Hardy gelding Lota Creek Gold will skip the Ballina Cup to take on open company in Brisbane.
Trainer Harold Norman entered Lota Creek Gold for the Ballina Cup on Friday and Saturday’s Roku Gin Open Handicap (1600m) at Eagle Farm.
Norman has elected to go with the Brisbane race which has a smaller field of 10 runners.
“He has come along nicely since his last-start fourth in the Lismore Christmas Cup which was a good run,” Norman said.
“Lota Creek Gold gets better with racing. That was his second-up run and I think he has had six second-up runs and never finished in the place money.
“But many of his wins have been third-up.”
Lota Creek Gold has won seven races after mixing his career with Norman at the Gold Coast and Kevin Hansen in central Queensland.
Five of his wins have been for female jockeys with Brooke Ainsworth aboard at the gelding’s past two victories last year and Rikki Palmer to ride at Eagle Farm.
Palmer is Norman’s former apprentice and rides much of the veteran trainer’s trackwork.
“Usually it is a case of who is available to ride him. Rikki and Brooke are great friends and both are riding plenty of winners,” Norman said.
“So it is a win-win situation for me.”
Norman has no doubt Lota Creek Gold is up to Brisbane open company.
“There doesn’t look to be a lot of pace in Saturday’s race so he should be able to take up a good position,” Norman said.
“A lot of the better horses have either gone back south or are waiting for the Sunshine Coast Cup next week. So this is his chance.”
Fellow trainer Lauren Abbott is hoping a drop in weight can help stakes winner Gold Symphony return to form in the race.
Gold Symphony, who had stints with Peter Moody, Snowden Racing and Tony Gollan as a younger horse, was a solid performer for Abbott in a North Queensland campaign last year.
Since resuming from a spell he has struggled under the weight scale and finished last at Murwillumbah on December 29 with 61kg.
Abbott entered him for the Ballina Cup and the Eagle Farm Open where he will carry 52kg after apprentice Jackson Murphy’s claim.
“A lighter weight and the 1600 metres should help him,” Abbott said.
Gold Symphony has been doing a lot of beach work to get him ready for Saturday’s race.