A win in the $70,000 Skyracing.TV-Provincial Championship Series Final (1400m) at Belmont holds more than just bragging rights.
For Pingrup trainer Alan Smith, who saddles Gradual Incline, it represents a big opportunity of securing his first city success.
“To win my first race in town would be sensational,” Smith said.
“Dad (Kevin) has won plenty of races in the city, but I haven’t has yet.
“I’ve been training on and off for the 13 years, but in the last three years I’m back into it.
“It seems pie in the sky at the moment, but you never know.”
Smith’s hopes of a city breakthrough rests with Gradual Incline, a four-year-old gelding who secured a place in Saturday’s line-up when he ran on from midfield to score by a half-length at Narrogin on April 22.
Last start at Ascot he performed solidly behind, Kokopu, a half-brother to last year’s Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) champion, Pounamu, running the quickest final 600m when 2 ½ lengths sixth.
“He is going ok and has done nothing wrong this preparation,” Smith said.
“He is a nice little horse who has been very good to me.
“I’m sure he will run another good race, but I’m hopeful rather than confident.”
In a capacity field of 16 runners, Gradual Incline has drawn barrier eight. In form jockey Pat Carbery takes the mount for the first time, replacing apprentice, Andrew Castle.
“I decided to go with a senior, but Glenn (Smith) was unavailable,” Smith said.
“Pat called up looking for the ride and I was more than happy to put him on.
“That he came searching for the ride gives me some added confidence.”
Smith said talented Dan and Ben Pearce-trained gelding, Vital Silver and Kleva Keeza, a last-start winner at Northam for Justine Erkelens, pose the biggest threats to Gradual Incline.
Vital Silver, who has won three of five races, holds $3.10 TAB favouritism.
Gradual Incline is rated a $21 chance.