Brett Thompson has two contenders for this year's Country Championships series and both will step out at Dubbo Turf Club on Sunday.
The Gulgong trainer was part of the first Country Championships Final in 2015 with Apistanna but hasn't since made an appearance in the feature at Royal Randwick.
This year he has Amy's Shadow and Slatey Bay on track for the $150,000 Central Districts heat at Mudgee on February 28.
Both will be first-up on Sunday and contest the TDR Country Championships Preview (1300m) at Dubbo.
"These are the two," Thompson said.
"These two have always been set for it and they were put out at the right time to be ready to hopefully run one-two (at Mudgee).
"We're happy to have it come around and hopefully the horses put in and perform as well as we think they can."
Amy's Shadow was sensational last preparation and scored four wins and a second from seven starts.
The four wins included two Highway Handicap victories in the city while she returned to the track last month and ran second in a trial at Scone.
"Amy's Shadow trialled well at Scone but trials are a different kettle of fish," Thompson said.
"But she's spot on and we think she's going as good or better than before.
"She's gone really well and I was really pleased with Slatey Bay last preparation, as well. He came of age.
"I really like the horse and he runs better every time time he's in and Amy's Shadow is the same, she won two Highways. You've got to be good to win one Highway, let alone two."
Apprentice Mikayla Weir has the ride on Amy's Shadow at Dubbo.
It's not about Sunday, it's about Mudgee in two weeks' time.Brett Thompson
Slatey Bay has four wins and five placings from 18 career starts and has trialled twice in the build-up to Sunday.
"Slatey Bay has drawn ordinary, (gate) 10 of 10, but he should still get a spot and Grant Buckley will give him a good ride," Thompson said.
"She (Amy's Shadow) won't be pushed out of her comfort zone. But she's shown good first-up form before and won when coming from last but that was against maidens.
"It's not about Sunday, it's about Mudgee in two weeks' time but you want to see them win or place so you know they're up to it."
Sunday will be the one run for each hope before taking to the Mudgee track for the rich qualifier later this month.
Thompson isn't the only trainer using Sunday as a stepping stone towards the Country Championships.
A number of Western Districts trainers will be in action in the build-up to their heat at Coonamble on March 14.
Kylie Kennedy will have Pamela and Wild Rocket in action on Sunday and Thompson singled out the latter as a contender.
Pamela has only has the one start for Kennedy after previously racing with Clare Cunningham and Craig Martin.
She finished fifth at Dubbo earlier this month while Wild Rocket contested the same event and showed real promise first-up when rattling home to finish third.
Mathew Cahill will again ride Wild Rocket on Sunday while Clayton Gallagher will pilot Pamela.
Patrick May will also be first-up on Sunday and is working towards Coonamble for Dubbo trainer Leo Harland.
Patrick May hasn't trialled ahead of this weekend but finished last preparation with back-to-back wins at Coonamble and Warren late last year.
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