No-one has embraced the Highway Handicaps for country-trained horses more than Robert Price who has more than one reason to do so.
The NSW south coast trainer has had a runner in every one since they started in October and saddles up Jostle in Saturday’s 1400m race at Randwick.
Price said the races were a boost for country trainers who are finding it increasingly difficult to win in their own backyards.
“I actually put in an application to the trainers’ association that there should be at least one maiden at country meetings for country horses only,” Price said.
“We are taking on city trainers all the time, mostly from Warwick Farm.
“Most of the races at Nowra on Monday were won by metropolitan trainers and last month at Bathurst there was a meeting where all the races were won by Warwick Farm trainers.
“So it’s great for us to be able to come to town and have a race which is for us only.”
The trainer was one of two successful country trainers at Nowra on Monday with Leami Astray an impressive four-length winner.
Price won the 1400m Highway Handicap at Rosehill on November 14 with Dashie De Luxe who appreciated the wet track.
But the trainer is hoping the predicted rain late in the week doesn’t come for Jostle who, like Dashie De Luxe, will be ridden by Kathy O’Hara.
“She won’t really enjoy it if it rains,” Price said.
“But I believe she is up to these horses.
“She wasn’t beaten far at Wagga last month and she is better second-up.
“She has no weight (54kg) and I think she is a real chance.”
Jostle finished 1-3/4 lengths from the winner when sixth of seven at Wagga on Christmas Eve after a four-month break.
Among her opposition on Saturday is the Tim McIntosh-trained Star Shaft, the winner of an 1100m Highway race on December 5.
Since that win, Star Shaft has finished third twice over 1200m at Wyong and Randwick.
He gets into Saturday’s race with 57kg after apprentice Brodie Loy’s 2kg claim.