A Canberra punters club will cheer home Kosciuszko favourite Handle The Truth from a top-secret location on Saturday after striking a deal with a licensed venue just days out from the $1.3m feature.
Less than 48 hours after the ACT emerged from its lengthy lockdown, the group of 11 mates will gather to watch the Keith Dryden-trainer Canberra sprinter aim to win his second Kosciuszko which would deliver the club the best part of $275,000 in prizemoney.
Securing a venue to watch the race proved harder than snaring the favourite after they invested $1000 in Kosciuszko tickets at the Jerrabomberra Hotel earlier this year.
"It's just been trying to have somewhere that can cater you that you can have exclusively for the day," club member Ash Carter said.
"The place we picked out they weren't even going to open until down the track when things eased a bit more but under the circumstances we were able to pin it down.
"The big thing is we're all together, a few of us are getting itchy feet about going up there but a handful of the boys are still waiting on their second jab, that would've ruled four of the lads out straight away.
"One of the other fellas has just had a couple of twins. We just want to do it as safe and sensibly as possible but still have that fun of being together and all that.
"It's a frustrating time but we're lucky we're not locked down totally."
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One of the conditions in addition to keeping the location a secret? The group must remain seated at all time.
Even if jockey Nash Rawiller steers Handle The Truth to the front at the furlong marker.
"A lot of that came into the wheeling and dealing, it's just crazy, you just don't know what's breathing down your neck with all this stuff," Carter said.
"You don't know if you can get in trouble. We'll just keep it as down low as possible and just enjoy the race."
The complexion of the Kosciuszko changed dramatically earlier this week when Geoff Duryea-trained fancy Front Page was scratched after suffering a tendon injury.
Heavy rain across Australia's east coast also lashed Randwick, which was rated a heavy 8 on Friday - much wetter than the ideal surface for Handle The Truth.
Dryden's six-year-old has held favouritism for most of the lead up to Saturday's race, and was still rated a $4.40 top fancy with TAB on Friday afternoon.
But the Cody Morgan-trained New Zealand import Edit has firmed all week, slipping under $5 with TAB on Friday.
"Not too happy with the wet weather, he's won on a soft but he's a better horse on top of the ground, he's going to let down a lot quicker on top of the ground with a firm track but it doesn't look like we'll get that," Dryden said.
"We can't change anything, it's set for us in stone so we'll do our best. We're in the race, we've got the horse ready so hopefully the owners can have a big day."