Todd Blowes can hardly believe his luck, boasting a live chance in the $1.3 million Kosciuszko two years into his training career.
The Queanbeyan trainer will drive up the Hume Highway with Noble Boy ($5) ready to attack Saturday’s 1200m-sprint for country-trained horses.
Blowes has been in the racing caper for 20-odd years, but only decided to take out his training licence in 2017.
Less than two years on, he is floored to find himself with a Kosciuszko runner this early in the piece – let alone the second favourite.
“It’s unbelievable really,” Blowes told AAP.
“Before I trialled Noble Boy, I thought we had something that went OK.
“But every time you give him a challenge he just steps up. He just amazes us every time.”
Blowes is confident his stable star can answer the bell again, adopting a similar preparation to when he claimed the Country Championship at Randwick in April.
“He’s come through both his trials really well,” Blowes said.
“It’s a tough race. He’s got to be at his best to compete with some of the better horses.
“But I’m really happy with where the horse is at.”
He will team up with champion jockey Hugh Bowman, who was impressed with the five-year-old gelding in his two rides across the autumn.
“It’s reassuring to have someone like him wanting to stick with your horse,” Blowes said.
“I feel from barrier four Hugh will be able to ride the horse wherever he feels comfortable.
“He should be able to find a bit of cover from there, possibly midfield, put him to sleep and hopefully just find some clear air on straightening.”
Noble Boy will carry the equal top weight (59kg) along with last year’s inaugural winner Belflyer ($26) and favourite Victorem ($2.60).
Keen-eyed punters have given Victorem the edge after the Jenny Graham-trained gelding won the Hinkler Handicap at Eagle Farm in June in which Noble Boy was sixth.
But Blowes advised them to look past the run.
“That was on us,” he said.
“It was on a track that didn’t suit us and we were at the end of our prep.
“So I feel that the TAB’s probably got it a little bit off. We should be a little bit closer in the market.”
Victorem, and the Matthew Dale-trained 54.5kg lightweight Notation ($7.50), remain the ones to beat in Blowes’ eyes, but he does not discount Handle The Truth ($8), Don’t Give A Damn ($21) and Belflyer ($26) either.
“There are chances all the way across,” Blowes said.