DECORATED Jasper gets an opportunity to put things right on his home track in the $15,000 Coca-Cola Amatil Cup in Ballarat tonight.
Decorated Jasper had a marvelous run at Bray Raceway early in his career.
The now 10-year-old won three straight on the circuit six years ago as he worked his way through the classes.
All up he won four times in Ballarat as he saluted in nine of his initial 14 career starts.
Luck has not shone on Decorated Jasper on the track later his career, though.
Three of his latest four visits to Bray Raceway have resulted in unplaced runs in the 2009, 2011 and 2012 Ballarat Pacing Cups.
Ross Creek trainer and Ballarat and District Trotting Club chief executive officer Paul Rowse gets another chance and undoubtedly his best chance yet to land a feature race at home with Decorated Jasper in the Coca-Cola Amatil Cup, 2200m – even though it is a long way short of the Ballarat Pacing Cup.
Decorated Jasper has contested the race once before, when fifth to Standelle in 2010.
This time he tackles the assignment as one of the two big-time players, along with multiple group 1 winner Melpark Major.
While they are in the twilight of their careers, the elder statesmen are in top form.
Melpark Major has been racing exceptionally well without winning, coming off a second in the Cranbourne Pacing Cup and an eye-catching fourth in the Victoria Cup at Melton on December 15.
Decorated Jasper was considered unlucky to miss out on a run in the Victoria Cup, but provided some consolation by taking out the Casey Classic on the same night.
Decorated Jasper’s speed has always been one of his biggest assets and Rowse received his first Christmas present when his stable star drew gate six – one inside Melpark Major.
While this gives him a decided edge in his battle with Melpark Major as they drop markedly in class, Decorated Jasper will have other rivals to deal with at the start.
Another grey beard Mister Grizzly looms as an x-factor in the early battle for the lead.
He has gate speed, an asset which helped him to back-to-back wins at Kilmore (Popular Alm Sprint) and Melton in October-November.
In a field up to and better than most country cup line-ups this season, the Coca-Cola Amatil Cup also features Nyah and Maryborough Pacing Cups winner from the Glenn Douglas stable, the emerging Mustang Mach and multiple country cups placegetter Our White Knight.
Leading trainer Lance Justice is chasing back-to-back wins in the event.
He has last year’s winner Our Malabar and Toulouse Lautrec.
The eight-race program also features the $10,000 Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club Snowball Series final, 2200m.
The series began with heats at Charlton and semi-finals at Maryborough.
The final has a strong Ballarat flavor, with Haddon trainer Jeff Clark with two starters Be Cool and Dutton Way, and Isabelle Delacour for Stephen Clarke (Ross Creek) joining Foldem.