Trainer Sally Taylor will be hoping for a touch of deja vu when Lolly Shoppe steps out at Coffs Harbour on Tuesday in a race which carries her name.
Several Coffs Harbour trainers have sponsored races on the seven-event program and Lolly Shoppe will line up in the Sally Taylor Racing Benchmark 69 Handicap (1515m).
And with the Coffs Harbour track rated a soft 6 on Monday afternoon, Taylor said Lolly Shoppe will get ideal conditions to show her best.
And the stars could align further with jockey Matt McGurn partnering Lolly Shoppe for the first time since his one previous association with the mare last year - also at Coffs Harbour and on a rain-affected track.
"Matt has ridden her just that one previous time for a win and she will get another wet track on Tuesday which obviously suits her," said Taylor. "And it would be a nice touch to win 'my race' at the meeting."
Lolly Shoppe's most recent Coffs Harbour runs this preparation have been good.
She resumed there on January 14 when third Mishani Honcho and Elite Dubleo in the Pink Silks Up (1250m) and at her latest start there on February 25 finished third to Flaming Aces and Zuccherina in the Trevor Hardy Sprint (1305m). Sandwiched in between those two Coffs Harbour runs were rank failures in a Benchmark 75 Hcp (1200m) at Port Macquarie on January 26 and in the Walcha Cup (1440m) on February 9.
"She just found those races (Port Macquarie and Walcha) a bit tough and the tracks were also a bit firm for her, but overall I'm happy with how she's going this prep," said Taylor.
Taylor admits her main concern with Lolly Shoppe is the step up to the 1515n on Tuesday. The mare has not won beyond 1400m: "That's the main query with her," said Taylor. "But I think if there's genuine pace in the race and she can settle okay, she'll get the trip."
Port Macquarie galloper Dixie Lad, who lines up against Lolly Shoppe, will also appreciate soft conditions and a return to Coffs Harbour, but trainer Neil Godbolt believes the gelding is 'one run short'.
A three-time winner at Coffs Harbour and a galloper who relishes soft ground, Dixie Lad goes into Tuesday's race second-up after resuming with a seventh behind Music Magic over 1000m at Taree on February 26.
"He does get conditions to suit in Tuesday's race and I think he'll run well, but really I think he's a run short stepping up to the 1515m second-up," he said.
Gold Coast visitor Locus, coming off two good runs over 1400m in heavy ground at the Sunshine Coast in February, looks one the hardest to beat, along with the in-form Coffs Harbour mare Zuccherina and the Kempsey-trained gelding Wewonya are all proven in soft ground and look very hard to beat on their recent form.
Promising apprentice Cejay Graham will partner Zuccherina for trainer Brett Bellamy and will be keen to get back in the winning groove after being sidelined over the summer with a wrist injury.
Graham was building impressive winning momentum before the injury, riding six winners in the first week of November. She landed a double at the Grafton meeting on November 8 but fell later in the program, fracturing her left wrist. She resumed riding at Grafton on Sunday with one ride, finishing second on Desirable Miss.