Clayton Tonkin is poised to take his return to harness racing training ranks straight to the top in the "Summer of Glory" Carnival.
He has taken over the training of pre-post Victoria Derby favourite Be Happy Mach, which won 10 times as a two-year-old in the care of Tonkin's partner Emma Stewart.
Tonkin has had just the one horse to races after a 15-year break as a trainer in his own right.
He has guided Ride High to two wins in as many starts.
Be Happy Mach steps out for Tonkin in the third of three $24,000 Victoria Derby heats at the Ballarat Pacing Cup meeting on Saturday night.
The son of Mach Three is first-up since taking out the Breeders Crown final in August and will start from outside the second row.
Tonkin will also Adapt in the first heat.
Stewart will again have a powerful hand in the Victoria Derby and Victoria Oaks heats on Ballarat and District Trotting Club's nine-race card.
She has three starters in the two Oaks heats for 3yo fillies, headed up by Maajida. She has won her past seven starts and is also first-up since saluting in a Breeders Crown 2yo final.
Stewart will be represented by two runners in each derby heat.
The heats lead into rich group 1 finals at Melton on Saturday, January 25, on the second night of Harness Racing Victoria's "Summer of Glory" Carnival.
Other Ballarat district stables with Derby and Oaks runners:
- Michael Stanley (Burrumbeet): Soho Gloria Jane (Oaks), Soho Hamilton, Yejele Hammer (Derby)
- Damian Burns (Snake Valley): Youarmy Sunshine (Derby)
- AJ and BJ Tindale (Berringa): Whats Stanley Got (Derby)
- Stephen Clarke (Ross Creek): Monsieur Delacour (Derby)
The two classics have also attracted youngsters from New South Wales, Queensland and New Zealand.
AUSTRALIA'S premier trotters will also be on track at Bray Raceway for the group 2 $30,000 EB Cochran Cup.
Tornado Valley headlines the line-up fresh from his victory in the group 1 Maori Mile in Bendigo.
He will be part of a star-studded second line, which will also feature the Anton Golino-trained Dance Craze and Stan Cameron's Savannah Jay Jay flying the hometown flag, and Wobelee for Alison Alford.
BALLARAT and District Trotting Club is hoping to raise at least $5000 for Wildlife Victoria's bushfire relief appeal on cup night.
All proceeds from gatetakings will go to the cause.