BENDIGO trainer Brad Stevens hopes a week spent fishing and relaxing can end with the biggest catch of all on Friday night - Group 1 Vicbred Super Series success.
Stevens has Everybodylovesme lining up in the $100,000 four-year-old trotting mares final, taking on some of the big guns of the squaregaiting ranks led by recent Group 2 Breeders Crown winner Im Ready Jet and Illawong Stardust, coming off a solid Inter Dominion campaign.
While she is a 125-1 chance, Stevens is confident his mare can make her presence felt in a field now minus one of its true stars in Pink Galahs, who was scratched during the week due to a foot abscess.
"There are probably three of four horses better than her, but if she gets the right run, she can run a place," said Stevens in a frank assessment of their chances.
"Her heat run (when fourth behind Im Ready Jet) was a pretty good run and she won at Bendigo the start before by 20-metres, leading all the way.
"She has her share of ability - you probably wouldn't think that looking at her price - but she is ready.
"If she was able to find the front and maybe hand up to Im Ready Jet and someone does something wrong, we're in with a chance.
"It will be good for the owners. A bunch of Bendigo boys own her, so it will be a big night for them."
Regardless of how Everybodylovesme performs, Stevens said it was a thrill just being able to qualify for a Group 1 final.
"Fronting up for a $100,000 race is pretty good feeling," he said.
"I've had horses a fair while now, but since I've been at Bruce Morgan's place (at Junortoun) it's been a lot better.
"I've been able to get a few better horses."
Among the best performed in recent years has been the trotting gelding Endsin A Party, who has won seven races, highlighted by victories in the 2019 Mildura Trotters Cup and 2018 McNamara Memorial Trotters Cup at Geelong.
"This one (Everybodylovesme) beats Endsin a Party pretty easy," Stevens said.
"I feel she's very, very ready. If she can relax and not do anything wrong early and if there's some speed on she'll be there.
"She gets a bit of white line fever."
Everybodylovesme will be driven by Jason Lee, who will be chasing back-to-back wins in this race following his success last New Year's Eve with Keayang Livana.
Keyang Livana is by the same sire as Everybodylovesme in Imperial Count.
Stevens, who is on a holiday in east Gippsland with his son, will be a notable absentee on race night, but plans to watch the race in the Marlo pub.
"For people like me, who are not full-time trainers and are tradies, it's one of the only times of the year we can get away," he said.
"It was a hard choice, but my son (Brady) has been in lockdown in Melbourne and I haven't seen him much this year. He's up here with me.
"We'll be out fishing during the day and then back at the Marlo pub watching it."
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