Two of the state’s leading kennels go into Ballarat Greyhound Cup heats Morshead Park on Friday night with a twofold target.
As well as chasing one of the biggest feature events on the Victorian country circuit, they are in running for a $50,000 bonus.
Myrniong trainer Anthony Azzopardi has Zambora Brockie and Pearcedale’s Jason Thompson has Aston Bolero eligible to pick up the extra cash which Greyhound Racing Victoria offers to any dog which wins three of the state’s 11 country cups in the one year.
If either salutes in the final on Friday, December 2, the bonus will be added to the already lucrative first stakemoney of $77,000.
Zambora Brockie has the Horsham and Warrnambool Cups under his belt, while Aston Bolero has saluted in the Bendigo and Shepparton Cups.
For Zambora Brockie, he is also looking for some redemption after he was an unplaced favourite in the rich Melbourne Cup at his latest start.
“He unfortunately didn’t fire up in the big one last week, but I am glad he now gets to race on his home track,” Azzopardi told the GRV website.
“I just love Ballarat. I love the circumference of the track and the people there are always friendly.”
Zambora Brockie heads into the fourth of eight heat of the Ballarat Cup as a short-priced favourite with a 100 percent strike rate in Ballarat – two wins from two starts over the Cup distance of 450m.
“Although he has had just the two starts at Ballarat, Zambora Brockie trials regularly on track so he is very familiar with it,” Azzopardi said.
Aston Bolero has drawn the sixth $7250 heat.
He finished fourth in a Melbourne Cup heat and then saluted at Sale in his last start.
The winner of each heat will progress to the Ballarat Cup final, with the two fastest seconds making up the emergencies.
Geelong Cup winner Shima Song is another leading contender in heat three.
Meanwhile, Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Jason MacKay from New South Wales takes a shot at a second Victorian group race in Ballarat.
While he has sent his Melbourne Cup winner Ando's Macin home to freshen up, Mackay travels to Ballarat with youngster Kong.
Kong has won five of seven career starts and this will be only his second start in Victoria, with him having fallen at Shepparton two starts ago.
Ballarat Greyhound Racing Club has programmed 12 races for the opening night of its Cup carnival, which has been moved from its traditional Wednesday night timeslot.
The first Cup heat is the third event at 7.52pm.