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By Glenn Davis
Trainer Rodney Miller is hopeful of steering punters into at least two winners from his team of three starters at Mackay on Wednesday.
The 64-year-old was a former jockey who later worked as a foreman in Melbourne to trainers Gerald Ryan, Brian Mayfield-Smith, Graeme Rogerson and Lloyd Williams before moving to Cairns four years ago.
“I was foreman in Melbourne for a lot of years and spent 12 years with Lloyd Williams,” Miller said.
“I even spent a year training in New Guinea before we moved to Cairns.”
Miller believes Lassiter’s Lode can start the day on a winning note for punters in the Class Three Plate over 1800 metres.
The four-year-old has started eight times since being bought by well-known north Queensland racing identity Chris Jorgensen from the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable in Melbourne last year.
Lassiter’s Lode won at Innisfail and Cairns last November and has strung together four successive placings since, including a last start third to Cleo’s Poet in a 1609-metre Class Four at Townsville on January 16.
“He’s very consistent and stepping up to 1800 metres will really suit him,” Miller said.
“I think he will make a Cups horse during the north Queensland winter carnival and a race like the Cairns Cup looks ideal.”
Miller has similar Cup plans in mind with Helmaz, who tackles the Benchmark 70 Handicap over 1560 metres.
Helmaz was a last start winner for apprentice Marnu Potgieter in a 1400-metre Class 6 at Townsville on January 15.
The five-year-old son of Helmet has started five times for Miller since being moved on from Mark Kavanagh in Melbourne, missing a place only once in his stable debut in north Queensland.
“I think he’ll make a Country Cups horse as well but he’ll go through his grades first,” Miller said.
“He’s done well since his last win in Townsville and I think he can win again.
“I’m sure he’ll run 1600 metres easily and he should eventually get 2000 metres.”
Miller concedes he knows little about stable newcomer Ibini, who like Lassiter’s Lode and Helmaz, are also part-owned by hotelier and businessman Jorgensen.
Six-year-old Ibini won four of his 24 starts for Scone trainer Brett Cavanough and was due to make his stable debut at Cairns before it was washed out earlier this month.
“I don’t know a lot about Ibini but he’s been working well and his form before I got was very good,” Miller said.
“Two would be nice but three winners would be better.”
Miller has engaged Brisbane jockey Ryan Wiggins for all three runners.