AVOCA Shire Turf Club is shaping up as a strong non-TAB program on Friday.
A 0-58 handicap, 1300m, has attracted the most interest with 53 nominations, while a benchmark64 handicap, 1200m, has 35 entries.
Patrick Payne has the top weight in the latter, with Marco Polo attracting 62kg.
Marco Polo has been racing well with big weights, having carried 60kg to victory in the same class at Donald two starts ago on February 21.
Vee Force, from the Ballarat stable of Simon Morrish, is next in the weights with 61.5kg, while the Paul Banks-trained Rouen has 60.5kg.
Vee struggled to find anywhere near his best in three runs in the spring, but the five-year-old does have a fair strike rate with three wins in 15 lifetime starts.
Rouen is also an acceptor for a meeting on the Geelong synthetic tomorrow, a circuit where he has had his past 11 runs and races almost exclusively since May last year.
Meanwhile, Payne is considering extending the campaign of jumper Lord Of The Song ($4.20) at the Warrnambool May Carnival, which starts on Tuesday.
Payne initially indicated Lord Of The Song would go to the paddock after winning the $160,000 Great Eastern Steeplechase, 4950m, at Oakbank in South Australia.
However, so well has the eight-year-old pulled up that he might still have another run in him. The Warrnambool carnival is traditionally an excellent hunting ground for Ballarat stables, with the likes of Darren Weir and Robert Smerdon regular big winners.
Each will venture to the three days with in-form stables.
The Weir juggernaut increased its lead in the Melbourne metropolitan trainers’ premiership to 19 with another double at Caulfield on Monday.
Weir has developed a habit of having multiple-winning days on city tracks and this time it was Princess Hussey ($9) in a three-year-old maiden, 1400m, and Tooleybuc Kid ($5) in a benchmark78, 2000m, which collected the chocolates.
A four-year-old, Tooleybuc Kid is ultra consistent with three wins and 10 minor placings in 16 starts for almost $150,000.
Weir’s Easter long weekend also featured wins to Siwa Lady ($4.60 favourite) in the listed Oakbank Stakes, 1100m, at Oakbank on Saturday and Flirtatious Girl ($8.50) in a BM64 handicap, 1000m, at the Stawell Cup meeting at Donald on Sunday.
SIRGASALOT ($18) put Ballarat trainer Daniel P. Kelly back in the winners’ circle at Donald gallops on Sunday.
A three-year-old by Delzao, Sirgasalot ($18) broke through in a maiden, 1620m, in his fifth career outing.
HILLTOP Hustler reinforced his promise by taking out the $25,000 Warragul Pacing Cup, 2620m, for Ballarat trainer-driver Michael Stanley on Sunday.
The four-year-old has shown plenty of potential since arriving from New Zealand and the Warragul Cup is the biggest of his eight successes in Australia.
Backing up in the last Victorian country cup of the season after a sixth in the Mildura Pacing Cup, Hilltop Hustler ($4.40) led throughout.
Hilltop Hustler has 10 career wins for $70,000 in stakes.
Ross Creek pacer Savesomtimetodream, which needed to win to secure the 2013-14 country cups crown, finished third.
At Menangle on Saturday night, Stanley qualified Soho Tokyo for the group 1 Australian Pacing Gold final for two-year-old fillies with a third in a group 3 semi-final.
SIR Dasher Dee was back in winning form for Ross Creek trainer Ron Jewell at Echuca on Sunday night.
And appropriately, Daryl Douglas, after whom the four-year-old is named, was in the sulky.
Sir Dasher Dee ($3.80 favourite) made it two career wins in seven starts in a C1 pace, 2160m.