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Southern Lad is knocking on the door as he gears up for Wednesday's Ramornie Handicap

Southern Lad has been knocking on the door of a win this campaign and trainer John O’Shea is hopeful the potential for a drier surface will enhance the sprinter’s winning chances in the Listed Ramornie Handicap at Grafton.

O’Shea said Wednesday’s $200,000 Ramornie (1200m) had been a target for Southern Lad this preparation, and the five-year-old heads in off placings in his four starts this campaign.

After a first-up second in the Wagga Wagga Town Plate on a heavy track in late April, Southern Lad has finished third in the At Sea Handicap, second in the Listed Bob Charley Stakes and third in the Winter Dash, all at Randwick.

In the Bob Charley (1200m) he got within half a length of well-regarded sprinter Classique Legend on a soft track, with Ramornie favourite Snitz finishing third.

“All his runs this preparation have been really good,” O’Shea said.

“He’s probably desperate to get back on top of the ground.

“If you go through his form this preparation his best run was on a soft (7) and every other run has been on a heavy track. The drier the track, there’s a strong correlation between his better performance.

“Last preparation his best run was on a Good (4). Albeit he’s effective on wet ground, the drier the track the better his chances are.”

Grafton was rated a soft (5) on Tuesday and O’Shea hopes rain stays away before Wednesday’s feature races at the meeting where he also has three-year-old filly Fashchanel in the Grafton Guineas (1600m).

“They are tipping a bit of rain tomorrow. I’m desperate for it to stay away,” the Randwick trainer said.

Southern Lad, to be ridden by Rachel King, was on the third line of betting for the Ramornie Handicap at $6.50 on Tuesday and has barrier 11.

“He’s drawn awkwardly but if they get along at a good gallop it shouldn’t be too much drama,” O’Shea said.

Southern Lad is aiming for his first stakes win having finished second in the Bob Charley Stakes and fourth in the Carrington Stakes last preparation in his two previous attempts at Listed level.

Intuition, who is nominated for Saturday’s Sir John Monash Stakes at Caulfield, and Sandbar have been scratched from the Ramornie with the two emergencies, Tarbert and What Could Be, gaining starts in the field of 16.

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