Jolly Joker in hot form
A recent return to his career best form leaves Canberra based trainer Gratz Vella confident Jolly Joker can return to the winner's stall at Thoroughbred Park on Friday.
Having finished a close second behind the in-form Virtuoso when resuming the now eight-year-old would go on to notch up a convincing victory at Canberra two back before a game third placing at Orange last start.
"I've been very pleased with him he's done everything right this time in and is racing in great form," Vella said.
"A horse like him is very hard to place because he is a handy sprinter but there isn't a lot around for him at his level.
"He has had three runs this time in and has put in a 110% each time.
"He always gives you his all and will no doubt be thereabouts again on Friday."
Dropping back sharply in grade for Friday's event has seen Jolly Joker allotted the 63kg topweight with Vella electing to engage apprentice rider Koby Jennings.
"He's got a big weight on Friday but I've got the claiming apprentice on board which brings him right back right into the race," Vella said.
"He's [Koby Jennings] currently on a three month loan with Mark Schmetzer and although I haven't spent a lot of time with him he seems like a really nice kid."
While yet to have ever ridden Jolly Joker Vella said he has little concerns heading into the race.
"Apprentices have ridden him to seven of his nine career victories so he isn't a hard horse to ride and I've got no concerns with Koby [Jennings] having not ridden him before Friday," Vella said.
"He loves the fence if you get him anywhere near the fence you're going to be very hard to beat."
The Nick Olive trained Rose Of Falvelon appears the main danger in the race having proven very impressive when leading all the way to score at Canberra last start.
"She's [Rose of Falvelon] the obvious danger despite being drawn a bit wide," Vella said.
"She was very good last start when resuming and looks the one to beat."
Having proven competitive in Metropolitan company in his previous preparations Vella hasn't ruled out a possible return during the Winter carnival.