BENDIGO trainer Sean Mott is banking on a return to form and some luck on his home track from Our Lone Star in Saturday's $25,000 Elmore Cup (1600m).
The dual city-winning four-year-old is the top-weight in a 12-horse field boasting a trio of locally-trained hopes.
Among his main rivals are fellow Bendigo-trained gallopers Tatunka (Bob Donat) and Buchan Hoaks (Graham Donaldson).
Mott will be hoping for 'just an ounce of luck' after Our Lone Star has gone without any in his last two starts at Sandown, which followed on the heels of a stirring second-up 1400-metre win on the same track on April 18.
"I'm really happy with him - actually, I've been happy with him all prep, the 'run of the race' has just gone against him a couple of times," he said.
"His second-up win is his true form, his two runs since things have just not gone for him.
"He got left in front on slow speed (two starts ago) and last start he got too far back on a hot speed and couldn't get into the race.
"Everything has conspired against him, but from his draw (barrier two), he should get a lovely run."
Mott said Our Lone Star, allocated 61kg, would appreciate the 2kg claim of apprentice Hannah Edgley and a theoretical drop back in grade.
"Respectful of the other runners, he is a horse that needs a few things to go right, but from that draw, he's a chance, everything going right," he said.
"His last two runs he's had sticky little draws and things haven't panned out well for him.
"He's been a wonderful horse. He's earned over $175,000 and there's still a bit to come with him.
"He's still immature and he's still 12-months away from his peak, so I've always been a bit careful and protective in not throwing him too far into the deep end.
"I'm happy for him to test the water and come back a notch and play the long game with him."
A winner of three of 14 starts and placed four times, Our Lone Star's biggest success to date came at Flemington on Anzac Day last year when he won a $135,000 open handicap over 1700-metres.
Fellow Bendigo trainer Donat will also be hoping for a change in luck, not just for Tatunka, but also Red Cracker, who will contest the 1400-metres benchmark 0-58 in the race following the cup.
"Although you hate using excuses, there were excuses for both horses last time," he said.
"Red Cracker pulled up with a bit of blood and lame in one leg. He pulled a shoe off before the race and was a bit sore.
"But we'll be in there trying with both of them."
Donat is counting on improvement from Tatunka, who was forced to race wide throughout when fifth at his last start at Bendigo over 1300-metres on May 15, but was noticeably making up ground.
The extra distance should suit the six-year-old gelding, who despite never having won over 1600-metres, has run some top races over the distance, including twice being placed at Flemington.
"It's the easiest race he's been in for a long time," Donat said.
Donaldson is hoping Buchan Hoaks can break new ground by claiming back-to-back wins for the first time in his 47-start career.
The six-year-old earned a cup tilt with an impressive three-length win over the mile in a benchmark 0-58 handicap at Wangaratta on May 22 and has raced consistently this preparation with a win and three placings in seven starts.
The gelded son of Turffontein and My Hoaks has only once finished outside the top four in those seven starts.
His stable is in good form with two wins from its last two runners, including the six-year-old mare Just Wishing, who will be back in action on the Ballarat Synthetic on Monday.
Meanwhile, a fourth potential Bendigo-trained cup starter Tibetan was scratched on Friday morning, with trainer Matthew Enright confirming his 2021 Ararat Cup winner and Kilmore Cup placegetter had sustained a leg injury.
Enright was targeting a return to form and a step back in grade at Bendigo with his five-year-old, who finished towards the back of the field in his last start at Listed level at Sandown on April 30.
"It's just one of those preparations where nothing has gone right and now I've got this problem," Enright said.
"Whether he continues on racing I'm not sure, the vet is coming later today (Friday) to have a look at it and see what he thinks and we will probably scan it to see what the damage is.
"I accepted and he was fine and he had a little run along yesterday (Thursday) and there were no signs, but Thursday afternoon it didn't look too good.
"It's the joys of the game - you have to be resilient."
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