Four local gallopers are not only fighting for a win but their futures in the TAB Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1000m at Manning Valley Race Club's TAB meeting at Taree on Monday.
They are Lobban Hood, See Me Out, both from Taree, Mosh Vain from Wauchope and Port Macquarie's Just Sizzling.
They are under threat of being retired or sent to other trainers after having not won for a long time.
All have been thereabouts in recent races, suffered bad luck, or have entertained stronger local or provincial form.
Seven-year-old Taree mare Lobban Hood, trained by owner-breeder Robert Barnes, had its last win over 1106m at Grafton in April last year but showed by her third behind handy Makuba at Tuncurry last Saturday that she may have turned the corner and will be hard to beat.
Especially so after she will race with a tongue-tie on the first time after jockey Grant Buckley recommended the gear change after riding her at Tuncurry, he having again snapped up the ride on Monday.
"That was a much improved race at Tuncurry because she has been going terrible,"Barnes said.
"Grant said she may have got her tongue over the bit.
"She has had knee problems in the past but she is now as sound as she has been all her life.
"I would like to get a win out of her before I retire at the end of this season as a trainer.
"I wanted her to get past $100,000 prizemoney and she did that at Tuncurry...but a win would also be good."
Lobban Hood has had five career wins and four of them have been at Taree, at the distance and three of them on soft ground which she should get.
Six-year-old mare See Me Out, trained by Ross Stitt for Warwick Farm trainer John Steinmetz and his wife, Allison, hasn't won since Goulburn in August last year but has had three wins in preparations between Stitt and Steinmetz who he has known for about five decades.
Stitt said the mare showed promise earlier, her second last start for fifth at Taree being good but she was caught up in traffic last start when beaten again at Taree.
"She will probably be sold or become a broodmare."
Six-year-old gelding Mosh Vain is ready to show his best, according to trainer Colt Prosser, after a fifth at Coffs Harbour over 1200m.
"Although she has won over 1200m she didn't show dash over the concluding stages and I think coming back to 1000m will suit better.
"He is really well in himself and a soft track will suit,"Prosser said.
The gelding was on its way to Queensland, and still may head that way, but was given on recommendation to Prosser to train, he having a win with him at Port Macquarie in four local starts.
As for four-year-old gelding Just Sizzling, trained at Port by Neil Godbolt, it has had three thirds and a fourth at its last four starts and is overdue for a win at its 35th start for him and his wife, Maxine, who also own the galloper.
"He has been racing consistently (three wins and 10 placings) and I was going to sack him six months ago but he does enough to keep me interested.
"He has had a couple of hiccups in his work but has won at the track and distance," he said.
Just for the record-back in March last year Lobban Hood beat Just Sizzling at Taree over 1000m.
The club has a terrific card , one of them being the Iron Jack Class 1 Handicap over 1000m where a group of last start and recent winners are involved.
DOUG RYAN'S SELECTIONS:
RACE 1:Oakfield Tickets 1, Crete 2, My Sonny's Faith 3.
RACE 2:Dr Copper 1, Excelsa 2, Little Rocket Man 3.
RACE 3: Montana Thunder 1, Lobban Leroy 2, Zaru 3.
RACE 4: Cool Missile 1, Special Union 2, Sebago 3.
RACE 5: Salsa Dreaming 1, Reposition 2, Never Been Another 3.
RACE 6: Lobban Hood 1, Just Sizzling 2, Miss Devinci 3.
RACE 7: Nicconi Lass 1, Mr Piquet 2, Light Of Uluru 3.