An overdue change of luck with the barrier draw can help talented Lismore mare Queen Of Kingston offset a hefty impost of 60.5kg when she lines up in Friday's $65,000 Slipway Hotel Ballina Cup (1600m).
Trainer Daniel Bowen has been forced to send the mare into Friday's race off a five-day back-up after she ran a slashing third to The Drake and Northern Knight at Coffs Harbour last Sunday.
Carrying 63kg, Queen Of Kingston dropped back from her outside gate but powered to the line late to be beaten just under 1.5 lengths over the 1205m of the Pink Silks Cup.
"I couldn't find a suitable race for her in Brisbane (leading up the Ballina Cup) with the Magic Millions carnival on, so my hand was forced a little and she had to run at Coffs Harbour last Sunday," said Bowen.
"She ran an outstanding race at Coffs with the big weight behind a horse who only had 54.5kg (The Drake) and is being touted a real Country Championships contender.
"But I'm not concerned about the quick back-up. She didn't really have a hard run last Sunday and she has relished a quick back-up in the past - she won last year's Casino Beef Week Cup off a seven-day back-up."
Bowen was relieved Queen Of Kingston drew barrier two in the 14-horse Ballina Cup after being dogged by bad alleys in her past three starts at Doomben, Lismore and Coffs Harbour.
She also got stuck with awkward gates when a terrific fourth (from barrier 14) to Noble Boy in last year's $500,000 Country Championships Final at Randwick and sixth (from gate 13) behind Love Shack Bay in the Coffs Harbour Cup last August.
"She definitely hasn't had a lot of luck with barrier draws," said Bowen.
"The last time she drew well in a really suitable race was at Ipswich last June when she won over 1666m."
Queen Of Kingston posted one of her best wins in that $75,000 race on Ipswich Cup day, carrying 57.5kg from barrier three to down Silvera and Hectopascal in the Benchmark 80 Ipswich Mile.
Queen Of Kingston runs third at Coffs Harbour last Sunday
"She was able to settle closer in about fifth or sixth in that Ipswich race and was too strong at the end. Hopefully, she will get a similar good run in Friday's race," he said.
"Still, despite drawing the good gate, she still has to carry 60.5kg to win, which might be a weight-carrying record for a mare in the Ballina Cup. But I think she's definitely good enough to win with that weight."
Bowen is hoping the Ballina track remains in the soft range for Friday's eight-race Showcase meeting.
The Ballina track was rated a soft 6 on Wednesday morning after receiving 20mm of rain over the past week and further showers are expected over the next 48 hours.
"A soft track would be fine, but I wouldn't want it getting into the heavy range with the weight she's got," he said.
Bowen is chasing his first win in the Ballina Cup, but Queen Of Kingston's rider Matt McGuren is chasing back-to-back victories in the race after guiding Nothingforthepress home last year.
The Stephen Lee-trained Nothingforthepress won with 56kg last year and backs up again this year with 55.5kg.
Jockey Andrew Mallyon, who has been having a great run in Melbourne in recent weeks with the talented sprinter Halvorsen, rides Nothingforthepress on Friday.
Friday's Ballina Cup, a race first run back in 1914, has attracted a good field featuring several country or provincial feature race winners.
The field includes Morendi (2018 Toowoomba Cup), Peacock (2018 Rockhampton and Cairns Newmarket double), Boncosta (2019 Murwillumbah Cup), Bodega Negra (2016 Coffs Harbour Cup and 2019 South Grafton Cup), Kuttamurra Al (2019 Lismore Cup) and Landmarks (2017-18 Casino Cups).
Nothingforthepress won back-to-back races at Ipswich prior to landing last year's Ballina Cup and goes into Friday's race off recent good runs at Lismore and Murwillumbah.
He battled on for second behind Landmarks in the Xmas Cup (1400m) at Lismore on December 20 then was a close-up fourth with 58.5kg behind easy winner Tivoli Street in the Ballina Cup Prelude (1530m) at Murwillumbah on December 29.
Coffs Harbour galloper Boncosta was no match for Tivoli Street when he resumed in the Ballina Cup Prelude but will be improved by the run and will relish the step up to the 1600m on Friday.
One of the most interesting runners at Friday's eight-race Ballina meeting is the promising Coffs Harbour three-year-old Pace Stick who should bounce back from his shock failure at Wyong on December 19 when he lines up in the $30,000 Class 1 Hcp (1000m).
The Brett Dodson-trained gelding looked a galloper with a bright future when he made a stunning debut at Coffs Harbour last June, but did not race again until he resumed at Wyong last month.
Sent out the $2 favourite in a 1200m Class 1, Pace Stick was slow to jump and was never a threat after that, finishing last of the seven runners.