FOUR-year-old Port Macquarie mare Al Nova, the last galloper raced by the late Arthur Thompson, father of jockey Robert Thompson, is on trial for their hometown $27,500 Jungle Juice Cup at Taree Wingham Race Club's eight-race TAB meeting at Taree tomorrow.
The jockey's son, Simon, foreman for trainer Neil Godbolt's stable, is among family members who own the mare and it will be another emotional time should she win the Winning Post Function Centre Open Handicap over 1400m tomorrow.
"She has pulled up good since her last start (third in the Cessnock Cup) and after Taree she will go to the Jungle Juice Cup (over 1350m on July 1) at Cessnock," he said.
There were plenty of tears, sentiment and jubilation for members of the Thompson and Godbolt family after the mare won at Taree just before Christmas last year as Simon said then: "It was pop's last horse he ever owned."
Al Nova showed plenty of courage that day in scoring a nose win after a wide berth most of the way when jockey Robert was a victim of circumstances in the run.
It was her first win in two preparations since scoring in the rich Queen Of The North at Port.
The mare looks to have recaptured some of her old form with a second at Grafton and the third at Cessnock on a heavy track and will be ridden by Port jockey Priscilla Schmidt who had a winning double on Godbolt's Xena and Ozein at Port on Sunday.
Another four-year-old mare, Broadmeadow's Slots, trained by Grant Marshall, is also being aimed for richer races and is being aimed at a 1350m race at Doomben in about two weeks.
Marshall's gallopers have been on fire of late, having made in two wins in a row with Source Of Harmony (also going to Brisbane) at Wauchope Jockey Club's Cup meeting at Port on Sunday and with Slots having won at this track two starts back and then was fifth at Randwick.
"My mare was a late nomination for Taree because I thought I would keep her racing at 1400m rather than trial her before going north.
"She is jumping out of her skin and I don't start my horses unless they are going well," he said.
Another big hope in the race is six-year-old Scone gelding Star Of Dubai, trained by NSW country's leading mentor for this season, Luke Griffith.
It has been racing well in country cup events and was sixth in the Cessnock Cup after coming from an outside barrier.
"He ran a good race at Cessnock after drawing a bad gate and the distance is probably his best.
"My horse is nice and fresh and handles all going," Griffith said.
The big query entity is Taree gelding Onemore Eightmore, trained by Bob Milligan, having its second run from a spell.
It resumed in a race at Newcastle but blew the start by about six lengths, its finishing position being good considering the indiscretion.
The gelding has won at the track and would only need to produce the form when he won a string of races in one campaign to be a chance here.
"His only trouble will be getting away cleanly, said Milligan's son, Glen.
Coffs Harbour jockey Matt Bennett has been engaged, being a stronger rider, in the hope of the gelding getting away on equal terms.
Taree gelding Universal Belief, trained by Jim Delaney and to be ridden by Port jockey Peter Graham, has such a good record to also rate a hope.
Two starts back it was just beaten at Kempsey and it will appreciate the bigger stretches of the Bushland Drive track now that it is down in the weights.