Warwick Harper has been around racing long enough to know he can't get carried away in the lead-up to Saturday's $1.3 million Kosciuszko, but conditions at Randwick could perfectly suit his hope for the $1.3 million race.
Harper, one of the lucky 14 winners of a slot in the world's richest race for country horses, will be represented in the feature event by the Brett Cavanough-trained Patino Ruby.
The up-and-coming Scone mare was a $16 chance on Friday morning.
Harper and good mate Warren Watts, who won the Kosciuszko slot together, have spoken to Cavanough plenty this week and there's plenty of optimism in the camp given Patino Ruby thrives on rain-affected surfaces.
Randwick was rated a Heavy 8 on Friday.
"He (Cavanough) seems really confident she'll run a good race," Harper, a former harness racing trainer and driver, said.
"Everything is spot on and she's ticked all the boxes so he couldn't be happier with her.
"She's got a nice draw and the track could be on the soft side, which will suit her, so we might have a bit of luck.
"But all the horses were set for this race and it will depend on who has the luck on the day.
"You never get your hopes too high. It's good to have a runner and know you're a chance but anticipating victories, I've been in racing too long to think you'll get the big dollars before you've got it."
The only downside to the occasion is ongoing COVID restrictions will keep Harper from making the trip to the city.
He and a few mates will instead get together locally and watch the race over a few beers, hoping Alysha Collett can pilot Patino Ruby to what would be a memorable win.
No travel to the Greater Sydney region is allowed under the current Public Health Orders and, while understanding of that, Harper said it was frustrating.
"My daughter lives down there and I haven't seen her for a few months," Harper said.
"She was going to come out and enjoy the day with us. There was going to be a package for food and drink as well so everything would have been spot on and it would have been a good day with the Everest and other races on.
"But it will be a good day. A few mates will get together and go to the pub."
Patino Ruby will carry just 53.5kg in the 1200m event and will jump from barrier five.
The four-year-old mare has three wins and two placings from seven career starts, with one of those wins coming in a 1300m event on a soft Rosehill track.
Canberra star Handle The Truth was a $4.40 favourite on Friday.
The Kosciuszko jumps at 2.50pm on Saturday.
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