Gold Coast trainer Marcus Wilson heads to Lismore on Thursday with two runners who have had vastly different outcomes from their previous two appearances at the track.
Tough stayer Meteorologist hasn't had much go right in his two previous Lismore runs, but the gelding can certainly bounce back when he returns to the track for Thursday's XXXX Gold Open Handicap (2100m).
Stablemate Fanx, on the other hand, is unbeaten in his two runs at the track and is striving to maintain a perfect Lismore record when he tackles the Laser Plumbing & Electrical Lismore Benchmark 66 Hcp (1400m).
Wilson paid only $8000 for Meteorologist as a yearling and the son of Northern Meteor, now an eight-year-old, chases the 10th win of his career in Thursday's race.
Meteorologist has certainly been a bargain for the Wilson stable, earning almost $335,000 in his 92 starts - and he isn't finished yet. He has won on six different tracks, including Warwick Farm, but he hasn't had much luck in either of his two previous runs in Lismore Cups.
That was especially the case in last year's Lismore Cup when he was virtually knocked out of the race on the first turn after Latino Boy dislodged his rider right in front of him.
"We thought he was a good chance in last year's Lismore Cup, but after he copped the interference he was out of the race. He probably ended up 20 lengths off them and virtually jogged around behind them back in the field," said Wilson.
Meteorologist shows no signs yet that retirement is looming and goes into Thursday's race off the back of several recent strong performances.
His most recent win was at Grafton over 2220m in March, before strong seconds over 2200m at Eagle Farm on April 27 and at Coffs Harbour at his most recent start on May 31 when he closed late to be beaten just over a length behind I'll Miss You in a Benchmark 74 over 2000m.
"He's racing very well and should be hard to beat over the 2100m on Thursday," said Wilson. "He just missed out (second to Sir Barnabus) at a Saturday meeting at Eagle Farm three starts back and his last run at Coffs Harbour was also good. He had to get back from his awkward gate at Coffs Harbour and I really liked his last 50m when he really finished off the race strongly.
"He's not getting any younger, but shows no sign that retirement is close - he'll tell us when that time comes.
"He's done a terrific job for a horse who only cost $8000 and I think he might have won a few more races if Eagle Farm hadn't been out of action for so long. He really needs the bigger tracks like Eagle Farm to do his best."
Wilson opted for Thursday's Lismore assignment for Meteorologist in preference to a run at Saturday's Ipswich Cup meeting.
"I was considering running him at Ipswich on Saturday in the Provincial Stayers race over 2500m, but really the Ipswich track doesn't suit him, so he'll go to Lismore instead," said Wilson.
Wilson's main concern for Meteorologist's chances on Thursday is the likelihood of a rain-affected track which was rated at soft 7 on Wednesday morning.
"He handles all surfaces, but at Lismore when it's wet it tends to favour horses closer to the fence and it can be hard to make ground out wider," he said.
Meteorologist will be ridden by Michael Cahill, who has been having a memorable winter carnival in Queensland, landing feature wins aboard The Bostonian (Doomen 10,000 and Kingsford-Smith Cup), Fun Fact (Grand Prix Stakes) and The Candy Man (Premier's Cup).
Ryan Plumb will partner Fanx, who has to carry the 62kg topweight in the Benchmark 66 (1400m). Fanx's two previous Lismore wins were in a Class 1 last August and a Benchmark 58 in September.
"Fanx has a good record at Lismore but he does have to carry the 62kg. However, he has won with 60kg and 61kg before.
"Ryan knows him really well and has won several races on him and, being a heavyweight rider, won't have to carry too much dead weight." Plumb has partnered Fanx in three of his four career wins.
Ex-Sydney galloper My Song looks one of the hardest for Fanx to beat after the booking of 3kg-claiming apprentice Emily Atkinson. My Song was the equal topweight with Fanx with 62kg, but will now carry 59kg in Friday's race.
Formerly trained by Gary Moore, My Song will be lining up for his third run since joining the Ballina stable of Stephen Lee.
The four-year-old, who won three of his 15 starts for Moore, battled on strongly at his second run this preparation when beaten just over 1.5 lengths when fourth to Nistelrooy in a Benchmark 66 over 1400m at Grafton on May 6.
Gold Coast mare They Call Me Rose is usually hard to beat in races over 1400m on Northern Rivers tracks and should be in the firing line for a long way.