LOCALLY-trained gallopers Asudem and Trophies Galore will both use the Class 4 at Muswellbrook on Tuesday as a final lead up to the Hunter and North West Country Championship heat.
However, trainers Luke Thomas (Asudem) and Andrew Robinson (Trophies Galore) have different reasons for running on February 18.
Thomas needs Asudem to win or run second to ensure the horse has enough benchmark points to get into the heat, to be run at Tamworth on Sunday, March 8.
Winning or running into a placing is not so important for Robinson.
He wants to see the talented mare come through the race unscathed and pull up well afterwards.
Asudem has been a revelation this preparation, winning three of his past five starts, which included a record in a runaway win at Scone at his last start.
Thomas always knew he had a horse with above-average ability and hopes he has not run out of time to get the horse to Tamworth and possibly the final at Randwick.
"He took a long time to mature and grow up and kept blowing the start in his earlier races," he said.
"If he had got away cleanly in some of those earlier races he might have won or two more starts and we would not be chasing benchmark points at this stage.
"Fortunately, we have him over his problem at the start.
"There are so many good horses in this area being aimed at the Tamworth heat that I think a horse will need a minimum of 70 benchmark points to get a run and we only have 66.
"My original plan was to take him to town for a Highway but he was fourth emergency so he ran at Scone instead and broke the track record."
Samantha Clenton rode him to that victory but is needed on Tuesday for a Kris Lees-trained runner and the ride has gone to Chad Lever.
And, thereby hangs another problem for Thomas.
Several trainers are using this race as a lead up to the Provincial Championship heats thus pitting Asudem against some well-credentialled horses from leading provincial stables.
Robinson is a little more relaxed about Trophies Galore and where this race fits into her program.
She was sent for a spell after successive wins at Muswellbrook and Newcastle before running fourth at Newcastle on December 1.
"She took a lot of benefit from that break and is coming along nicely," Robinson said.
"Her work on Wednesday morning was very good; she handled the conditions very well and is where I want her at this stage.
"It was always the plan to run her in this race then go to Tamworth.
"If she doesn't win or run second, we can always come back to the Wild Card.
"I have a great group of owners who have been so patient always knowing that the plan was to target the Championships.
"It's an exciting time for country racing and knowing we have a horse that is a genuine chance makes it even more so."
Andrew Gibbons, who has ridden Trophies Galore five times for two wins a second and a third, has managed to secure a release from Kris Lees to ride the mare.
He will be married this weekend then return from a short honeymoon to ride on Tuesday and through the championship series.
The longer honeymoon will wait.