TWO super fields have been assembled for this Wednesday night's Soldier's Saddle Heats at Bathurst Paceway as trainers, drivers and owners look for their share of the $12,000 prize pool in the final.
Home trainers dominate the fields and will be expected to do the same in the betting, with the likes of Amanda Turnbull's Obi One, Steve Turnbull's Heza Slick Joe, Mat Rue's Ziggy Rocks and Nathan Turnbull's Carramar Times Up among the leading chances in the series.
Maxwell Smart's catchphrase 'Missed it by that much' feels appropriate when describing the preparation of Nathan Turnbull's mare, who has had to settle for second in her past two starts after being run down on the home straight.
But Turnbull knows he's got a 'smart' operative in Carramar Times Up.
The Western Terror mare has still pleased the trainer in defeat and she gets a great opportunity to lead again in this Wednesday's opening heat out of gate two.
"She hasn't had the gate speed all the time but she's been getting out a lot better lately and led her last two starts. Hopefully we can do the same," he said.
"Some of those runs before that had a lot of merit, because they were in a lot harder races than what she'd been in.
"Her last start at Bathurst was a great run. She was back to her best there with a good time."
Carramar Times Up will have Heza Slick Joe following her out while Turnbull will be keeping a close eye on Michael Xuereb's inside starter Bella Clare.
"The better horses look to be going off the back but I have a lot of respect for the number one horse," Turnbull said.
"If I can't cross then it might be the fly in the ointment but even if I cross it will be sitting on my back and it's got the sprint lane. My mare's better in front so finding that will be half the battle."
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The second of the night's heats is stacked with seven last start winners.
Amanda Turnbull's New Zealand import Obi One commands respect after two strong trial performances and a winning double last preparation.
Rue's Ziggy Rocks comes into the race of a Cherry Festival Cup success in Young while Bernie Hewitt's Alta Equus deserves consideration as he shoots for a hat-trick of victories.
Barry Lew's Dazzle Me has the inside start on the back row. The Dubbo trainer's gelding deserves to be considered one of the best non-local hopes in the series following his Gilgandra Cup success.
Scott Hewitt's No Doubt also enters with excellent form.
The final of the Soldier's Saddle will be held on Friday December 13.
This Wednesday night's racing starts from 6.07pm with the first of the heats to run at 6.40pm.