Toowoomba trainer Lindsay Hatch heads to Ballina on Monday with several genuine chances but the weather could delay the comeback of his promising three-year-old Tarnhelm.
Tarnhelm, a $72,500 purchase at the 2014 Magic Millions National Weanling Sale, became the first Australian winner for stallion Helmet when he romped home on debut at Dalby in April, 2016. Sent out the $1.90 favourite, Tarnhelm lived up to the betting confidence, cruising home by four lengths.
Hatch had always planned to give Tarnhelm that one debut run then give him a break but his next preparation had to be aborted when he sustained a slight tear to the suspensory ligament in a hind leg.
"He had stem cell treatment and was out for about six months," said Hatch. "But he's come back in terrific order and I think he's a horse with a lot of potential. Down the track I think he'll develop into a city-class horse."
Tarnhelm is set to resume in the Benchmark 55 Hcp (1000m) on Monday - weather permitting: "The track rating on Monday will determine whether he runs at Balllina or I save him for a race here (Toowoomba) next Friday. They are predicting a fair bit of rain over the weekend and he won't run on heavy track first-up with 60kg."
The Ballina track was rated a soft 6 on Friday morning but rain is forecast over the weekend.
Hatch is more upbeat about the prospects of several of his other runners on wet ground, including Mr Chow (race one), The Showman (race two), Scrap Copper (race nine) and Johnny Be Quick (race 10). Chelsea Star, also an acceptor in race nine, will bypass Ballina and run at Toowoomba on Saturday.
Mr Chow and The Showman are both new to the Hatch stable after doing their previous racing with Sydney trainer Bjorn Baker.
Mr Chow, unplaced in all six starts so far, is resuming since close fourths at Wyong on January 22 and Mudgee on February 5. The Showman, placed in three of his four starts, is resuming since finishing third at Orange on December 27.
"I'm very happy with both of them and Mr Chow, being by Commands, certainly should have no problems with a wet track," said Hatch. "And Scrap Copper and Johnny Be Quick are both pretty effective on soft ground."
Scrap Copper, coming off a last-start Benchmark 60 win at Casino on May 26, tackles the Slipway Hotel Benchmark 60 Hcp (1400m) on Monday while Johnny Be Quick lines up in the Spill The Beans@Aquis Farm Benchmark 65 Hcp (1250m).
A winner at his only previous appearance at Ballina last November, Johnny Be Quick has been a consistent performer for his connections, winning three races and being placed 10 times from his 17 starts.
Hatch, meanwhile, revealed that enigmatic galloper Transporter has been retired after finishing down the track behind Payroll at Doomben last Saturday. Transporter, who began his career with John Thompson, was off the scene for two years after an injury in mid-2014 but Hatch was able to get the hulking nine-year-old back to winning form.
Transporter had six starts for Hatch this year, winning at big odds both times. He scored at $71 at Eagle Farm on January 21 and at $31 when he won the $100,000 Gold Coast Stakes (1800m) on March 18.
"He was a horse who would only perform on soft ground but he was a very good horse to us while we had him," said Hatch.