LENNYTHESHARK has been installed as favourite to withstand a New Zealand invasion in Saturday night’s $120,000 PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup.
This is despite a second row draw in the group 1 event.
NZ champion Smolda from the all-conquering stable of Mark Purdon heads one of the strongest groups of Kiwis to tackle the Cup, with all three of the raiders landing front row barriers in the capacity field 12, plus an emergency.
Smolda, which will start from barrier five, is joined by Mossdale Conner and Franco Nelson, which finished in that order in second, third and fourth in the NZ Trotting Cup in November.
Lennytheshark, which has not raced since winning the Inter-Dominion championship final in Perth last month, is the $2.40 favourite with TAB.com.au – marginally ahead of Smolda ($2.60).
There is plenty of confidence in the camp of Avenel trainer David Aiken too after an impressive trial by Lennytheshark.
NSW visitor Bling It On will find his task much tough after drawing barrier 12 and is consequently at the generous odds of $14.
The cup field, which was finalised on Tuesday, also features reigning Ballarat Pacing Cup winner Im Corzin Terror, the emerging Major Crocker and two Ballarat district-trained hopes – Metro Mike and It Is Billy.
Metro Mike gives Emma Stewart her chance at a third Cup win, while It Is Billy will be Daylesford trainer Mick Barby’s first starter in the race.
Each facing the biggest assignments of their careers, they have been installed as $41 chances.
Champion reinsman Chris Alford, who has the drive on Lennytheshark, is chasing back-to-back Ballarat Pacing Cups.
He won on Im Corzin Terror, which this time will be driven by Greg Sugars, when the race was last run in December, 2014.
The race will also provide legendary NZ driver Ricky May (Mossdale Conner) with a chance for redemption after being beaten on the short-priced favourite Terror To Love on that occasion.
Ballarat and District Trotting Club has programmed a 10-race card for Saturday, with the first at 6.33pm and featuring three Victoria Derby heats and two Australasian Trotting Championship heats as it continues it “Summer Festival” of racing.
PACING CUP LINE-UP
1-293 METRO MIKE J Lee
2-662 HOTASEL J Justice
3-610 MAJOR CROCKER N Jack
4-224 MOSSDALE CONNER R May
5-693 SMOLDA M Purdon
6-767 CLASSY WESTERN (emerg) A McDonough
7-703 FRANCO NELSON A Butt
8-341 IM CORZIN TERROR G Sugars
9-121 LENNYTHESHARK C Alford
10-618 IT IS BILLY AM Conroy
11-422 FIVE STAR ANVIL Z Phillips
12-111 BLING IT ON L McCarthy
13-510 COLD MAJOR J Aiken
Cup market (TAB.com.au fixed odds): 2.40 Lennytheshark, 2.60 Smolda, 9 Major Crocker, 11 Mossdale Conner, 14 Bling It On, 17 Franco Nelson, 21 Im Corzin Terror, 26 Hotasel, 41 It Is Billy, 41 Metro Mike, 61 Five Star Anvil, 101 Cold Major, 251 Classy Western (emerg)
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