Ascot trainer George Daly has opted for Northam and the XXXX Gold Handicap (1600m) in an attempt to secure victory for California Dude.
California Dude ventures to the Avon Valley in search of his first win this campaign after five competitive performances at Belmont Park.
The son of California Dane was placed sixth behind emerging star Rohan in the Listed WAROA Belmont Guineas (1600m) earlier in June.
Last Wednesday week California Dude ran a tough and grinding third to Paige Kenney’s promising gelding Fanicio when racing over 1700m.
California Dude was trapped wide without cover for the entire trip but kept fighting in the home straight when he was entitled to pack it away.
Apprentice jockey Renee Forrest retains the ride and will jump from barrier four in the field of eight.
California Valley, with Peter Hall on board, looms as the danger to California Dude and pressed his claims with an improved performance at Pinjarra last week.
California Valley, prepared by Bruce Watkins and Gary Hitchcock, ran on strongly from seventh at the turn and finished two lengths second to Lovabruchill over 1400m.
The former Victorian galloper beat just two runners home and was more than seven lengths from Just A Noble when making his debut at Belmont on June 20.
California Valley has drawn barrier two for jockey Peter Hall, his only ride on the programme.
“The key is the barrier because he is a horse that needs a good gate,” said Hall.
“He is a new addition from over east and he will be ready to go.
“I don’t often travel to Northam unless they are worth going.”
The George Daly team can set the tone early when Bletchley Park filly Rimington clashes with Bellaxena in the first, the www.northamraceclub.com Maiden (1000m).
The duo meet again after finishing second and third respectively behind Damian Winn’s classy three-year-old Tempestuous Strike over 1000m at Belmont on August 1.
Tempestuous Strike led easily and won convincingly by 3 ¼ lengths with Rimington running on from third and Bellaxena making solid ground from the tail of the field.
The scratching of I Say Sasso has opened the door for Colin Webster’s Copper Rocket in the Spring Racing in the Avon Maiden (1300m).
The Husson Lightning gelding will be improved after a first-up third to Who’s To Blame over 1300m at Northam on August 2, when he worked into the race late.
Copper Rocket produced an eye-catching fifth behind Karrakatta Plate (1200m) and Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) runner up Keeper Quiet at Ascot earlier in March.
The Simon Miller-trained Titan Knight returns to tackle the www.avonvalleywa.com.au Maiden (1600m) after a fighting effort last fortnight.
Titan Knight led, was headed, fought back tenaciously before going down to Rock City by a long-neck margin.
That was Titan Knight’s first run since January and with improved fitness, the removal of blinkers and the step up to the mile, the four-year-old holds strong appeal.
There was nothing funny about stable mate Amusement Park when she faded to finish a distant last behind Democratism when resuming over 1200m at Belmont on July 21.
The Bletchley Park mare has drawn ten of 14 in the Northam Toyota A Good Deal Closer Handicap (1100m) and will need sharp turnaround.
But the four-year-old is from an astute stable and with the addition of blinkers she is capable of improvement.
Ima Cougar has yet to produce in 17 starts but rates highly in the Visit Northam Maiden (1300m) on her last-start second to My Fascination over the same distance when beaten a head.