Wins have been a bit hard to come by for Star Fest so far, but trainer Brett Bellamy hasn't got a bad word to say about the six-year-old who has a couple of factors in his favour when he tackles Thursday's Zac Purton Open Hcp (2015m) at Coffs Harbour.
Star Fest has been a pretty consistent performer for his connections, but has managed just five wins - as opposed to 19 minor placings - from his 60 starts. He won two races in 2015, another two in 2017 and was successful again this year, scoring over 1410m at Coffs Harbour three starts ago on May 11.
But Bellamy isn't grumbling one bit.
"I wish I had another dozen like him in the stable," said the Coffs Harbour trainer. "He a lovely, quiet horse who always tries hard and puts in - week in, week out - whether it's a 1200m race or over a mile and a quarter (2000m).
"Sure, he doesn't win very often, but he' still won $120,000 in prizemoney and a lot of horses don't get anywhere near that."
Star Fest is yet to win beyond 1615m, but the gelding's five previous runs over 2000m have all been pretty solid efforts. The last time he ran at that trip at Coffs Harbour was in last year's Ken Howard Cup when he made good ground late to be beaten about 1.7 lengths into fourth place behind I'll Miss You.
Star Fest also appreciates soft ground, with three of his five career wins coming in those conditions.
"He's on his home track and will get soft ground, both factors in his favour," said Bellamy. "I'm not totally convinced about him at 2000m, but in saying that the 2000m at Coffs is probably a bit easier than at other tracks like Lismore and Grafton. I'm sure he'll run well, as he usually does."
One of Star Fest's main rivals is the in-form Port Macquarie galloper Art Attack who has found the best form of his career in his recent starts at Grafton.
Art Attack has really hit his straps since trainer Jenny Graham stepped him up in distance back in February. In his past nine starts Art Attack has won three races - all at Grafton - and been placed another five times. Prior to this campaign, Art Attack had won only two races - one in 2016 and another last year.
He has won two of his past three starts - a Benchmark 68 over 2370m on April 30 and a last-start Benchmark 65 Hcp win over 2375m on May 28.
Art Attack will be chasing his sixth win of his career on Thursday.
"He has certainly been racing very consistently since I stepped him up in trip, especially at the Grafton track which he really loves," said Graham.
"I hadn't tried him over the longer trips before because he wasn't a very strong horse and had a weak constitution, but as he's got a bit older he's been able to handle it."
Graham admits the drop back to 2000m and being away from Grafton were some concerns, but expects him to still run a big race.
"I thought we might give this Coffs Harbour race a go while he's in such good form," she said.
"He's been racing so consistently and the big thing in his favour on Thursday is that he's down in the weights a bit this time, which will really help him. And I think he'll handle the soft track at Coffs Harbour.
"He has been up a while and he may be getting to the end of his prep, but I'm sure he'll run very well again."
Art Attack carried 59kg and 58.5kg in his past two Grafton runs and drops to 54kg in Thursday's Open Hcp.
Art Attack's recent strong form and the win of stablemate Backhouse Billy in a Metro meeting at the Sunshine Coast in April have added to what has been a memorable few months for Graham, whose top three-year-old Victorem provided her with a career highlight when he landed the $500,000 Country Championship Final at Randwick on April 7.
Newcastle trainer Ben Smith will have several runners at the Coffs Harbour meeting, including Ibini who looks hard to beat in the Coffs Harbour Cup August 2 Class 1 Hcp (1215m).
Ibini resumed for a win at Coffs Harbour on May 11, winning a 3YO Maiden over 1250m by a length on a soft6. The Commands gelding then went to Taree for his next run, just failing to hold off Island Grange to go down by half a length.
Smith stable newcomer Valleseco, first-up since December, could one to watch if he gains a start in the Benchmark 67 Hcp (1015m).
Valleseco, formerly with Liam Birchley in Brisbane, is the second emergency in the race. He was particularly effective fresh when trained in Queensland, winning at his only two previous first-up runs.