Gold Coast trainer Maryann Brosnan and dedicated owner Nancy Elliott will be two of the happiest women in Australia if veteran galloper Beaufort Gyre can at least scrape into third place at Ballina on Friday.
The reason? The eight-year-old is coming off an astonishing - and frustrating - run of eight consecutive fourth placings. That's right.
Over a six-month period, at a variety of tracks and distances, wet or dry, Beaufort Gyre has finished fourth in eight straight races - four of them at Ballina.
The gelding's last four Ballina appearances on October 31, November 11, December 10 and February 17 all ended with the same result - close-up fourths. And Brosnan won't be a bit surprised if the eight-year-old clocks up the same result in Friday's Domesday Standing At Aquis Farm Benchmark 60 Hcp (1000m).
Left: Apprentice Carla Dougherty has the ride on Beaufort Gyre at Ballina. Picture by Adam Hourigan (Grafton Examiner)
"Could he possibly run nine straight fourths? I'm actually expecting that he will," she said. "It's a one-off, surely. It must be some sort of a record but one we'd rather not have - it's very frustrating.
"He's learnt a few tricks as he's got older and probably has more ability than he's been showing. But at least he's been mostly racing in NSW and picking up around $900 for fourth, which helps pay the feed bill."
Brosnan said owner Nancy Elliott was devoted to Beaufort Gyre and they would both be rapt if the gelding could get into third at the very least on Friday.
"Nancy just loves this horse, " said Brosnan. "She has her strapper's licence and leads him on racedays. Nancy races a few horses, but Beaufort Gyre is her absolute favourite and he's been a fairly handy horse for her overall during his career."
Lining up for his 60th career start on Friday, Beaufort Gyre has won six races and been placed another 16 times for $111,045 in prizemoney. His last win was at Ballina last March, almost a year to the day to Friday's race. Maybe that's a positive omen for a better result on Friday.
Meanwhile, Ballina trainer Steven Phelps looks to have a strong hand at Friday's eight-race meeting, especially with his 'cousins' - My Cousin Jackie (Benchmark 55 Hcp), My Cousin Bossy (Benchmark 70 Hcp) and My Cousin Bob (Class 1 Hcp)
Raced by George and Shirley Austin, the three all look genuine winning chances in their respective races. The Austins also race My Cousin Rhett (Benchmark 60 Hcp) who is trained by Terry McCarthy.
My Cousin Bossy, a dual Brisbane winner last preparation, is coming off a solid first-up seventh behind Perfect Dare in the Country Championship qualifier at Grafton on February 13. Matthew McGuren, who has ridden My Cousin Bossy in all of his four wins to date, is reunited with the four-year-old on Friday and will have to negotiate the outside gate in the 13-horse field.
The rail for Friday's meeting will be in the true position and the track is currently rated a soft 5.