MICHAEL Barby’s Daylesford harness racing stable is coming off more than a handy week.
It Is Billy ($2.80 favourite) remained unbeaten in a three-year-old pace, 2150m, at Bendigo on Thursday and then promising squaregaiting mare Miss Southern Land ($2.30 favourite) saluted off 20m in a T1/better, 2575m, at Cranbourne on Saturday night.
It Is Billy has impressed in his only two visits to the races.
The son of brilliant pacer It Is I is set to have his next run at Shepparton on Saturday night.
Miss Southern Land is showing every sign that she will race through the classes.
Out of free-for-all trotting mare Miss Universe, it took the now four-year-old mare a while to find her feet, but she has won six of her latest eight starts
The challenge for Barby and Anne-Maree Conroy is can they keep the run going in Ballarat tonight.
They have Remember Jasper engaged in the Brett Knight C3-C4 Pace, 2200m, and Willwillwinsum in the Ballarat Regional Tennis Centre C2 Pace, 2200m.
Willwillwinsum appears the best chance of the duo.
This is an easy assignment, but from the pole and with two minor placings in his past three starts the gelding is not completely out of the picture.
The five-year-old has only raced once at Bray Raceway, for a win in July last year.
Former New Zealander Bold Statement and group 1-placed Sheez The Barmaid look the hardest to beat.
Bold Statement won his first two starts in Australia before getting caught wide last start and missing a place.
Sheez The Barmaid failed to flatter in her latest start at Cranbourne on Saturday night, but if she can rediscover her best for Dunnstown trainer-driver David Murphy her class could prevail.
• BALLARAT district stables produce some well-connected first starters tonight:
ROCKN RUBY (race 1): Righteous Hanover-Jazzbo, 2yo filly, trained by Adrian Darcy (Ballan). Jazzbo is an unraced half-sister to Newsbreaker (30 wins, $340,000), which won the 1994 Australian Derby for Graeme Morgan.
ITSTOLATETOSTOPNOW (race 1): Pass The Mustard-A Bad Bad Thing, 2yo filly, trained by Craig Knowles (Delacombe). First foal of a half-sister to Three Card Brag (9 wins).
VAPAR BLISS (race 3): Blissfull Hall-But Ler Raine, 4yo mare, trained by Ashleigh Herbertson (Delacombe). But Ler Raine won eight races and was placed 25 times, and has gone on to produce five winners, including Jay Vee Rowan (9 wins), Rowan lass (7 wins) and Vapar Raine (6 wins).
• ASHIRA Bromac chases a hat-trick of wins for Melton trainer Adam Kelly in the Rob Benoit Tennis C1 Pace, 1710m.
The four-year-old mare was part of a double for Kelly in Ballarat a week ago.
She has had the three starts for Kelly since arriving from NZ for a second and two wins.
TRAINERS - BALLARAT
Emma Stewart 18-8-5
Adam Kelly 8-3-2
Glenn Douglas 7-5-6
Peter Tonkin 6-13-7
Alan Tubbs 6-6-5
Geoff Webster 6-5-7
Peter Manning 6-2-3
Bob Conroy 5-7-5
Kerryn Manning 5-3-4
Glenn Douglas 102-99-109
Kerryn Manning 73-33-25
Emma Stewart 64-28-16
Adam Kelly 60-28-19
Dean Braun 57-26-18
Shayne Cramp 51-28-29
Lance Justice 46-57-34
David Aiken 46-42-48
Lisa Miles 41-40-31
Chris Lang 40-27-25
Chris Alford 30-17-24
Greg Sugars 14-8-15
Gavin Lang 14-11-5
Kerryn Manning 9-9-7
Glen Craven 8-5-5
Amy Tubbs 5-7-6
Michael Bellman 4-5-7
Glenn Conroy 4-7-2
Nathan Jack 5-2-6
Chris Alford 212-124-153
Daryl Douglas 205-235-216
Greg Sugars 155-113-104
Gavin Lang 125-88-76
Nathan Jack 112-85-78
Kerryn Manning 111-70-62
Jodi Quinlan 78-63-50
John Caldow 54-51-57
Ellen Tormey 52-67-48
Brian Gath 51-54-62