He was the 100/1 shot that shocked punters with a fantastic third place in the 2016 Stradbroke Handicap, but on Saturday The Virginian returns as a much more fancied player at Doomben.
When Toby Edmonds threw his then three-year-old in the deep end as a long shot Stradbroke chance last year, many form pundits assumed he was doing it to get owner Stuart Ramsey some race day tickets.
Edmonds knew The Virginian was a serious horse and although a Class 1 handicap romp didn't exactly look like G1 class form, the trainer was well aware of the size of the horse's motor.
"He's always had the talent, it's just the way it happened that he got the opportunity so quickly last campaign," Edmonds said.
Returning from a Melbourne spring carnival campaign when he was unplaced in two Listed race starts, The Virginian has done very well ahead of his return to the races at Doomben on Saturday, winning a Deagon trial on May 9th in easy fashion.
The low key return to action over 1050m of the Chief De Beers Plate on Saturday gives Edmonds and The Virginian the chance to settle early before stoking up late in the race - the trainer understandably anxious to see how his stable star hits the line.
"He had some knee problems so we brought him home and gave him a good long spell," said Edmonds.
"But this is his first test under race day pressure. We want to get him to the Stradbroke a...