YANGERY trainer Jarrod McLean kicks off promising jumper Big Jam’s Oakbank’s Easter carnival campaign on the flat at Warrnambool today.
McLean is aiming Big Jam at the feature steeplechases at Oakbank: the Von Doussa and Great Eastern.
He said the eight-year-old, which ran fourth in last year’s Von Doussa and third in the Great Eastern, had to hit the track today in a bid to be ready for the March 30 Oakbank carnival opening day.
But McLean isn’t expecting much when Big Jam lines up in the rating 62 handicap (1400m).
“He will run a long last,” McLean said.
“This is one thing you can be certain about.”
He said Big Jam was “totally disinterested” in flat racing but he needed to get work into the gelding before switching him to jumps trials next month.
“He’ll only have two flat runs,” he said.
“This is more for the excitement and getting him ticking over.
“He will have a number of hurdle trials.”
His next run on the flat will be in an 1850-metre race at Terang on January 25. McLean said he had learnt last season that Big Jam preferred the better going over obstacles.
He said his focus would be Oakbank and if conditions were dry leading into Warrnambool’s May carnival, he might have another shot at the Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m), a race he finished 10th in last year.
But the firmer going at Oakbank would represent his best chance of success, he said.
Another Grand Annual hopeful, the Aaron Purcell-trained Dhaafer, is also in the field today as the import has his second run back after a spell.
Today’s eight-race card opens with a three-year-old fillies maiden plate (1200m) at 1pm.