After a torrid run with barrier draws, Nic’s Vendetta’s trainer Todd Howlett must have thought the forces of racing had a score to settle of their own.
But the horse’s luck has turned around in time for Saturday’s Highway Handicap (1200m), with the Country Championship hopeful set to jump from the inside barrier after drawing 11, 12 and 10 in three editions of the races for country-trained horses last year.
“Finally we’ve drawn a gate. It was a bit frustrating those wide barriers,” Howlett said.
Despite drawing wide, Nic’s Vendetta didn’t miss the placings in his three Highway starts.
“I think his runs have been good enough for the Country Championship,” Howlett said.
The four-year-old gelding’s name stems from sire Nicconi and dam Sweet Revenge.
He was a $13,000 yearling at the Scone sale and his earnings are nudging $60,000.
Standing in Nic’s Vendetta’s way will be unbeaten three-year-old filly Clipper whose trainer Matthew Dale has an imposing record in Highways.
Clipper’s three-year-old stablemate Super Star Bob is aiming to graduate from a debut win at Canberra while trainer Matthew Dunn, who is the leading Highway trainer with one more win than Dale on six, has Care To Think in the race.
Dunn rates Care To Think’s ability highly and has nominated the horse for the Group One Australian Derby at Randwick in April.