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Michael Heaton | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

Prolific winner Eldaytona has been in blistering form winning seven of his past nine starts but regular driver Lindsay Harper is mindful the four-year-old faces the toughest test of his career at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Trained by Sue Wiscombe, the son of Somebeachsomewhere will contest the Conditioned Pace (2130m) after dominant victories in lesser company over the past month.

Despite being a 10-time winner from 26 race starts, as well as recording 11 runner-up finishes, Harper is mindful of the leap Eldaytona will have to make.

“He just jumps in grade dramatically,” he said.

“This handicapping is giving us some trouble.

“He’s just won a less than 40 his last run – which is the old M0 – and he’s not allowed to go in a less than 20 and he’s not allowed to go in a less than 25 because of his last five starts.

“We had to go in either the Free-For-All or the Conditioned, which is level below Free-For-All, so it’s a huge rise in class.

“He’s a quality horse and I’m sure he’ll go well, but it’s a big rise in class.”

Harper is the only driver to partner Eldaytona in a race or trial and, whilst he has immense faith in the horse’s ability, he would have liked to wait a little longer before throwing him in the deep end.

“You like to get there gradually, not just get chucked in like he has,” Harper said.

“But he’s never drawn barrier one before, so that’s a bonus and will help him.

“He should lead so we’ll just see how much pressure he gets.”

Harper will also be looking to continue a winning streak with Middlepage, a horse he prepares himself, when he searches for a third-straight win in the Valedictorian – G1 Winner Pace (2130m).

The Tintin In America five-year-old will jump from barrier two for the third consecutive time following wins by five metres and seven metres the last two Friday nights.

“The barrier helps,” Harper said.

“He’s been really good, his last two runs have been excellent and he’s trained on well so I think he should go well again.

“Will I Rocknroll (barrier one) is going good but he hasn’t won for a fair while.

“He’s a quality horse and dropping back in grade I expected him to win pretty quickly, but he hasn’t been delivering.

“It’ll be interesting.”

Harper’s other drive on the night, last-start winner While They Pray, will line up in the Know When To Run MS Pace (2536m).

The Michael George-trained six-year-old will jump from the outside in only a field of six.

“If he had drawn where he could lead I think he’d be hard to beat, but it’s going to be hard out in six at the 2500,” he said.

“He’ll need things to go his way but he’s a definite chance and his last run was great.

“First-up he needed the run, his second run he ran last but finished right on their hammers and last start was a really good effort.”