TRAINER Glen Milligan likes the chances of his pair Lion Class and Tayla's One in their Country Championships audition at Sunday's Taree race meeting.
He is working hard on helping them shake their worst habits with an eye on the main goal down the track.
Lion Class and Tayla's One, which have seven races between them at their home track, will contest the Sunrise Cundletown Country Boosted Championships Preview Class 4 Handicap over 1250 metres at their home track.
Milligan is looking for big performances from the pair to set them up for a crack at the MNCRA Country Championships Qualifier over 1400 metres at Tuncurry on February 24.
Referring to four-year-old gelding Lion Class, a three-time winner at Taree, Milligan said: "We've been working hard on teaching him to settle because he's a horse than can really rev up.
"Jon Grisedale goes back on him for Sunday's race and he won a race on him at Kempsey for us last preparation. Jon was pretty impressed by the horse.
"Lion Class won over the 1250 at Taree in his final race of that campaign and looked good again.
"He's had the one run back this time in and I expect him to be hard to beat on Sunday. I just hope they run along at a good pace because if they go a bit slowly he'll grab the bit and want to go hard.
"Looking ahead to the 1400 of the qualifier in a couple of weeks, he hasn't been over that distance yet and until he does there has to be a question mark.
"But the way he races he gives me the impression he can run that distance. He's just got to settle. It helps having a very experienced senior rider on him and I'm hoping he goes well on Sunday and then Jon takes the ride again at Tuncurry."
Five-year-old mare Tayla's One, which has won four times at Taree, has consistently made her task harder in races by producing bad starts.
"She's always slow out of the gates," Milligan said. "She half leaps out of them and she did that again first-up this preparation at Taree and missed the start.
"She got a dream run through the field that day and was still too good for them and she's won a couple of times over the 1250 at Taree, but obviously you want to try and improve her starts and particularly as the class of races she's contesting rises.
"Darryl McLellan will ride her on Sunday and hopefully in the qualifier as well, so it'll be good for him to get a feel of the horse.
"I'm confident the 1400 of the qualifier won't be a problem. She's come back bigger and stronger this prep. But she has always missed the start in her races and we've been practising jumping her out of barriers and trying to work on improving that.
"She started a little bit better the last time we did that, but I wouldn't say it was so good that I was happy with it. But we'll keep working on it and hopefully she comes out of the gates reasonably well on Sunday."
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