O'Shea gives new Ballarat racing surface a try first up

Racing returns to Ballarat Turf Club on Sunday
Racing returns to Ballarat Turf Club on Sunday

JOHN O'Shea, the new face of the Darley racing empire, will have his first starter in Ballarat on Sunday.

The Sydney-based O'Shea, who has taken over from Peter Snowden as Darley's head trainer in Australia, saddles up Heirlooms in the City Of Ballarat Maiden, 1400 metres.

Having his first visit to the races since early December, Heirlooms has been placed just the once in five outings in a low-key start to his career.

His effort to date was on the "old" Sportsbet-Ballarat circuit.

Heirlooms lines up in the fourth event on the first race meeting on the upgraded track, which has new turf, upgraded drainage and no longer features a dip in the home straight.

Ballarat Turf Club has been swamped with acceptors for its first raceday since last year's Ballarat Cup in late November.

Four of the eight races have capacity fields featuring emergencies.

Former West Australian galloper Incentive Scheme is top weight in one of the main events, the $30,000 Country Showcase Porter Plant Handicap, 3000m.

Incentive Scheme arrived at the Cranbourne stable Todd Balfour early this year with a hattrick of wins at Bunbury, Ascot and Mt Barker with a jumping career in mind.

He has had three starts for Balfour, all over jumps, so will be his first trip on the flat in Victoria.

Incentive Scheme clashes with champion steeplechaser Bashboy and lightly raced Spaced from the Michael Moroney team.

Spaced has not won beyond 2000m, but has been city placed over 2400m and has a strong form line through Sydney.

In his latest start, the four-year-old finished within four lengths of La Amistad at Warwick Farm.

La Amistad backed up from there with another win in the listed $100,000 McKell Cup, 2400m, at Randwick.

The track is rated a dead5, with the first event scheduled for 12.13pm.