By Greg Prichard
South Coast trainer Graeme Murray believes the circumstances couldn't be better for him to try Miss Scorcher over further than 1200m for the first time in the last Polytrack Provincial Championships Qualifier at Wyong on Saturday.
After finishing fifth behind Asharani in a 1200m qualifier, originally scheduled for Gosford but moved to Newcastle on March 19, the four-year-old mare will go around on a nine-day back-up over 1350m.
"I was happy with the run at Newcastle," Murray said.
"They had to run a track record to beat her and with a couple of tearaway leaders my horse was sort of chasing all the way and that just took the edge off her.
"The last 75 metres told on her and we'd missed a gallop due to the bad weather in the lead-up, so I'm pretty happy to back her up over 1350m on Saturday.
"I've never tried her past 1200m, but I've got no drama with her running 1400m, which is the distance of the final anyway. I would never advise the owners to go to 1400m if I didn't think she'd run the distance.
"It's a $150,000 qualifier into a $500,000 final and you're only running against other provincial horses, so I said to the owners, 'if we're going to find out can she run 1400m, this is the time to do it'. The owners agreed, so we're headed that way.
Miss Scorcher runs fifth at Newcastle on March 19
"They won't be running at as quick a tempo over 1350m as they would at 1200m and we've drawn well, so we can let any speed horses go to the front if they want and we can use her pace to get across and take a sit.
"When she draws wide you usually have to use her up to get across, because she likes to go forward. But the aim from the draw we've got in this race will be to go forward, take up a position and get a bit of cover. The way the race looks I think that can happen and I'll be pretty happy if it does."
Miss Scorcher drew barrier eight and would come in to seven with the emergencies out.
Lee Magorrian will ride her because Jeff Penza, who rode her at Newcastle, had already made a commitment to ride the Kim Waugh-trained Celer.
Leading provincial trainer Kris Lees has seven confirmed runners in the race and one of the emergencies as well.
Murray just has Miss Scorcher representing his Kembla Grange stable and his view is that if you're only going to have the one horse you've got to make sure it's the right one.
"Kris is always hard to beat because of the size of his stable and the calibre of horse he's got, but you've just got to do your best to compete with that," he said.
"This is a long-term plan we've had with Miss Scorcher and our chances of making the final are still alive."
The first three placegetters at Wyong will qualify for the $500,000 Polytrack Provincial Championships Final over 1400m at Randwick on April 11.