Walcha trainer George Woodward is more concerned about the track rating than the major step up in distance for his tough country cups campaigner Loud Enough at Tuncurry on Friday.
Loud Enough has been a consistent performer in several country cup races around NSW this year and Woodward is expecting another strong performance from the six-year-old in Friday's $32,000 Tuncurry-Forster Tooheys XXXX Gold Cup (2100m).
Loud Enough is coming off a last-start fourth to New Endeavour in a 1400m Benchmark 74 at Scone on August 10 and has to step out to the 2100m on Friday, but Woodward isn't overly concerned.
"I would have preferred to have run him in an 1800m race leading into Friday's race, but I'm still sure he'll run really well again," said Woodward.
"All his previous runs over the longer trips have been good - he'll run the 2100m trip out okay on Friday.
"My main concern would be the track on Friday. He handles soft tracks okay, but he is definitely a better horse on top of the ground."
The Tuncurry track was rated a soft 7 on Wednesday afternoon. Loud Enough has been ultra-consistent for Woodward since he purchased the gelding from his good mate, Warwick Farm trainer Paul Cave, late last year.
In 19 starts for Woodward, Loud Enough has won three races and been placed 10 times. He has started in a host of country cups around NSW this year over a variety of distances and been competitive in nearly all of them.
After winning the Inverell Cup (1400m) on January 1, Loud Enough then finished third in the Summer Stayers Handicap (1900m) at Kempsey on January 9, third in the Walcha Cup (1440m) on February 9, second in the Quirindi Cup (1600m) on February 16, second in the Armidale Cup (1900m) on March 4, third in Armidale's Guyra Cup (1400m) on April 15, and a close fourth in the Gunnedah Cup (1600m) on May 27.
Loud Enough has usually run well on previous occasions when he has stepped out in races at 1700m to 2300m. "He's a fit and happy horse," said Woodward. "He's been so consistent since I got him last year from Paul and he deserves to win another one of these country cups.
"He's probably been unlucky not to win one or two more. After he won the Inverell Cup in January he was beaten about a nose in the Quirindi Cup and was a close second again the Armidale Cup."
Woodward has booked 1.5kg-claiming apprentice Cejay Graham to partner Loud Enough on Friday. The gelding will carry 57kg after her allowance.
"Cejay has ridden him a couple of times now and knows him really well. And they should get a good run after drawing ideally in gate four," said the trainer.
Wyong trainer Kim Waugh's in-form White Boots, chasing a fourth straight win, looks hard to beat despite drawing the outside gate (13). The Animal Kingdom four-year-old is coming off successive wins at Cessnock (1570m), Hawkesbury (1800m) and Canterbury Park (1900m). Top Sydney apprentice Jean Van Overmeire takes the ride on Friday.
Port Macquarie galloper Mister Smartee also looms as a major threat after his last-start third over 2100m in the Wyong Cup Prelude on August 26. The Tas Morton-trained four-year-old, who also relishes softer tracks, drew ideally in gate three in Friday's race.