By TONY WHITE
EVEN the prospect of rival owner John Singleton flying jockey Len Beasley to Coffs Harbour by helicopter hasn't dented Grafton trainer Phil McLeod's confidence in Meteorite for today's $70,000 Coffs Harbour Gold Cup (2300m).
"It wouldn't matter if Beasley came up in a Lear jet, only silly antics will stop my horse from winning," McLeod said.
Multi-millionaire Singleton is the major part-owner of Cup topweight, Zagalia, trained by Clarrie Conners in Sydney.
Due to Beasley's busy schedule Singleton elected to let Beasley use his private helicopter to fly him to Coffs Harbour and return to Sydney.
It will be Beasley's first trip in the chopper.
In contrast to Singleton's millionaire status, five-year-old gelding Meteorite is raced by a syndicate of horse-loving Central Coast owners, including John Fulton and Eddy McManus.
McLeod is the first to admit today is Meteorite's biggest test but the in-form gelding gives every indication of handling the class rise.
"If he's as good as we think, he should win," McLeod said.
"If he's going to step into A grade then he's got to win this.
"The barrier (four) is beautiful, I've been happy with him since his last win and he's done enough miles to be right at his peak."
McLeod enjoyed one of his best even Grafton July carnivals recently, winning seven races and apart from Meteorite, has a strong hand in several other races on the Cup program.
Meteorite will be ridden by Darron Coleman, who has a good understanding of the headstrong gelding who can prove a difficult ride.
The gelding has won his past three starts impressively, the latest scoring by 3.5 lengths over 2050m at Grafton on July 17.
Meteorite gets back in his races and needs luck, but McLeod said his normal pattern of racing would not alter to take advantage of the inside draw.
McLeod has previously figured prominently in the Coffs Harbour Cup with Via Sinai twice running a place and Super Revenir also placing.
Despite Zagalia's status as a genuine Group contender, the six-year-old mare must lump 59kg and is coming off just two preparatory runs, the latest working home well over the latter stages when 8th to Shines over 2100m at Warwick Farm on July 23.
Another Sydneysider Square One (Zac Purton) will also have admirers as will Allan Robinson's mount, Yerevan, trained by Darren Smith at Newcastle.
Locally-trained Famous Dane, Picaplace from the Gold Coast and Concitare rate best of the remainder.