EMMA Stewart expects the speed to be on from the outset in tonight’s group 1 $175,000 PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup, 2710m.
And if it is, that will suit her just fine.
Her stable runner, Restrepo, is at his best when saved for a late charge and, from his second row draw, that will be what reinsman Gavin Lang will be angling for.
With short-priced favourite The Gold Ace in gate one and Smoken Up in four, it is impossible to imagine anything else but a hectic start.
The Gold Ace is tipped to lead, but Lance Justice will almost certainly use Smoken Up to test the Belinda McCarthy-trained Kiwi pacer early, just in case there is a kink in his amour.
While this is on, the likes of Caribbean Blaster, Christen Me and Restrepo will be searching for a spot in the running line, waiting to set up what is sure to be a three-wide.
Stewart is aiming to capture her second Ballarat Pacing Cup victory with the five-year-old.
She took out the then Australasian Grand Circuit event with Safari in 2008 in what was a golden era for hometown pacers in the cup.
Robin Hood (trained by Peter Tonkin) won in 2006 and Sting Lika Bee (Brian Tuddenham) in 2007.
Stewart and partner Clayton Tonkin are looking to the first Ballarat winner since that trio, with Restrepo having to break a New Zealand stranglehold on the race to do so.
The Smythes Creek stable also has the cup emergency, Metro Mike, but as of last night he was still to secure a start and instead looked like going to the $20,000 Pure Steel, 2710m.
Restrepo, which was sidelined with a self-inflicted cracked cannon bone at the end of three-year-old preparation, is still relatively new to racing in this company.
He is still on a learning curve and Stewart has no doubt that whatever he achieves this time, which will also feature next Saturday’s $400,000 AG Hunter Cup, he will be improved by the experience.
Restrepo has been a model of consistency throughout his career, 16 wins in 31 starts, and this season has been no exception.
He won The Legends at Melton and then the group 1 Coca Cola Sprint at Menangle to earn a start in the Miracle Mile, and also showed his staying ability to a solid sixth in the Victoria Cup and last-start third in the Shepparton Gold Cup.
Stewart said she was more than happy with his Shepparton run.
She believes he might have even finished closer to The Gold Ace and Smoken Up had he been wound up earlier.
Although Restrepo possesses blistering speed, Stewart said his ability to follow the speed and work into a finish was becoming a greater strength. Stewart said this was why a quick tempo suited him so
Restrepo will be Stewart and Tonkin’s last Ballarat Pacing Cup runner from their existing training operation.
The state’s leading stable has out-grown the property and is only a few months away from relocating to a new set-up between Haddon and Cardigan.