Better Not Blue is considered one of the leading contenders in this year’s Provincial Championships, but trainer Michelle Ritchie admits she only made a late decision to run her stable star in the series.
Before the first of the Provincial qualifiers on Thursday, Better Not Blue is an equal $11 favourite with the TAB to take out the $390,000 final on day two of The Championships at Royal Randwick.
Ritchie will run her talented five-year-old in the first heat at Wyong.
Better Not Blue qualified into the final through the same heat last year, but Ritchie says it wasn’t always her plan to follow the same path again in 2017.
“I didn’t actually really map it out for him this year because I plan on going to Brisbane with him but he was still eligible so I thought I would have another crack at it,” she told The Punt.
Better Not Blue finished third behind Kim Waugh trained duo Supreme Effort and His Majesty twelve months ago before running a commendable seventh in the final.
The gelding by Churchill Downs was eligible to contest the event again this year and will jump from barrier nine in Wyong’s The Provincial Championships Qualifier (1350m).
“I will be happy if he just runs an honest race,” Ritchie said.
“I am probably not going in there expecting to win but if he can just run his usual honest race I will be happy.
“He is a lot better this preparation. He had a few feet problems last prep but this time I am really happy with how he is going.
“I can’t really fault him at this stage.”
Better Not Blue has had two trials at Warwick Farm heading into the first-up assignment.
“Josh Parr has rode him in both trials and the last one he said he was spot on,” Ritchie said.
“If he can go into this race as good as feels I will be pretty happy.”
Parr will ride Better Not Blue on Thursday.
Meanwhile, fellow Kembla trainers Robert and Luke Price will also have a runner in the qualifier with Noble Joey set to be ridden by Kathy O’Hara.
Noble Joey, a four-year-old, drew barrier 13 in the $150,000 feature event.