THE Gold Ace is expected to lead and dictate terms in the $175,000 PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup on Saturday after drawing the pole.
Rival trainers Andy Gath and Lance Justice, who have two of the main dangers to The Gold Ace, yesterday conceded the NSW-trained New Zealander would be running from gate one.
Justice’s all-time great Smoken Up is most likely to work into the deathseat, while the Gath-trained Caribbean Blaster angles for a sit.
Smoken Up has drawn favourably in barrier four in the group 1 event, but The Gold Ace’s gate speed is expected to be superior to whatever the 11-year-old can throw at him. Caribbean Blaster will start from two.
Ballarat and District Trotting Club yesterday attracted a capacity field of 12 plus an emergency for the Cup, which has a $25,000 stakemoney boost this year.
Restrepo carries the hope of a hometown win as he strives to give Smythes Creek trainer Emma Stewart her second Ballarat Pacing Cup. She won with Safari in 2008.
Stewart also has emergency Metro Mike.
The Gold Ace, which is prepared by Belinda McCarthy, is one of three Kiwis striving to give New Zealand four consecutive wins in the Cup, following Stunin Cullen (2011), Highview Tommy (2012) and Mah Sish (2013).
He will be joined by Christen Me and Pass Them By, which is attempting to give the Christchurch stable of Tim and Anthony Butt its third win in the race in four years.
The Butts also had success with Stunin Cullen and Mah Sish, which will run in The Pure Steel at Bray Raceway.
The line-up also features Queenslander The Field Officer and the up-and-coming duo Abettorpunt and Keayang Cullen.
Justice, speaking at yesterday’s barrier draw at the BDTC, said Smoken Up had had only light work since his hard-earned second to The Gold Ace in Saturday night’s Shepparton Gold Cup.
“He’s super fit and really well,” Justice told a special breakfast, which attracted about 250 people.
Justice said while pleased with the draw, Smoken Up would again have to do all the work.
“He never gets a gifted run.”
Justice was not backing off though.
“He’s up to it. He loves it (the hard work).”
Justice said no matter where Smoken Up, a winner of 70 races and $3.5m in stakes, settled he would be there in the finish.
The cup, 2710m, will be race eight on a 10-event program, with the first at 6.25pm.
The meeting also includes the $20,000 Pure Steel, 2710m, and two $20,00 Australasian Trotting Championship heats, 2710m.
1-161 The Gold Ace (Luke McCarthy)
2-231 Caribbean Blaster (Kate Gath)
3-437 Hugo Play (Rod Petroff)
4-222 Smoken Up (Lance Justice)
5-222 Keayang Cullen (Jason lee)
6-673 Uncle Wingnut (Jodi iuinlan)
7-322 Christen Me (Dexter Dunn)
8-168 Abettorpunt (Matthew Craven)
9-612 Field Officer (Grant Dixon)
10-553 Restrepo (Gavin Lang)
11-227 Wartime Sweetheart (David Aiken)
12-163 Pass Them By (Anthony Butt)
13-313 Metro Mike (Mark Hayes) emerg