Reigning Southwest and Riverina Horse of the Year Million Dollar Gem returns to the track for the Griffith Cup heats on Tuesday.
In a change of programming, heats of the feature race will be run on the Melbourne Cup Day meeting before the $13,000 final on November 10.
Trainer-driver Brett Woodhouse is pleased with the five-year-old, but expects the run will do her plenty of good.
“She seems fit and well but hasn’t had a trial or anything so she probably needs a run but everything seems in order,” Woodhouse said.
“I really would have liked to have trialled her but I was a bit lazy and was enjoying the break.
“I brought her in, jogged her for three weeks, gave her a hopple and thought I had better had a look.
“I seen that race and I wished I had of brought her in a couple of weeks earlier.
“She’d be 85 per cent there and would be due for a trial next week but she has a good draw.”
While the inside of the second row draw would look like an obstacle for most, Woodhouse was pleased with the seven.
With her racing style he expects it will suit.
“I was really happy with the draw even though it was inside of the second line,” he said. “She should be able to get a soft trip there and if she gets a bit of luck she can finish off pretty good.
“She’s not the type of horse who can go out and grab a race by the throat, she needs to have a sit to finish it off.”
He will take the reins this time around.
Million Dollar Gem won nine of her 19 starts last season, culminating with group three success in a NSW Breeders Challenge Regional Final, plus another seven placings.
It helped her be named the region’s best pacer and Woodhouse is looking to kick start a new campaign on a winning note.
He believes it looks very suitable.
“There are a lot of good horses in there who have been out of form, but with the back on it with no New Zealand horses in there it made it attractive for us,” Woodhouse said.
“Looking at the fields I would say it is a lot weaker this year to what it has been in previous years.”
Woodhouse nominated the mare expecting it to be weaker than past years.
Million Dollar Gem looks a stand out in the first of the three cup heats.