WITH warmer weather upon us the Michael and Nathan Xuereb stable are happy to start making trips over the Blue Mountains to race at Bathurst Paceway, and are doing so this Wednesday night with Birdy Mach.
Birdy Mach has come across to the Londonderry father-son operation from the Craig Cross stable and chases a third win for them in his sixth start at his new home.
He lines up in a classy Gold Crown Yearling Sales Entries Close 1 December Pace (1,730 metres) field three weeks after his previous Bathurst attempt, where he ran fourth to Firestorm Red.
Steve Turnbull's Firestorm Red is among the field in this Wednesday night's race, as is Mat Rue's recent Menangle winner Fouroeight.
Open class races are an uncommon treat at Bathurst Paceway and driver Nathan Xuereb said he was more than happy to travel for the opportunity.
"Dad and I were keen to come here because we always look for where the horse is best placed and we don't mind travelling a couple of hours or so. We don't do as many trips to Bathurst in winter but once it starts warming up we're fine with heading over the mountains," he said.
"It's not a bad little field. It's a genuinely strong 120 grade race and you don't see too many of them out that way, and when you do they don't generally stand up too often. They do this week.
"All the horses are well respected and deserve to be around that grade."
There's a little bit of early speed down the outside of the field, where Birdy Mach starts second widest with Fouroeight to his right.
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Xuereb hopes Birdy Mach will be able to make a clean start ahead of the inside runners and get to run the race the way he wants.
"He's one of those horses with tremendous gate speed, where he can get to the front no matter where he ends up on the arm," he said.
"There's a bit of speed on his inside but he should be able to handle them. I'd say Fouroeight will roll forward at some stage during the run, probably off the arm but maybe not as aggressively."
Birdy Mach has changed stables on four occasions and over a successful career has amassed 27 wins from 87 starts.
Xuereb said at this stage the son of Mach Three isn't quite able to mix it with the best of the best but he's got the capability to claim city wins in the coming season.
"He's a Saturday night horse at Menangle, that's no doubt. We gave him a start there a few starts back and that was probably a bit of our own fault. He was still a little fat and we were still just working him out," he said.
"This time we're making sure we harden him right up before we head back into town. Once he's right and fit he can definitely compete against the class below those star horses."