According to trainer Mark Schmetzer, connections of Military Bay have been eyeing the NSW Picnic Racing Association (NSWRA) Picnic Champion Series for some time.
The Hinchinbrook gelding finished atop the series standings with 34 points, kicking off his assault with a second at Trangie in December last year, before winning at Bedgerabong, Condobolin, Nyngan and Gunnedah.
The five-year-old will have Ashley Boyd on board when he steps out in the $50,000 feature event at Dubbo Turf Club tomorrow, which makes it a real family affair, with the popular picnic hoop the brother in-law to Schmetzer.
“January this year we started planning for it, Ashley Boyd is my brother in-law and we wanted to give the series a go,” Schmetzer said.
“No one rides him better than Ash and he is a real stable favourite, just because he has a good personality and attitude and he is a pleasure to have around.”
The biggest concern connections have is Military Bay’s ability to run 1400m, with the Scone runner never tried over the distance, let alone a winner past 1200m.
“That’s my only concern, he will be at the front at the final furlong, there is no worries about that, but we don’t know if he will run the 1400m,” Schmetzer said.
“If it was 1200m, I would have my brothers Hong Kong salary on it but we have to have a throw at the stumps at it and we will see how he goes.”
The bold front-running type will certainly take them on tomorrow, with Boyd expected to go hard for the lead in what could be a mad dash in the first 600m.
“We have tried holding him before and it doesn’t work, we just need to let him roll along.”
Schmetzer believes having a sound horse that can handle the weight is the biggest strength in the annual picnic showcase race.
“These picnic races, I’ve learned it’s not the best horse that always wins, they have to be sound and be able to carry the weight and he has ticked all those boxes,” Schmetzer said.
A win in the picnic series would mean a lot to Schmetzer and connections too, with the thrill of winning a race anywhere not lost on the stable.
“The day he won day at Nyngan, I had Leo win in town and Tammy (Boyd) called me to tell me and I was just as excited to win that race as i was to win in the city,” Schmetzer said.