BATHURST Harness Racing Club's shootout event has had to forgo its time trials after a lack of entries for the annual event.
The Bathurst Shootout (1,730 metres) has normally filled its gate positions based on time trials carried out at the previous meeting, but poor numbers will see the race carried out on Friday as a straight final with ratings-based draws.
It's a disappointing result for the Bathurst club who had to lift the rating cap on the race from 70 to 90 and are also offering slightly less prizemoney ($10,000) for this year's edition.
On the positive side the club have still put together a quality country field for the race.
Last year's fastest qualifier Izzy Watt is back for another attempt, recent Ken Sharp Memorial winner Maximus Red is in and so is Red Ochre Classic champion Scarlet Babe.
BHRC's CEO Danny Dwyer, speaking at Wednesday night's meeting, can't quite pin down the reason for the lack of entries.
"We only had two nominations for the shoot out time trials, which was a surprise because we've had good entry numbers since we started running this," he said.
"We're not too sure for the reason. At tonight's meeting we had eight races and seven of them are only up to 55 in rating.
"That tells me that there's just not a lot of horses racing currently in the grade that we programmed the race at, which was 70.
"There's a lot of race meetings on this week as well so that's sometimes what happens."
The lack of time trial interest hasn't worried Dwyer.
"We've got a field of seven and it's not a bad field," he said.
"If horses were bypassing it for other races then I'd say they've opted not to do the time trial, but we didn't get any of those races on the night so those horses just aren't out there.
"I guess a few runners have raced at Eugowra on Monday as well. That would have an impact as well."
Steve Turnbull makes up nearly half the field with his three runners.
Modern Maestro is the top rated of his chances and has the outside gate for the final.
He was disappointing from the widest gate in his latest Bathurst start and will be looking to hit back.
Maximus Red starts to the inside of Modern Maestro and carries impressive form into the race.
He not only took out the Ken Sharp Memorial at Eugowra on Monday but he did so in record time, running a 1:56.9 mile over the 2,100m.
Always Rockin is the last of the trainer's runners and has to be worth consideration after he beat home other horses in his last start who are also contesting the upcoming final.
Those include Izzy Watt, Modern Maestro, Scarlet Babe and Mister Haywood.
Scarlet Babe was first up for Bernie Hewitt in that race, and the trainer from Georges Plains will be quick to discount that seventh place performance after the mare was held up in the run.
The meeting also includes a Kay and Kevin Seymour Evolution Series Heat, carrying a $10,000 purse.
Friday's eight race meeting at Bathurst Paceway starts from 5.55pm with the Bathurst Shootout running at 8.03pm.