A win in Saturday's $200,000 Listed Golden Mile would be a career-high for consistent Bendigo galloper Hi Stranger.
The Shane Fliedner-trained gelding has already won a Listed race over a mile this season - the Kilmore Cup - but Saturday's race at the Nursery of Champions is another step up in class.
The 2022 edition of the Golden Mile is the deepest in the 11 years of the race.
"It's a much stronger race than last year,'' Fliedner said.
"It's like a Group Three race or even a Group Two race, that's how strong it is.
"The horse has to race against these horses because he's at that level now. Last start in a handicap event in the Echuca Cup he had to carry 62kg.
"He's paid the price for being a very consistent horse.
"There's not much around for him except for these good races."
Hi Stranger ran fifth in last year's Golden Mile, but he had little luck in running.
With a fast tempo to be set on Saturday by Riodini and Holbein, Hi Stranger should get a good run in transit.
"From barrier seven I'd like him to be in the first seven or eight and one off the fence,'' Fliedner said.
"Last year he was on the fence and couldn't get any momentum and was beaten a couple of lengths.
"He needs room and needs to be winding up at the 300m. I'm sure the horse will acquit himself really well, it's just a matter of what luck he gets."
Hi Stranger was a $19 chance in early betting for the Golden Mile.
The Patrick Payne-trained Cherry Tortoni is favourite at $3.70 ahead of I Am Superman at $6.50 and Riodini at $7.
Fliedner will also saddle up Air Defence in race two on Saturday.
The gelding produced a barnstorming finish to run fifth in a tougher race at Echuca last start.
"I don't think you'd see a better finish on a horse over the last 100m,'' Fliedner said.
"Barrier 17 is not ideal, but he's a horse with some ability.
"He's no star, but if he can learn to settle and finish off like he did last start then he could be a very nice horse.
"It's about getting him into that pattern of racing."
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