It has been a long time between drinks but Keymaster will start his first race since December 4, 2016, for Bathurst trainer Dean Mirfin, at Towac Park on Saturday.
Originally drawing barrier nine, Keymaster will start at barrier eight in the Inland Digital Class 2 Handicap (1000 metres) after Atum was scratched.
Keymaster has gone through a new owner and trainer in the past 12 months, with the six-year-old bay gelding being a part of Mirfin’s stable for several months now.
In that time, he’s already impressed after winning a trial at Orange on December 12.
On that day, Keymaster finished 3.85 lengths ahead of second place with apprentice jockey Jamie Gibbons in the saddle.
“He trailed really well. He probably went better than expected,” Mirfin said.
“I’ve got Jamie Gibbons riding him again on Saturday.
“We were ultimately looking for a longer race than 100 metres but we’ll see how he goes. He’s nice and fresh, so after this run we’ll put him in a longer race.”
Rain has been forecast for Orange on Saturday, something that may play into Keymaster’s favour.
“The barrier draw might suit him better. The track might be chopped up in the inside, from earlier racing,” he said.
“I haven’t gone through the field yet. I might see him running mid field, but it’ll all depend on the field and the track. I haven’t discussed tactics with Jamie yet.”
Keymaster comes into the race fresh and with good speed.
“There’s no issues. It’s a good thing he’s a six-year-old. He’s still got a few more years ahead of him,” Mirfin said.
“He’s in with a chance to win. It’ll be a good chance to kick start his campaign and it’ll be good for Jamie to get a win.”
Elsewhere in the Orange meeting, Bathurst trainer Peter Stanley will have Dungannon start from barrier one in the Kennards Class 3 Handicap (1280 metres), while Dragon’s Shadow will be ridden by Shaun Guymer in the Orange Vet Hospital Class 1 Handicap (1400 metres).
Destiny Fever will also make her debut for Stanley, in the Spanline Maiden Plate (1000 metres).
The five-year-old bay mare has only had one trial, when she finished sixth from a field of eight on December 5.
Annecy will also be looking to claim her fourth career win for Bathurst father and son trainer duo Don and Andrew Ryan.
Her previous start came at Rosehill Gardens on December 9, where she finished eighth from a field of 12.
All of her wins have came at regional tracks and in the space of two months, with two victories at Dubbo, on April 23 and June 16 and one victory at Bathurst, on May 25.