LINDSAY Kennedy is hopeful of bringing in the new year in style when he takes two runner's to today's Gilgandra non-TAB meeting.
The Narromine trainer will saddle up handy sprinter Dodge Tide in the GK & LH Rohr Benchmark 45 Handicap (1000m) while Sergeant Bilko will back up for his third run in seven days in the Harry McKechnie Handicap (1300m).
Greg Ryan replaces Cowra-based rider Michael Travers on Sergeant Bilko, which ran fourth to Castlereagh Grey over 1100m at Wellington on Boxing Day before finishing a narrow second to Big Black Beauty in a 1400m event at Warren on Sunday.
"I got him from down at Wagga for nothing because he had been barred and they couldn't get anyone to ride him trackwork," Kennedy said.
"He was a problem horse but I've had him for about seven runs now and he hasn't missed a cheque for us.
"Mick Travers came back at Warren and said he should have won and when I watched the replay I think he was right. Mick had the whip in his right hand and the horse hung out."
Dodge Tide has been a bit of a flag-bearer for Kennedy's stable, despite not living up to what Kennedy had expected of him.
Purchased as a horse that may appreciate a bit of distance and maybe measure up in some cup races, the six-year-old Quest For Fame (GB) x Tidal Rhythm (NZ) gelding has been more effective over sprint journeys.
Today he will have just six rivals and Kennedy is confident the gelding, who's last two starts have been behind the well-performed pair Dragon's Keep and Sticky Danish, can run well.
"In these lower class races if you win them you only go up a couple of benchmark points so you don't cost yourself a chance at the TAB races," Kennedy said.
"He's got a big weight (61kg) and I thought about claiming but if you take 4kg off, you also take about seven lengths off them so I thought it was better to have the best rider on the horse.
"Nobody ride's Gil better than Greg so I'll leave the tactics up to him but I'd think he will be near the pace somewhere because it's hard to comes from too far back at that track."