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Sydney sprinter Southern Lad needs a drying track to enhance his chances for an overdue win in the Listed $200,000 GDSC Ramornie Handicap (1200m) at Grafton on Wednesday.

Southern Lad, above, is one of the top fancies for the 2020 Ramornie Handicap at Grafton. Photo by Steve Hart.

Southern Lad, above, is one of the top fancies for the 2020 Ramornie Handicap at Grafton. Photo by Steve Hart.

Southern Lad has been placed at his last four starts, three on heavy tracks and once on a soft 7 and trainer John O’Shea is keen to see the Ocean Park five year old on a dryer racing surface at Grafton.

“He’s probably desperate to get back on top of the ground,” O’Shea told AAP.

“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.”

“But all his runs this preparation have been really good.”

The Grafton track was rated a soft 5 on Tuesday afternoon and O’Shea is hoping the forecast of a few showers on Wednesday won’t eventuate.

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

Southern Lad has been ultra-consistent this preparation after resuming for a first up second on a heavy track in the $160,000 Iron Jack Wagga Town Plate (1200m) at Wagga on April 30.

The bay gelding had to confront another heavy track when third in the $100,000 At Sea Handicap (1100m) at Randwick and then finished second on a Soft 7 rated track in the Listed $150,000 Bob Charley AO Stakes (1100m) at Randwick again.

Southern Lad was then amongst the minor prizemoney again when he returned to Randwick to face another heavy track when third in the $100,000 Bentley Winter Dash (1200m) on June 20.

Rachel King was aboard Southern Lad when runner up in the Bob Charley AO Stakes and is back on board for the Ramornie Handicap, replacing Winter Dash jockey James McDonald.

Both Ramornie Handicap emergencies, Tarbert and What Could Be, have gained a spot in the sixteen-horse field following the early scratchings of Intuition and Sandbar and Southern Lad will jump from gate eleven.

Southern Lad is well in contention in the Ramornie Handicap betting at Ladbrokes.com.au at $6.50 behind the Matt Dunn trained Snitz at $3.80 and Team Snowden’s smart three year old Hightail at $5.50.

Top local jockey Matthew McGuren takes the ride on Snitz who has drawn barrier six while Glen Boss will be the new rider on Hightail who will jump from gate four.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.