ORFORD trainer Anne McGrath believes her tough jumper Mannertone is more seasoned to run in the Brierly-Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase double this year after only running in the latter in 2016.
McGrath decided not to run Mannertone in the Brierly last year, electing to go straight into the Grand Annual after running the gallant jumper in the Von Doussa-Great Eastern Steeplechase double at Oakbank.
“Let's just say the horse and trainer learnt a lot after the 2016 exercise,” the popular trainer said.
“Mannertone is a different horse this year. He's a more seasoned horse physically and mentally than 12 months ago.
“I'm confident he can cope with backing up in the Grand Annual after running in the Brierly.
“We've gone down a different path this year, only running him in the Von Doussa where he ran really well on Easter Saturday.
Mannertone is a different horse this year. He's a more seasoned horse physically and mentally than 12 months ago.Anne McGrath
“He had a jumps trial at Warrnambool last Wednesday and I was happy with his work.”
McGrath said Mannertone had been in work to prepare for the big double since before Christmas.
“We've done a lot of work in the forest around the farm to put the miles into his legs,” she said.
“He also did a lot of work at the beach as part of his program to get ready for these races.”
Last-start Terang Cup winner on the flat Gold Medals makes his steeplechase debut for Warrnambool trainer Symon Wilde in the Brierly.
Gold Medals has won three of his eight hurdle starts.
Wilde had the option of running the versatile Gold Medals in the Brierly, the Galleywood or the Warrnambool Cup over the carnival but chose a start in the Brierly for the seven-year-old.
Veteran jumps trainer Eric Musgrove will be chasing his fourth victory in the Brierly Steeplechase when he saddles up About The Journey.
His winners in the 3450-metre race are Thubiaan (2015), Chakra (2004) and Worthy Knight (1999).
The Patrick Payne-trained Zed Em is the early favourite for the Brierly. Bookies installed Zed Em as a $2.50 chance to win the 3450-metre race on the back of his last two steeplechase wins at Warrnambool and Oakbank.