SET in Stone, Smokin Bopper and Goldplay all drew front- line positions to ensure their connections will enter Friday night’s $20,000 Pryde’s EasiFeed Golden Guitar Final (1980m) confident of success.
Cessnock-trained Set In Stone was the biggest heat winner on Sunday night, slashing his way to a 16m win in a good mile rate of 2:00.1.
Both his driver, Josh Osborn, and trainer, Cameron Davies, said after the impressive win that the barrier draw would play a major role in any subsequent success.
They were guaranteed a front row draw but drawing the mobile one would have been a delight.
“Drawing a good barrier will be a big help,” Osborn said after Sunday’s fifth heat win.
Osborn is yet to win a Golden Guitar.
Davies drove Xavier to success for Michael Formosa a few years ago.
He thinks he has a good chance to train his first Golden Guitar winner.
“He’s a nice type,” he said of the five-year-old chestnut.
“He looks like a thoroughbred doesn’t he,” he said while admiring the son of Blissful Hall in the tie-up stalls after his heat win.
“He had a couple of little problems last season but we’ve worked them out and he’s ready to go.”
He has nine in work and that keeps Davies busy.
While he drew the one, Nathan Hurst’s heat winner Smokin Bopper also drew well in three.
He’s one of three pacers the Eglinton (near Bathurst) trainer has qualified for the Golden Guitar Final.
Smokin Bopper streeted his rivals on Sunday night to win the fourth heat by 8m in a 2:00.6 mile rate easing up.
Stablemate, We Own The Night, will go from beside him in barrier four and Hurst’s third runner, Major Gambler, starts from the second line.
Goldplay, the Queensland mare trained by Bart Cockburn at Logan Village, starts from barrier six.
She showed brilliant acceleration to move from last to outside the leader in the first of the five heats on Sunday night.
She then cruised to a 10m win in an excellent 1:59.9 mile rate.
Cockburn was unconcerned about the draw as his daughter of Presidential Ball is a versatile pacer.
“She can race like that,” he said of her last to first sprint to sit in the death and finish on.
“Or she can sit back and run on – she’s very versatile.”