Newcastle trainer Paul Perry doesn't give much away, so when he is quietly confident about Pandano's chances in the $500,000 Polytrack Provincial Championships Final you know his horse is as ready as it will ever be.
Pandano bolted in to win the opening qualifying heat of the series at his home track back on February 27 and it will be seven weeks between runs when he attacks the 1400 metres at Randwick tomorrow.
Perry thought about giving the horse a run in a barrier trial, but when the conditions didn't suit he didn't hesitate to shelve that idea.
"I more or less intended to give him a trial, but where I could have the tracks were very heavy at the time so I thought it might've done him more harm than good," he said.
"It was just an option, so it's not an issue. He's done plenty of work and hasn't missed any and I'm very happy with him. He's done everything right along the way, he's tough and he should be able to sprint well fresh."
Pandano profiles perfectly for the event, having won five races over distances ranging from 1200 metres to 1600 and on good through to soft tracks. The four-year-old gelding fared perfectly at the barrier draw and will come out of gate six with leading jockey James McDonald on-board.
"I couldn't be happier with that," Perry said. "He should be handy all the way."
Pandano and Great News, which is trained by Kim Waugh at Wyong and won the third heat of the series at Gosford on March 13, dominate betting on the final. Great News is at $2.70 with TAB fixed odds and Pandano $3.80.
But, unlike her main rival, four-year-old mare Great News fared badly at the draw and came up with 16. The horse would start from 14 in the 15-horse field with the three emergencies out, but recent Golden Slipper-winning jockey Tommy Berry is capable of meeting that challenge.
"It's always nice to see a good barrier come out - four or five or somewhere like that," Waugh said.
"When you see 16 it puts a little dampener on things, but we've got a great jockey and I'll leave it up to him. He'll sort it out."
Waugh gave Great News a lead-up run in a Benchmark 88 Handicap over 1400 metres at Rosehill on April 3 and despite a wide draw she fought strongly in the straight before running a close second to Starspangled Rodeo.
The trainer said she expected further improvement out of that run, adding: "I thought she went super that day and she's done really well since."
Great News is the only horse Waugh sent to the series. Perry has another finalist in three-year-old filly La Jolie Fille, which won the Kembla heat on April 3.
The three-year-old filly is at $41 in the betting, but Perry certainly isn't dismissing her chances.
"She's a winner in this series, so she's found her way to the final pretty well," he said.