Talented mare Rubel's barrier manners could be the key factor to her winning chances when she returns from a 12-month layoff for her new trainer Nathaniel Scott at Lismore on Monday.
Formerly with Gosford trainer Angela Davies, Rubel has been off the scene since October 26 last year when she won a Benchmark 66 over 1100m at Scone. That win was her third success from her previous four starts and took her overall record to four wins and two placings from just 10 starts.
Rubel will resume against a small field in Monday's Benchmark 66 Hcp over 1200m, she has drawn gate two and will be partnered by Matt Paget.
Rubel hasn't been sidelined through any major injury concerns, just a few issues that kept cropping up to delay her return to the racetrack.
"Her previous owners sent her for a spell after her last Scone win, but then she suffered a leg cut. Then one of her part-owners passed away which again delayed her return to racing," said Scott.
"When they did bring her back into work she injured one of her bumpers and was sidelined again."
Rubel's new owner Mark Stewart paid $10,000 for the five-year-old Bel Esprit mare in July this year and sent her to the Inverell-based Scott.
Rubel runs second in a Muswellbrook trial on November 5
Scott expects her to be hard to beat on Monday if she produces her best form, and provided she jumps from the barriers okay.
Rubel was set to make her return to racing in Queensland on October 12 but the mare was a late scratching from the Warwick Newmarket Hcp (1100m) when she refused to load into the barriers.
"We had her ready to go for that race a Warwick last month but she just wouldn't go in," said Scott.
"We had no idea that she had a history of barrier problems when we got her."
After the Warwick setback, Scott sent Rubel to Tamworth trainer Luke Morgan, the former jockey and rodeo champion, to work on her barrier manners.
"Luke's done a great job and has got her jumping from the gates. We trialled her on Tuesday (November 5) at Muswellbrook and she went in and pinged out of the gates just fine," said Scott.
"She ran second in that trial but she wasn't out to win it - we just wanted to see her go in the barriers and jump away okay.
"She'll have made three float trips this past week when she goes to Lismore - which isn't ideal - but she's a mare with a lot of ability. She's been working well with another of mine, Bullseye Score, who's racing well, and she can win first-up provided there's no issue at the barrier.
"And we're not sure yet if she's still keen on being a racehorse after having such a long break, but we'll find that out on Monday.
"She's a lovely type of mare and if she can return to the form she showed when Angela had her, I think she's well up to winning a fillies and mares race in the city."
Rubel's rivals in Monday's race include the topweight Flying Machine and two ex-Victorian gallopers Makfi Amour and Laoban Tai Tai.
Makfi Amour, however, is a dual acceptor and seems more likely to run in the final event at the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Jockey Ryan Moloney looms as the rider to follow at Monday's seven-race Lismore meeting with an excellent book of six strong rides.
He partners Flying Machine (Benchmark 66), Buzzoni (Benchmark 58), Scout (Maiden Hcp), Countess De Galvez (Class 3), Nice Retort (Maiden Plate) and Sparkling Facet (Class 1).
Scout and Sparkling Facet, both from the Toby and Trent Edmonds stable on the Gold Coast, and the Stephen Lee-trained Countess De Galvez look particularly hard to beat.
Sparkling Facet, resuming since winning her Maiden at the Gold Coast in March, has won her two recent trials at the Gold Coast.
Scout, also an acceptor at the Gold Coast on Saturday, showed enough in his past few starts before a spell, to suggest he will be the one to beat if he is saved for Lismore on Monday.
Countess De Galvez has been racing well in Brisbane recently and looks the one they have to beat over the 1516m of Monday's Class 3.