Gosford trainer Tony Newing was delighted to end a frustrating run with Balmaceda at Wagga last start and sees no reason why the lightly-raced gelding can't repeat that performance at Coffs Harbour on Friday.
A four-year-old son of Al Maher, Balmaceda ($2.70 favourite on TAB fixed odds) has won three of his 10 starts in a career that has been restricted because of his dislike for wet tracks.
But Balmaceda relished the firm track and the step up to 2000m at his fourth run this campaign in a Benchmark 66 Handicap at Wagga on May 19, dashing to the front just before the home turn and going on to win by almost two lengths.
He should get another good track at Coffs Harbour's Racing NSW Country Showcase meeting on Friday when he lines up in the $30,000 Reece Plumbing Cup Benchmark 74 Hcp (2000m).
"We've had a very frustrating time with him and have had to 'stop and start' with him about three times over the last year because of wet tracks," said Newing.
"At trackwork when it's wet his work is just terrible - he just can't get out of his own way."
Balmaceda's last-start Wagga win was his first success in almost exactly a year since he posted back-to-back wins over 1600m at Dubbo and Gosford last May.
He failed at his next two starts of that campaign on wet tracks at Randwick and Lismore before he headed for a spell.
Balmaceda resumed last November, but wet training tracks again frustrated Newing who decided to give him another break after he disappointed first-up at Dubbo.
Balmaceda kicked off his current campaign with an encouraging first-up second at big odds at Wellington on April 7, finishing second to odds-on favourite Super Cyclone in a Class 2 over 1400m.
He backed that up at his next start at Muswellbrook on April 22 when just beaten by In Good Health (a subsequent Newcastle winner) in a Benchmark 66 over 1500m.
Balmaceda was beaten on a soft track at Newcastle at his next outing, but bounced back on a Good 4 at Wagga last time out on May 19.
"He surprised me with his first-up run because I didn't think he was wound up enough, so that run showed me he could be in for a good preparation," said Newing.
"Getting him back on a good track and stepping him up to the 2000m was the key to him at Wagga last start and it was great to see him back winning after all the frustrations we've had.
"He ran his last 600m at Wagga in around 34 seconds which shows he ran the 2000m right out and I think he should be very hard to beat over the same trip on Friday.
"I've always thought that with maturity he'd eventually run out a strong 2400m."
Newing's one concern on Friday is barrier 10 for the forward-running Balmaceda.
"Ideally we'd like to go forward but from that draw, we'll just have to keep an open mind, let him find his feet and see what happens," he said.
All going well after Friday's race, Newing is then planning to head to Grafton with Balmaceda during the July carnival.
"I'll give him an easy couple of weeks and then head to Grafton with him for a couple of races - the Grafton Cup Prelude (June 30) and maybe a Class 6 over 2200m (July 10)."
Balmaceda's main rivals at Coffs Harbour on Friday look to be the Kris Lees-trained Proud Captain ($4.60), the Gold Coast gallopers Fairlighting ($6) and Meteorologist ($8), and the Ballina mare I'll Miss You ($16).
Well-bred filly Jazette ($3.50 fav) chases back-to-back wins at Coffs Harbour on Friday but will have to overcome an outside alley when she tackles the Reln Class 1 Hcp (1400m).
The Fastnet Rock-Tarcoola Diamond three-year-old is a sister to 2014 Group Two Theo Marks Stakes winner Cluster and the smart Newcastle mare Miss Que.
Previously with Joe Pride for her first two starts, Jazette resumed for the Kris Lees stable when she easily won her Maiden at Taree on May 13.
One of her rivals on Friday is the ex-Perth galloper Scarlet Missile ($7) who has drawn the inside gate and could improve sharply on his first-up run for Armidale trainer Stirling Osland at Tamworth on May 14.
Ex-Victorian galloper See It Thru ($2.90 fav) is an interesting runner in the Halgan Class 2 Hcp (1000m).
Formerly trained in Victoria by Michael Kent, See It Thru hasn't appeared since he made a winning debut at Sale back on February 20 last year.
Now with Ballina trainer Stephen Lee, the four-year-old geared up for his return with a close second in a Grafton barrier trial over 1015m on May 17 when he wasn't put under any pressure.
The rail will be in the true position for Friday's eight-race Showcase meeting - carrying total prizemoney of $240,000 - and the Coffs Harbour track on Thursday was rated a Good 4.