomer Havasay (previously with Liam Birchley) was an eye-catching third to Spright and Tumbler in the Healy Stakes (1200m) at Doomben on June 23 at his first run for Edmonds.