Warrnambool trainer Symon Wilde rates former Kiwi jumper Vanguard his best winning chance in the 3YB FM Scotty Stewart Brierly Steeplechase on the opening day of the TAB May Racing Carnival.
Wilde said he would push forward to Thursday's Grand Annual Steeplechase if Vanguard performs as well as expected.
Wilde will also saddle up Britannicus in Tuesday's race, however a wet weather forecast threatens to dull his hopes in the $175,000 race over 3450 metres.
"We don't need much more rain for Britannicus," Wilde told The Standard.
We were impressed by his New Zealand form so some stable clients purchased him.- Symon Wilde
"He's a bit of a duffer on heavy ground but in saying that he's going well. Britannicus would be competitive if he gets conditions to suit but I've been impressed with Vanguard since he joined our stables.
"He won two jumps races in New Zealand before we got him. We were impressed by his New Zealand form so some stable clients purchased him.
"We've given him two flat runs and a run in a restricted 'chase at Hamilton last month which he won. His win at Hamilton was very good but it was a weak field.
"I think there's a fair bit of scope to him. He trialled up well at Warrnambool last week. Vanguard must run well in the Brierly, if we're to push ahead with a start in the Grand Annual. We'll just see how he goes on Tuesday before talking about runs in the Annual."
Gold Medals won the 2018 Brierly for Wilde. The two-time Grand Annual Steeplechase-winning trainer said Tuesday's race was not big on numbers but it would be hard to win. "The Brierly looks a tricky race on paper," he said.
"I rate Valac and Bit Of A Lad highly. Bit Of A Lad is the class runner in the field. He ran second in last year's Brierly. I thought he trialled well at Warrnambool last Wednesday while Valac showed with his first up win over the fences at Pakenham that he's in for a good season."
Early betting markets on Tuesday's feature have Valac as the favourite at odds of $2.70. Vanguard is rated a $3.60 hope and Britannicus is a $4.20 chance. The Brierly Steeplechase is scheduled to start at 2.20pm.
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.