Maree raring to go after nearly eight years on the sidelines

Maree Cross will make her return to the sulky after nearly eight years away when she pilots Downunder Barkers in the Reflex Glass / J and T Joinery Wangaratta Trotters Cup on Sunday.

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The 46-year-old's last drive was on August 25, 2016.

Cross took time off from harness racing to return to full-time work before re-claiming her love for the sport.

"I probably did get a little bit sick of it and I got a full-time job," Cross said. "It was probably a bit hard to work a full-time job and put the time into the horses, because you are starting early and getting home late.

"I gave my trainer's licence away and Dad (Bradley Cross), who is the trainer of the horse, kept his. But I kept my driver's licence, and I thought one day if I am lucky enough, I might come back."

The Kangaroo Flat horsewoman hopes she will quickly find her groove back out on the track.

"You sort of have to get back into the feel of it and he (Downunder Barkers) is easy enough to drive, but he does have his little quirks and perks to him. I must get used to driving again," she said.

"You sort of get that bit of experience when you can sit on him during the week. When it's Dad's horse, you don't feel the pressure that you are driving for someone else."

The squaregaiter's last run was on August 14, 2023 at Maryborough, with a change of ownership contributing to the seven-month spell.

"He was for sale from the previous owners and when Dad said he was for sale, and how much they wanted, I said that we should buy him," Cross explained.

"When he came over, he had his few little issues with an abscess in his back foot, but he is ready to go."

The 10-year-old has drawn one for the $12,000 feature, giving Cross a chance to dictate terms from the standing start.

"The times I have driven him at home, he has always stepped well from the stand. He will probably come out and go hard if you need him to," she said.

"It will probably be easier to come out of the front rather than coming out of the back.

"It sort of looks like a pretty even sort of race."

The Paul Tonkin-prepared Cracker Jet and Donna Castles' Berriesandcherries will start off the 10m handicap. Blue Coman, for Greg Norman, has the 20m back mark.

The other feature is the Yarrawonga Refrigeration and Airconditioning Wangaratta Pacing Cup.

The likely favourite is the Charlie Mizzi-trained Wotdidusaaay, who has drawn four. Daylight At Dawn, for trainer-driver Corey Bell, will be the only runner on the second row in the $12,000 event.