THERE are few more successful partnerships in the Riverina.
And they get too few chances to compete this close to home, so trainer Ellen Bartley and her partner, gun reinsman Blake Jones, will be looking for a big night when they head for Leeton tonight.
The home-track advantage should work in their favour with Blake listed to drive four favourites or equal favourites on the eight-race card – with three of those for Bartley, who will have the majority of her 10-horse team going around there tonight.
Blake has high hopes for a couple of his drives but did hint that a couple of others might be under the odds with their ability not quite as impressive as their early odds.
Still his first drive will be for another strong Leeton stable when he drives three-year-old filly North Canam ($5) for Col Thomas in the opening race, the TAB Odds and Evens Pace.
“She doesn’t go too bad but actually fell at Temora at her last start and they called the race off,” he said.
“Hopefully she does everything right tonight. She has drawn OK but she is up against some older horses.
“Col [Thomas] has given her a few easy trials to get her confidence back and she should be fine and come out nice and lob a spot and we’ll take it from there.”
Blake will partner Rocky Branach in Race 4 where he has been listed an odds-on favourite in early markets.
“He’s not the easiest horse to drive, he has a few little tricks up his sleeve but his last couple of runs have been really good,” he said.
“Last week was a good effort when he was able to get around to the death seat fairly easily and from there we were able to dictate the race.
“I’m not sure if we can get there as early this week but as long as he gets away safely he’ll go OK because you can drive him with a sit or make him do a bit of work and he’s up for it.”
Jones said the small field in Race 7 should help Forever Yin as he wasn’t that quick away from the gate.
“He’s got a fair bit of ability and if he does everything right I think he should be pretty hard to beat.”
Jones drives Harry Croft in the last and he did admit the gelding was ‘no star’.
“We’ll try and go forward tonight and see if we can get a spot near the lead. Last week going back didn’t work out so we’ll push forward and hopefully go a bit better this time around.”
SET FOR A BIG NIGHT: Blake Jones