In-form Port Macquarie gelding Magnalane will tune-up for a crack at one of the feature races at the Scone Cup meeting in mid-May when he tackles the Brushgrove Cup (1215m) at Grafton on Monday.
The Jenny Graham-trained four-year-old was coming off three straight wins at Taree prior to his luckless last-start appearance in the $400,000 Country Championships Final (1400m) at Randwick on April 4.
Magnalane had booked his trip to Randwick after winning the $150,000 MNCRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Taree on February 23, but nothing went right for him in the Final.
The gelding lost his off-fore plate in the mounting yard, then became fractious in the barriers and was slow to jump.
He was a clear last in the 16-horse field approaching the home turn, but made up many lengths in the straight to be beaten just under two lengths into seventh place behind the winner Gracie Belle.
"He didn't have a lot of luck at all at Randwick, but that's racing," said Graham.
"He was on the back foot when the gates opened and was a clear last out of the gates.
"I think if he'd have drawn a better gate and jumped more cleanly he would certainly have finished in the top four. But it just didn't work out that way.
"He hasn't been able to draw a decent gate in his past two runs at Taree and Randwick and has come up with another sticky gate (barrier 10) at Grafton on Monday."
Graham has targeted Monday's 1215m race as an ideal lead-in to the $72,000 Country Cup over 1400m at Scone on May 15.
"He hasn't run now for a month, and this race at Grafton over 1215m is ideal for him to then progress to the 1400m race at Scone," said the trainer.
"He's probably better suited at 1400m, but he is working very well and I expect him to be very hard to beat on Monday. And a bit of 'cut' in the track would be ideal for him."
Magnalane has trialled since his Randwick run on April 4, comfortably winning a Port Macquarie trial over 1000m on April 24.
Magnalane's rivals on Monday include track specialist Exclusive, a four-time Grafton winner coming off an impressive last-start win there over 1106m.
Local galloper Midweek Hussler, a three-time Grafton winner, didn't have a lot of luck last start when third to Exclusive in that 1106m, and can also figure in the finish from a much better draw on Monday.
Magnalane's effort in the Country Championships Final at Randwick
Jenny Graham will have two other runners at Monday's seven-race program - Manly Hanover in the C,G&E Class 1 Hcp (1015m) and I'm Fluent in the Maiden Plate (1420m).
Manly Hanover improved on his wayward debut failure back in November to win first-up at Port Macquarie on April 17, beating subsequent winner Frivolosophy in a 1000m Maiden.
I'm Fluent, on the other hand, has disappointed Graham in her past three starts after an encouraging first-up second at Grafton back on March 3.
"Manly Hanover went really well first-up and has worked well since. From his gate on Monday, he should be able to get a sit just behind the pace," said Graham.
"But I'm Fluent has been disappointing and I don't know what to say about her. Maybe the return to Grafton where she ran well four runs back, might trigger some improvment."