Bathurst trainer Dean Mirfin will field a four-horse attack at this Sunday's CDRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400 metres) at Mudgee in a bid to go back-to-back in the $150,000 event.
The Mirfin stable erupted into jubilant - and drenched - scenes during the 2018 race in which Cosmologist came home the champion in torrid conditions, and the trainer is in with a great chance of repeating that feeling.
That's because he has the early favourite for this Sunday's race, I Am Capitan, which happens to be the 2019 Buckley's Carpet Court Banjo Paterson Cup champion.
The I Am Invincible gelding will be joined by half brother I Am Magnificent plus stablemates Worldly Pleasure and Alcatran.
Alcatran's runner-up finish to stablemate Electrified in Tuesday's Tyers Park meeting gave him the benchmark raise he needed to make the field of 14.
Mirfin said his five-time Highway Handicap placegetter I Am Capitan is looking the goods.
"He's in the best form of his life and hopefully I can go back-to-back but I'm under no illusions that it's a very difficult thing to do," he said.
"There's 14 runners in the race, all are relatively equally rated and there's a couple of runners going into this race with very good form. If we're fortunate we might be able to do it again.
"I Am Capitan's the favourite, which is good for him, and he's drawn well in seven.
"I Am Magnificent got the one, Alcatran 12 and Worldly Pleasure the eight so they've all drawn fairly well."
The race is dominated in numbers by Mirfin and Cameron Crockett's six-strong lineup.
Crockett's top weight hope Ori On Fire and Gayna Williams' El Mo are touted as the leading challengers against I Am Capitan.
"I Am Capitan beat Ori On Fire at Orange the other day. I'm not underestimating him at all, and Hugh Bowman's on the horse, but I haven't got a standout that I'm more worried about any of the others," Mirfin said.
"It will come down to whoever gets the best run, a little luck in the running and the horse who handles the condition of the day well."
I Am Capitan drifted slightly from his opening price in the betting market but looks set to start around the $3 mark.
El Mo received strong support in Friday's market and has moved ahead of Ori On Fire.
Hopefully I can go back-to-back but I'm under no illusions that it's a very difficult thing to do.Dean Mirfin
The Country Championships Qualifier is the seventh race on the card at Mudgee and jumps from 4.30pm.
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