Blinkers did the trick for comeback galloper Rough Eddie at Dalby last start and Toowoomba trainer Lindsay Hatch believes the seven-year-old can repeat that performance when he steps out at Murwillumbah on Friday.
Rough Eddie, who was sidelined for 20 months with a tendon injury through 2017 and most of this year, recaptured his old winning form at his fourth start back from the long lay-off when he lead all the way to win an Open Hcp at Dalby on November 3, clocking a near track-record time of 56.89 for the 1000m dash.
The gelding faces stiffer opposition in Friday's Greenmount Timber & Building Supplies Open Hcp over 1100m, a trip he was successful over four times in his pre-inury days when trained in Toowoomba by Michael Nolan.
Rough Eddie won five of his 12 starts for Nolan before suffering his tendon injury which kept him away from the racetrack from January, 2017 until September this year.
"He showed a lot of promise when Michael trained him and won several races, including a city win," said Hatch.
"Then he did a tendon and spent a lot of time in the paddock recovering. I brought him back slowly and had him in work for about five months before I gave him his first run back."
Rough Eddie made his return to racing at the Sunshine Coast on September 9 with an encouraging third to Misery and I Am The General in a Benchmark 85 over 1000m before finishing down the track at his next two runs at Doomben on September 29 and October 30.
Rough Eddie's first-up run at Sunshine Coast in September
Hatch applied blinkers to Rough Eddie for his fourth run back when he showed his old dash to win by two lengths in fast time at Dalby.
"His first run back at the Sunshine Coast was terrific, his next run not so good and his third run was awful, so I put the blinkers on him last time out at Dalby and that turned him around.
"He pulled up great after his Dalby win and I couldn't be happier with him at the moment."
Hatch also nominated Rough Eddie for Saturday's Summer Provincial Series over 1200m at the Gold Coast but opted for the Murwillumbah race.
"I just thought the Murwillumbah race was the better option for him," said Hatch. "He has a great record at 1100m and has the gate speed to be able to lead.
"He is up against some tough sprinters at Murwillumbah. Lucky Meteor is always hard to beat in these sort of races as is Tony Sears' horse (National Trail). But I think my horse will be hard to beat. And a touch of rain over the next 24 hours, which has been forecast, wouldn't hurt either."
Grafton sprinter Lucky Meteor has won on six different tracks in NSW and Queensland during his career but, surprisingly, is having his first start at Murwillumbah on Friday.
The John Shelton-trained sprinter hasn't had the best of luck with wide barriers in some of his recent starts and has come up with another tricky gate (barrier 10) on Friday.
Lucky Meteor is coming off a last-start game second (from the inside draw) to Impregnable in the Jacaranda Cup (1100m) at Grafton on November 7 with 62kg and drops to 60.5kg on Friday after apprentice Cejay Graham's 1.5kg claim.
Gold Coast sprinter Powerful Saga, who has a strong second-up record and is a Murwillumbah winner, is another who looks a threat, as does the Stephen Lee-trained Hydrazine who returned to winning form last start over 1000m at Coffs Harbour on October 2.
In-form Casino galloper Crooked Gent puts his perfect record at Murwillumbah on the line when he chases a winning hat-trick in Friday's Benchmark 58 Hcp (1200m).
The Leo Clapham-trained gelding is unbeaten in two starts at Murwillumbah and is currently racing in the best form of his career after posting two recent wins at Grafton on October 30 and November 7.
Crooked Gent began his racing career in Victoria with trainker Luke Oliver where he failed to win in nine starts. Since joining Clapham at the end of 2017, Crooked Gent has rarely run a bad race in 12 starts - winning four races and being placed another three times.