Northernero may be lacking a little in race fitness but class should carry him through at Albury on Thursday, according to trainer Dan McCarthy.
The four-year-old has also drawn the outside barrier in the field of 11 in the Class 2 (1000m) which has McCarthy contemplating where the up and coming sprinter will position over the short distance.
McCarthy said Northernero was one of the more promising horses in his stable of 15 and he was looking forward to his return after a racing break of six weeks.
“He had a brief break just to have him right for the carnival at Albury and Wagga,” McCarthy said.
“He is a little bit soft in condition, but the positive is he is a smart horse.
“I would have loved him to draw better so he could get a cushy run, but he will jump from the outside and hopefully be too good for them.”
Northernero has been a dream cheap buy for “around $1500 to $2000” already earning just over $23,000 from his two wins and as many placings from four starts.
The gelding was purchased as an unbroken prospect at a bloodstock auction – the breeding of the galloper capturing the attention of McCarthy.
“I raced a nice horse called Kabrocco (5 wins from 16 starts) who was also by Kaphero – the sire of Northernero. This horse is a lovely type and a real stand out when he parades,” he said.
“Some of the owners of Kabrocco bought into him and so far it has been terrific with Northernero.”
McCarthy went as far to suggest that Northernero’s record could be even better after excuses when he finished second on debut and again at Canberra.
He won his next two starts at Albury in December and goes into his third start at the track with a perfect record.
“The horse that beat him at Dunkeld (Mr Midori) has now won three in a row and at Canberra he was caught wide and narrowly beaten,” he said.
“He has won his next two at Albury and is back there again with a claiming apprentice (Hannah Williams) aboard to reduce his weight down to 56 kilograms.”
McCarthy thought enough of Northernero to make the five and a half hour trip to Canberra, and while beaten, it further enhanced his trainer’s opinion of the horse.
Northernero wins at Albury on December 26
“He is more comfortable the New South Wales of racing, so while that means a little bit extra to travel from where I’m based at Wangaratta, it doesn’t matter if they have the ability and can be competitive,” he said.
“I really like this horse and he looks well placed at the weights after Hannah’s claim.”
Senior jockey John Kissick has been aboard Northernero at his past two wins – the first when he raced out of his grade to break his maiden status – and the next a runaway victory by almost three lengths in very fast time with 60.5 kilograms on his back.
McCarthy said he wanted to reward Williams with the ride as she had previously assisted the stable at jump outs and trackwork and felt this was the perfect opportunity for her to win.
McCarthy has one of the strongest team of horses under his care for some time and while the hours are always long the rewards have been there.
He will start at busy racing period with just Northernero starting on Thursday, but then the pace picks up again with runners for a few days straight including at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
The trainer often has a metropolitan class horse in his stable and hopes Northernero can continue to improve and reach that level.
“I think there are more positives than negatives with him on Thursday even though he hasn’t raced for a while and has drawn the outside barrier,” he said.
Kissick will ride Divine Caprice in the same race for the strong Tom Dabernig and Ben Hayes stable.
They have six runners engaged at the meeting with Kissick and the state’s leading jockey Blaike McDougall taking the mounts.
Meanwhile, the preview of the SDRA Country Championships will be an important lead-up to the $150,000 main event at Wagga on February 20.
Albury trainer Donna Scott has one of her contenders Halo Warrior in perfect form with two wins from his past three starts when McDougall has been aboard.
He will ride Force for Dabernig and Hayes with Matthew Cahill taking over on Halo Warrior.
There will be ten starters in the preview with Global Sanction already withdrawn, while there could be some doubt of Fusca starting from the outside barrier.
Albury trainers provide five of the starters with Dissedge (Ron Stubbs), Halo Warrior (Donna Scott), Takissacod (Norm Loy), Benjamery (Pat Widdup), and Hurry Up Harry (Kevin Hanley) all entered.