BRISBANE jockey Mitchell Rice has been chosen to ride Highest Power in the $22,000 QRSE XXXX Rockhampton Cup Prelude (1900m) to be run at Callaghan Park's TAB races on Friday.
Rice's engagement ended a frantic search by Gracemere trainer Jim O'Shea for a suitable replacement for Dale Evans who rejected the ride.
Evans long and successful association with Highest Power came to an abrupt end when he preferred the Rex Lipp-trained Midnight Avenue as his likely mount in the $85,000 Rockhampton Cup (2000m) on June 18.
Accordingly, Evans was required for Midnight Avenue in Friday's Prelude as well.
However, after weights were declared yesterday, Evans may be ruing his decision.
Midnight Avenue has been given 61.5kg, a questionable compliment given his mixed form.
Conversely, Highest Power seems ideally placed with just 55.5kg.
Topweight, with a crushing 65.5kg in the Prelude is the genuine stayer Celtic Trial.
In a farcically-run Tattersall's Cup (1800m) on May 26, Celtic Trial carried 64.5kg to beat third-placed Highest Power by less than a half-length.
With a more genuine tempo likely on Friday, Highest Power could easily turn the tables on Celtic Trial.
Interestingly, with Evans aboard, Highest Power won the 2004 Cup Prelude with 56.5kg, so he seems suitably placed with 1kg less to win the feature for consecutive years.
No definite booking has been made for Rice to ride Highest Power in the Rocky Cup as his itinerary for the corresponding Ipswich Cup races that day is uncertain at this stage.
Gold Coast hoop Paul Hammersley is chasing the Highest Power ride as he is keen to build on his 2004 Rockhampton Cup win on New Trader.
Treasure The Kwila (63.5kg) is topweight for Friday's $15,000 Newmarket Prelude (1200m) in which Rice will ride Steel Cap (62kg).
Excellent nominations have been received for Saturday's Girls Grammar race meeting which features the Rock Building Society Rising Star Stakes (1300m).