Ballarat is yet again in the sights of a New Zealand invasion.
The Kiwis make a habit these days of striking in a big way at Bray Raceway.
They have won six of the past eight group 1 Ballarat Pacing Cups, and an array of support events on Cup Nights.
This time the New Zealanders are swooping on Ballarat in the Inter Dominion Championships second round heats on Tuesday night.
Only a small select band of pacers and trotters have crossed the Tasman Sea for the series, but they have wasted no time making an impact.
The All-Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen took out two of the three pacing heats with Spankem and former Australian-based Cruz Bromac at Melton on Saturday night, and trotter Speeding Spur struck for the Dickie stable.
Spankem is already well acquainted with Bray Raceway.
He won a Victoria Derby heat on the circuit in January this year before going on to finish fourth in the final at Melton.
As impressive as Spankem was in going 1:54.3 over 2240m, the Ballarat heats will take on a new complexion over the sprint distance of 1710m in both pacing and trotting divisions.
Spankem will come off the second row in a heat also featuring Aussie guns San Carlo and Tiger Tara.
Speeding Spur will be tested by the Andy Gath-trained and NZ-bred Tornado Valley, which looms as Australia’s best hope in the trotting series after dashing away with a heat win.
Speeding Spur has the advantage of having drawn two horses inside Tornado Valley, which will start from outside the front row.
THE 1710m track records might be under threat.
Beach Surge set the exisiting pacing record of 1:51.8 on Boxing Day last year.
No trotter has gone quicker on the 1000m circuit than Majestic Grace’s 1:57.3 in December, 2014.
A SPRINT will be in use for the second and last time at Bray Raceway on Tuesday night.
The sprint lane has been installed especially for the Inter Dominion.
Harness Racing Victoria made it a condition of running the heats in Ballarat to ensure all three venues for the series had the feature.
It was used on Friday night for the first time.
MEANWHILE, a new mural by Ballarat’s internationally acclaimed street artist Travis Price will be on show at Bray Raceway for the first time on Tuesday night.
The mural, situated underneath the grandstand, is part of a community art activation program run by Ballarat and District Trotting Club in conjunction with Price to coincide with the Inter Dominion Championship.
It has involved primary schools, with a colouring-in project having been on display at Delacombe Town Centre.