Eagle Farm trainer Liam Birchley has sent Rock Royalty on a 1254 kilometre road trip south to win the $110,000 XXXX Gold Wagga Town Plate (1200m) on Thursday.
Birchley knows what it takes to win feature races not only at the major country centres but also on the metropolitan scene.
The astute trainer has an uncanny knack of getting it right and said he wouldn’t be sending Rock Royalty so far unless he thought the eight-year-old could win.
“Don’t worry how his form reads because he is going better than it suggests,” he said.
“The horse left this morning (Tuesday) and will stop overnight then arrive in Wagga on Wednesday.”
Rock Royalty won the 2015 Grafton Ramornie – the equivalent of the Wagga Town Plate – but hasn’t won since.
Some of his recent starts have been on rain affected tracks and the return to a firmer surface is ideal for the winner of seven of his 31 starts.
Birchley is unsure if he will be in Wagga himself and has left fellow Queensland trainer John Smerdon in charge.
Smerdon formerly trained in Wagga and will be represented at the carnival by American Diva in another race.
Jockey Richard Bensley has picked up the ride on Rock Royalty replacing Luke Rolls who was unable to make the trip.
There is a doubt over Ice Bucket starting after it drew gate 16 which will enable the first emergency Final Decision to gain a run.
Weights for the Plate stayed the same at acceptance time with Victorian Santa Ana Lane carrying 61 kilograms for the Lee and Anthony Freedman stable.
Jockey Chad Lever will take the mount as the Freedmans’ cup jockey Tommy Berry will partner Hermosa Beach for Matthew Dale in the Plate.
The other notable riding change is Brodie Loy picking up the mount on Plate prelude runner-up Got The Goss, replacing Nick Souquet who was unable to make his weight of 55.5 kilograms.
Souquet will instead ride smart Victorian visitor Play Master.
Got The Goss drops a whopping seven kilograms from his last run and is drawn well to repeat his win in the Town Plate from two years ago.