Melpark Major no longer towers over all his 20-odd stablemates at Alan Tubbs's Bacchus Marsh property. Last year's SEW-Eurodrive Victoria Cup champion still rules the roost, but former Queensland behemoth I Am Sam now offers some harness racing competition when talk turns to the strongest horse in the stable.
"I don't think he's quite taller than ‘Major' - not many of them are - and I think ‘Major' is a bit heavier, but they are very similar horses in that regard," Tubbs said.
"He (I Am Sam) is a very strong horse as well and it's lovely that we've now got him around the place."
I Am Sam, previously of the all-conquering Bill Dixon-Natalie Rasmussen stable, will have just his second start for the Tubbs camp in tomorrow night's $25,000 Casey Classic at Tabcorp Park.
The seven-year-old son ofdebuted for Tubbs in last week's SEW-Eurodrive Victoria Cup Consolation, in which he was a solid sixth, just 2.5 metres from Notaswethort, after enduring a wide run from the 1200m.
Tubbs and his driver-daughter Amy took plenty of positives from the run and are looking for further improvement this weekend.
"We thought it was a good, strong run and he kept giving right to the end, which was good to see," he said.
"We're still learning about him. We didn't trial him and that's the only race we've given him, so hopefully he'll keep progressing and we'll learn a bit more about him this week."
The gelding will roll from barrier nine in 2240m mobile (at 9.40pm) that includes(barrier six), Ti Vogliobene (three), Atomic Ark (four), Sammy Maguire (12) and (13).
A big run against a high-quality field could be all the encouragement Tubbs needs to set I Am Sam for another crack at the $400,000 Group 1 BIG6 Hunter Cup at Moonee Valley on Saturday, February 6.
I Am Sam set a cracking tempo in last year's gruelling event and it took subsequent Watpac Inter Dominion heroto cut him down in the shadows of the post.
"We were happy enough with him last week, but he's got to keep improving because ultimately we'd love him to run in the Hunter Cup again, but he'd have to show that he's back to his best form for us to do that," Tubbs said.
Inter Dom noms close Monday
The SEW-Eurodrive Inter Dominion Trotting Championship picture will become clearer on Monday when nominations close for the time-honoured series.
The first payment of $110 for the series that begins with a pair of semi finals at Ballarat on Saturday night, January 30 is to be paid by noon on Monday.
Superstar Chris Lang duos Gift and will head the local challenge, while the best New Zealand has to offer are also expected to be among the entries.
Following the $40,000 semis, the $250,000 Group 1 final will be run at the emotional farewell to Moonee Valley fixture on Saturday night, February 6.
This Monday will round out a big week for Inter Dominion entries following last Monday's deadline for nominations in the pacers' series, which will be held in New South Wales during February and March.
A total of 81 horses were entered for the series that kicks off at Harold Park on February 19, 30 of which are based in Victoria.
Consistent big-race performer Smoken Up, one-time raging favourite for last year's series Melpark Major and dual Grand Circuit winner Mister Swinger head the Victorian charge.
Bendigo trainer Glenn Douglas is the most heavily-represented Victorian trainer with three entrants, while Lance Justice, Peter Tonkin, Alan Tubbs, Tony Peacock, Keith Cotchin, Glenn Freeman and the recently relocated Susan Hunter all have two entries.
Blacks A Fake, who will chase a historic fourth Inter Dominion crown in the $1 million final at Menangle on March 7, headlines the interstate contingent that includes last year's third placegetter Karloo Mick.
The Kiwis have a typically strong hand with Barastoc Grand Circuit leader Monkey King, defending champion, and SEW-Eurodrive Victoria Cup hero Bettors Strike among their representatives.
SEW-Eurodrive Inter Dominion Trotting Championship nominations aren't the only ones that close on Monday with noon also the deadline for the $50 payment required to enter a horse for the BIG6 Hunter Cup.
This year's $400,000 Group 1 will also be run at the final Moonee Valley harness meeting.