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Stable star River Lad is spelling but trainer Natalie McCall hopes promising mare Lady Echelon can join the accomplished sprinter in her Brisbane winter carnival team.

River Lad returned home from Sydney after running second to Appearance in the Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Randwick last month.

“We were really thrilled with his effort and we were tempted to stay in Sydney for the carnival,” McCall said.

“But in the end we had always said our aim with him was the winter so we came home.”

Meanwhile, McCall has been working hard with Lady Echelon who will resume from a break in the Brisbane Fire Protection Handicap (1300m) at Doomben on Saturday.

McCall was disappointed with Lady Echelon’s last start when she failed to beat a runner home in the Just Now Quality (1200m) at Doomben on December 14.

“I know they said the track was too firm but we were disappointed and decided to rest her,” McCall said.

Lady Echelon, who like River Lad is by under-rated sire Top Echelon, trialled nicely when second to speedy galloper Spurtastic at the Sunshine Coast on February 25.

“She trialled okay but we will see,” McCall said.

Rain in Brisbane during the week means a soft surface will suit Lady Echelon whose five wins have been on wet tracks.

Tim Bell, who won the Tatts Classic on Lady Echelon in November, will be her jockey on Saturday.

She is part of a strong book of rides for Bell who is chasing Michael Cahill in the jockeys’ premiership.

Cahill has a 10-win lead over Bell but will miss the next six meetings because of suspension.

Lady Echelon is a $6 chance behind equal $3.60 favourites Steel Zip and Doctor David.

Bell’s book also includes Smiles For Layla, one of the favourites in the Rice Naughton Family Law Handicap.

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