LEADING Wagga trainer Trevor Sutherland's galloper Lockmar looms as the horse to beat for tomorrow's $14,500 Cobran Carrathool Cup (1400 metres).
The veteran is the top weight in a six-horse field for the feature race at Carrathool and despite a mixed preparation will be hard to beat on the venue's iconic dirt track.
Lockmar has not placed since coming off a year-long spell due to injury but is looking the goods for tomorrow, Sutherland told The Area News.
"It took him a long time to get him right," he said.
"He had 18 months off, basically, but he's healed up good. The trouble was he's a big gross horse and just put so much weight on - it was a struggle to get it off him.
"But he's a very good horse on his day and I think we're just about right now.
"This is a horse that's won near $300,000 - if he's near his best, he's going to hard to beat.
"Going on his work Tuesday morning - which was sensational - I think he's near his best."
Sutherland will run six other horses in the six-race program at Carrathool, but said he never lost faith in organisers on the back of last year's farce, which saw the races called off due to an unsafe track.
Stewards have pored over the dirt surface in the lead-up to the popular event and gave the Carrathool Jockey Club an official tick of approval earlier this month.
"It's one of those things - nobody means to make mistakes," Sutherland said.
"In life, if you make a mistake and learn from it, you've done all right.
"It was a disappointing and frustrating day last year for everybody and the money involved. But, that's last year and this is this year.
"I'm sure the track's in good shape and ready to go, and I'm looking forward to going.
"We've got to be very careful in racing that we don't lose these sort of days.
"Heritage and history is part of Australia. We don't want to dismiss it, we should keep it for our younger generations.
"These are wonderful days for the community."
Elsewhere at Carrathool, Griffith racing will be represented by local trainers Russell Hogan and Gino D'Altorio.
Hogan's gelding Mortarman is entered in the final race and last placed in Wagga in late November.
D'Altorio has two horses ready for Carrathool - Out in the Third in race four and Imposing Vain in race three.
Both will be ridden by Griffith apprentice jockey Chynna Marston, who will also feature in the Carrathool Cup on Con Kelly's Artistic.