Tamworth trainer Cody Morgan is making a 'last-ditch effort' to get the promising Pat's Nipper into next Sunday's H&NWRA Country Championships Qualifier when the gelding tackles Tuesday's Open Hcp (1206m) at Grafton.
Morgan already looks like having a strong hand in Sunday's $150,000 Country Qualifier on his home track at Tamworth and is keen for Pat's Nipper to also get his chance in that race.
"I already have five horses heading for Sunday's Qualifier and Pat's Nipper would have to run first or second at Grafton on Tuesday to make it into the field," said Morgan.
Pat's Nipper, a five-year-old son of Duporth, has always looked like a genuine Country Championships candidate after winning back-to-back races at Tamworth this time last year, then producing a barnstorming finish to land a TAB Highway over 1500m at Rosehill last July.
He has won four races and been placed another four times from his 15 starts to date.
His two runs since resuming have both been good efforts. He was beaten just over a length in a blanket finish when a first-up seventh of 13 behind Desert Marshal in an Open Hcp (1200m) at Tamworth on January 23.
He then struck a heavy track second-up when he worked home out wide to finish third to Charlotte's Heart and Beauty Best in a Class 4 Hcp over 1280m at Muswellbrook on February 18.
"Both of his runs this time in have been good under the circumstances," said Morgan.
Pat's Nipper runs third at Muswellbrook on February 18
"He drew the inside first-up at Tamworth and that wasn't the best place to be on that day, then he struck a heavy track last time at Muswellbrook and he just hates those conditions.
"He may be looking for 1400m now, but he's always been pretty adaptable between 1200m and 1400m. He beat Burning Crown over 1200m at Tamworth last year after winning over 1400m at his previous start.
"And a big, roomy track like Grafton will really suit him. He's won third-up before and he's ready to go, and hopefully he can run in the first two and back up at Tamworth in Sunday's Qualifier. He's a tough horse and a five-day back-up wouldn't be a problem."
Morgan expects the Port Macquarie-trained The Drake to be the hardest to beat in the Grafton race on Tuesday.
The Jenny Graham-trained The Drake has won two of his past four starts, including an impressive win in the Pink Silks Cup (1205m) at Coffs Harbour two starts back on January 12, beating Northern Knight and Queen Of Kingston.
At his most recent run he finished 12th of 14 behind stablemate Magnalane in the MNCRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Taree on February 23.
That race was run on a heavy 9 and The Drake will relish the return to a good surface at Grafton on Tuesday.
Others lining up who have to be respected are the Port Macquarie galloper Penfold, a last-start second over 1115m at Grafton on February 20, and two-time Grafton winner Lismore-trained General Nelson who was scratched from his Doomben assingment last Saturday to be kept for this race.
Andrew Mallyon rides Pat's Nipper on Tuesday and also looks to have several other good rides on the seven-race program.
Fresh off riding a double at Doomben last Saturday, Mallyon links with Gold Coast trainers Toby and Trent Edmonds with Broken Windows in the Maiden Hcp (1106m), In Waves who is chasing a winning hat-trick in the Benchmark 58 (1710m), Rumberella in the Class 1 Maiden Plate (1610m) and Wookiee in the Class 1 (1206m).
He also rides Vernazza for Matt Dunn in the Class 2 (1006m), and I'm Fluent for Port Macquarie trainer Jenny Graham in the F&M Maiden Hcp (1106m).