Spunlago is accustom to carrying big weights and winning at Wagga, but on Thursday he will be asked to take it a step further in the Rodney Parsons OAM Handicap (1400m).
Albury trainer Ron Stubbs has Spunlago ($5.50 into $4.80 on TAB fixed odds) ready to race after a let-up and one trial, but with 63 kilograms on his back it’s a weighty issue he isn’t sure about.
Spunlago won the Ted Ryder Cup (61kg) and the League Of Their Own Mile (60.5kg) late last year at Wagga.
“The weight is a concern. He was nominated for Flemington on Saturday, but they are too good for him there so I have locked in this race with the weight, see how he goes, and assess after that,” Stubbs said.
“The Albury and Wagga Cups are his targets all being well.”
Spunlago has form over one of his main rivals, Noble Descent ($3.40 into $2.90 favourite), which ran third to him in the Ted Ryder Cup in December.
Spunlago’s regular jockey Matthew Cahill will miss the ride through suspension and Stubbs has called on the services of Chad Lever for the first time.
Stubbs is in his second stint at training after decades out of the industry and since returning he has prepared 11 winners from 53 starters.
His place percentage sits at 40%, while he also prepares Yousay Bolt who is one of the main contenders for next week’s Country Championships qualifier at Albury.
Noble Descent is also first-up from a break after chasing home Spunlago in the Ted Ryder Cup. Trainer Gary Colvin believes the galloper will acquit himself well at Wagga where he has recorded four of his five wins.
“He is right to go, but will improve with the run,” he said.
Noble Descent also has a jockey change through suspension with Adrian Layt taking over from Blaike McDougall. Fireman Sam I Am ($10) is also first-up since August and will represent the in-form Tash Burleigh stable.
The former jockey has prepared nine winners from her past 50 starters with Fireman Sam I Am one of a couple of noted leaders in the feature race. The Valentine’s Day meeting has two appropriately named horses with recent winners Lucid Kiss ($16) and Sweet Bouquet ($8) racing late in the day.