Tuncurry trainer Terry Evans had hoped to be at Randwick on Saturday with his former Victorian galloper Up The Stairs, but will have to wait 24 hours and saddle up the gelding at Sunday's Port Macquarie meeting instead.
Formerly with Victorian trainer John McArdle, Up The Stairs has raced well in each of his four runs so far for Evans and chases his second win since coming north to NSW when he tackles Sunday's Stephen Cook Memorial Benchmark 58 Hcp (1503m).
Up The Stairs broke through at his third run for Evans when he scored in a Benchmark 58 Hcp (1500m) at Tuncurry two starts ago on September 13.
At his most recent outing, the six-year-old fought on bravely after being trapped four-wide for most of the race when third to First Time Lucky and Yu Long Sheng Hui in a Class 3 Hcp (1512m) on a heavy 8 surface at Port Macquarie on October 12.
Evans also nominated Up The Stairs for a TAB Highway over 1800m at Randwick this Saturday (October 26), but he was ballotted out of the field.
"I was keen to see how he would go stepping up to the 1800m in that TAB Highway, but it wasn't to be," said Evans.
"He's been racing very well since he came up from Victoria. We've changed his racing pattern a bit and he seems to be enjoying his new environment here at Tuncurry. He's a happy horse at the moment.
Up The Stairs runs third at Port Macquarie on October 12
"His run last time out at Port Macquarie was terrific. He raced wide throughout but was still doing his best work on the line.
"From his good draw (barrier two) on Sunday he should prove very hard to beat."
One of Up The Stairs' main rivals on Sunday looks to be the Kris Lees-trained Mr Piquet who has been a bit costly for punters after two recent defeats.
He was sent out the $3.40 favourite when second to Steamboat Sally in a Class 1 at Muswellbrook on September 16, then started $1.60 when he was rolled by Trescha in a Class 1 at Tamworth on September 30.
Evans will saddle up three other runners at Sunday's seven-race meeting and thinks they are all going well enough to be competitive in their respective races.
Game Of Circles runs in the Schweppes Maiden Plate (1506m), Oakwoods Hope tackles the John Oxley Motors Class 1 & Maiden Plate (2012m) and Scorching lines up in the Athol Platt Memorial Benchmark 58 Hcp (1106m).
Scorching, a winner on the track, resumed for a ninth of 13 behind Are You Dreaming in a Benchmark 58 over 1000m at Taree on October 18, but has run well second-up in previous campaigns.
"His first-up run was actually pretty good under the circumstances," said Evans. "He rolls his tongue and got it over the bit that day, so the tongue-tie goes on this time."
Scorching won three straight at the beginning of the year, completing his hat-trick with a Class 2 win over 1208m at Port Macquarie on March 22.
Oakwoods Hope has been placed in three of her five starts at Port Macquarie and ran an improved race last time out when third at Tuncurry, while Game Of Circles, formerly trained by Mitch Newman, is lining up for her fourth run for Evans after finishing unplaced at her past three outings.
"Up The Stairs is clearly the pick of my runners on Sunday, but I think the other three are all going well enough to figure in their races as well," said Evans.