Paula Martin always had faith that pacer Bettor Be The Bomb would one day rub shoulders with the top shelf on the track.
It was this belief that persuaded her to purchase the son of Bettors Delight almost three years ago.
Martin was working for leading trainer Lance Justice at the time after relocating from South Australia and had developed a liking for Bettor Be The Bomb at the Melton stable.
That was strengthened when she won on him in Ballarat, her first win in the sulky after a long absence from race driving.
Bettor Be The Bomb has delivered in spades for Martin and partner, Allendale-based trainer Basil Dooley - so much so that he has reached the level which sees him lining up in the group 1 $110,000 PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup on Saturday night.
The seven-year-old has raced his way into career-best form, winning in free-for-all company while picking three victories at Melton in his last six starts.
His last start was a luckless sixth in the Bendigo Pacing Cup, when he charged home late behind Wolf Stride, which is considered the main danger to odds-on favourite Lochinvar Art on Saturday night.
As smart as he is as an equine athletie, Martin says Bettor Be The Bomb's attitude is also a major key to what he is now producing on the track.
She said when it came to racing, he was always switched on.
"He knows when we're at the track. He knows what he's there for and he wants to do it. He drags me to the stalls.
"You know he means business. He puffs his chest out to show everyone he's arrived. He thinks he's something special.
"He's a real character," Martin said.
And it is this charracter that means he is treated special at home.
"Yes, he's a pet.. He loves his carrots."
Bettor Be The Bomb has needed some extra care too along the way.
Martin said Bettor Be The Bomb had a club foot and had had tendon issues.
She said Dooley had done an exceptional job looking after the stable star's feet.
Martin and Dooley are keeping their fingers crossed that Bettor Be The Bomb can produce something special in the Ballarat Pacing Cup - perhaps enough to put him in contention for a run in the group 1 $500,000 AG Hunter Cup later in Harness Racing Victoria's Summer of Glory Carnival.
Ballarat is first night of the carnival.
Martin said while luck was always involved in some way, reinsman Jack Laugher's ability to get Bettor Be The Bomb to go to "sleep" in his races had been important.
FOR the first time since 2014-15, a NZ-trained visitor will not win the Ballarat Pacing Cup.
Kiwis have dominated the race for the past decade, with Stunin Cullen winning in 2011, Highview Tommy in 2012, Mah Sish 2013 and then Smolda in 2016 and 2017, Heaven Rocks in 2018, Thefixer 2019 and AG White Socks last year.
This season though no New Zealanders have made the trip. However, there could still be a Kiwi flavour to the victory.
Now Victorian-based former NZ trainer-driver Anthony Butt has second favourite Wolf Stride. Butt has won the cup three times as a driver.
LOCHINVAR Art is aiming at being the first since Sting Lika Bee in 2007 to win the Sheparton-Ballarat cupsa double. Mister Swinger has won each race since, but did it in different years - Ballarat in 2009 and Shepparton in 2011.
MYRNIONG reinsman Greg Sugaris chasing back-to-back wins in the cup.
He won on AG White Socks last year and has the drive on Fourbigmen one of three starters for Ballarat's Emma Stewart. She also has Always Fast and Somewhere Secret engaged. Her partner Clayton Tonkin has Out To Play.