Trainer Paul Braddon will pass up the chance to return to the Illawarra with Falcon’s Fury to defend his Group 2 Bulli Gold Cup crown in favour of his pursuit of the Bathurst Cup.
However, Saturday’s heats for the $40,000-to-the-winner are still teeming with top talent despite the 2017 champion’s notable absence.
Leading kennels, including those of Jodie Lord, Jason Magri and Mark Gatt, will all have multiple runners across the five qualifiers on the night.
Top Melbourne conditioner Kel Greenough will also make the trip north with Jimmy Newob (heat three, box one).
The opening event on the card jumps at 7.02pm, with the heats beginning 70 minutes later.
The winners of all five heats, as well as the three fastest runners-up, will progress to the lucrative final to be held on Saturday, February 24.