Such is the prestige, competitiveness and prize money associated with this weekend’s Ballarat Cup, I – and many others – consider this the unofficial opening of Harness Racing Victoria’s Summer of Glory carnival.
As always, the Cup is loaded with top-end talent but deeper than you think on first inspection.
Staggeringly, one-time ID18 favourite Spankem goes around in a C3-C4 event so at least we should be able to nail one winner on the card.
In exciting (and nerve-racking) news, I’ve been given the chance to spend $100 per race across the 10-race card to try and make a few bucks for a young friend of mine from Adelaide who is going through some significant health issues at the moment. It looks a tough betting night but, Jed, I hope I can snare a few winners for you, buddy!
The Victoria Derby heats look incredible. At my count, there are eight who have already claimed Group victories, plus a few unknown talents like Malcolms Rhythym, Max Delight and Our Millionaire. There’s also a young gun named Watch List going around in one of the strongest heats you’ll ever see. I have a share in him so I’ll be trackside hoping he can pull off a miracle. When it comes to racing, you just never know…
Let’s take a look at the Cup, Derby heats and Cochran Trotters Cup;
PETSTOCK BALLARAT PACING CUP (Group 1, $110,000)
Thefixer – Reigning NZ Cup champ is poised to get the lead or even hand over the front to stable mate Cruz Bromac. Such a progressive customer – he’s a massive player in this one and all other major races moving forward.
Cruz Bromac – Has adapted to open class staying races magnificently with All Stars. His NZ Cup run was great and he was superb throughout ID18. Likely breezes here outside Thefixer.
Our Uncle Sam – A revelation throughout ID18 and excellent in the Shepparton Cup. Ordinarily driven with a cold run, his toughness has been on display more often of late. I doubt he can win but he deserves to be No. 1 seed behind the All Stars duo.
Buster Brady – Has acquitted himself nicely to Australian racing but he could never quite match it with the big guns in New Zealand. His Geelong Cup win was excellent but he meets far more credentialed opposition here.
Rackemup Tigerpie – Has exploded onto the scene. Has won 10 of his past 13 starts including the Ballarat Lightning Sprint, Gunbower Cup and a Group 3 event on ID18 Grand Final night. It’s his introduction to open class racing against the best but do not be surprised to see him among the first few home.
A Hundred To One – Can’t Refuse, Our Triple Play, Delight Me, Tough Call, Salty Robyn.
1 Thefixer (3)
2 Cruz Bromac (6)
3 Rackemup Tigerpie (9)
4 Can’t Refuse (1)
EB COCHRAN TROTTERS CUP (Group 2, $30,000)
This edition of the Cochran Cup sees just eight runners go round but, gee, it’s an even contest on paper. The market has the outside, Pizza Queen, at 20/1 however she knocked off the second favourite, Dance Craze, only a fortnight ago.
Save Our Pennys was extremely honest and consistent throughout ID18 and deserves a big win but anything close to $2 is no good. Dance Craze has been unprofessional in her most recent runs but the talent is undeniable. It would be foolish to overlook little Sky Petite, particularly after she was runner-up to Tornado Valley at 100/1 in the ID18 Grand Final.
1 Dance Craze (5)
2 Save Our Pennys (4)
3 Sky Petite (7)
4 Big Jack Hammer (8)
VICTORIA DERBY – Heat 1
We have a dominant favourite here in Hurricane Harley but there is no shortage of talent in this – or any – heat of the Derby. Harley is speedy and classy but threw it all away in a VicBred Final so he’s perhaps not quite the pro he needs to become. Stable mate Our Millionaire broke a track record at his most recent run whilst Betternbetter is the boom horse drawn out the back who will need to get moving to ensure he progresses. Hardhitter is a group 1 winner and Malcolms Rhythym is untapped, despite having won his past four races.
1 Hurricane Harley (1)
2 Betternbetter (10)
3 Malcolms Rhythym (9)
4 Hardhitter (5)
VICTORIA DERBY – Heat 2
What a race we have here. Likely the highlight of the night – including the Cup. Another Masterpiece is a group 1 winner with more than $300k beside his name, Muscle Factory just went 1:49.6 at Menangle and has won a group 1, Demon Delight went 1:52.7 at his third start, Centenario has won two group 1’s and Lochinvar Art may be the horse with the most hype of all… Stunning.
One – maybe more – of these big guns will not make it through to next week. Here’s hoping my boy, Watch List, can storm home after the others have drilled each other!
1 Centenario (9)
2 Another Masterpiece (1)
3 Lochinvar Art (7)
4 Watch List (4)
VICTORIA DERBY – Heat 3
Comfortably the softest heat, there are a few winning hopes in this one. Supreme Dominator is a Kiwi who has been running good races to the very best in NZ. Barry Purdon only ever brings out quality animals. Nostra Ideal went amazingly well at Hamilton and draws to lead make an attempt at securing the lead. Max Delight looks a future star and has already beaten series star Lochinvar Art whilst Perfect Major, Soho Thunderstruck and Fourbigmen will all give a sight in a very even race.
1 Soho Thunderstruck (8)
2 Max Delight (3)
3 Supreme Dominator (1)
4 Nostra Ideal (2)
Here’s how I will be attacking the night for Jed. I hope I can earn you a quid, bud.
R1: $50 each way (2) Illawong Gerry
R2: $100 win (2) Bit Of A Dream
R3: $100 win (5) Pantzup
R4: $50 each way (10) Betternbetter
R5: $100 win (5) Dance Craze
R6: $50 win (7) Lochinvar Art & $50 win (9) Centenario
R7: $50 win (3) Thefixer & $50 box trifecta 3,6,9
R8: $50 win (8) Soho Thunderstruck & $50 box trifecta 1,2,3,8
R9: $100 win (2) Spankem
R10: $100 win (4) The Brooklyn Brawler