EAGLE Farm trainer Desleigh Forster says everything has fallen nicely into place as she aims to win her first Slipway Hotel Ballina Cup (1600m) today with up and coming four-year-old Romanarma, to be ridden by Ric McMahon.
Forster said she and the horse's owners had decided some time ago to target the centenary cup and the fact that the track had improved to a dead 4 yesterday afternoon with the promise of fine weather and a high of 23 degrees today was, in her words, "perfect".
"Everything has fallen nicely into place and when he drew barrier one I just had to hope that the track would dry out and then we would be in the cup with a big chance," Forster said.
Romanarma has won two of his last three starts, both at Eagle Farm over 1200 and 1300 metres before running fourth on a heavy track over 1350 metres at Doomben, at his last start, on August 23.
"The horse does not handle heavy going but he had to have that run to get him up to the 1600 metres of the cup," Forster said. "Considering he does not like that sort of going I thought it was a very good run."
Romanarma has only had 11 starts for four wins and this is his first attempt at 1600 metres.
Gold Coast trainer Maryann Brosnan, a regular at Ballina, is making a two-pronged attack on the cup with War Ends (apprentice James Orman and Perfect Punch (apprentice Rikki Jamieson).
The cup looks to have a ready-made leader in the Taree-trained Onemore Eightmore, to be ridden by apprentice Andrew Adkins.
Two starts back the horse led all the way to win the Taree Cup Prelude (1624m) but failed to run out the trip when 11th in the Taree Cup over 2000 metres.
"We thought he might have been a 2000-metre horse but the cup proved otherwise," foreman Glenn Milligan said.
"It looks like 1600 metres is as far as he wants to go and racing right up on the pace or leading is where he is most comfortable."
The scratching of Harada Bay, Platinum State and Dienekes leaves the way open for the three emergencies to gain a start including Nujooloo Road, trained at Ballina by Stephen Phelps.
Nujooloo Road won the Benchmark 60 over 1600 metres at last year's cup meeting and followed that up in quick succession with a third at Lismore and another Ballina win.
He has failed to run a place in 10 starts since, although he did give a glimpse of returning to form when fourth over 1600 metres at Ballina two starts back after coming from 10th on the turn.