All eyes will be on star Kiwi harness racing trotter Bolt For Brilliance (Muscle Hill) on Inter Dominion night at Ballarat on Saturday (Nov. 26).
The barrier gods were kind with gate two over the 2200m, but he’s got top-class local and probably leader Majestuoso draw right inside him.
Trainer-driver Tony Herlihy’s anxious times with Bolt For Brilliance his Addington flop and illness have been well documented, so it’s as much about running well and getting through night one in good order as it is winning.
This Inter Dominion needs Bolt For Brilliance and kicking it off with a big showing would be fantastic.
That second heat also sees the return to racing of brilliant mare Pink Galahs. She’s had her own battles and hopefully she hits the line well from gate 10.
The first trotting heat should be a ripper clash between series big guns Just Believe (gate six) and Queen Elida (nine).
In contrast to last week when Just Believe was stuck in traffic and mightily unlucky, driver Greg Sugars should be able to lead or control the race from outside the leader this time.
But Queen Elida is outstanding and fast. If she’s within striking distance, her closing speed will be dangerous.
The third heat is the weakest and most open, giving Jess Tubbs’ big and raw former Kiwi trotter One Over All his chance to be a key player from gate three.
The thing that most grabs you about the first round of pacing heats if now many of the big guns have drawn the back row.
Let’s start with heat one where the gifted but enigmatic Expensive Ego has barrier 10. Last week’s brilliant Breeders Crown FFA winner Mach Dan looks the leader and one to beat from gate two, with stablemate Act Now another major factor from barrier seven.
Remarkably, in heat two you’ve got Majestic Cruiser (gate eight, inside back row), Spirit Of St Louis (12) and Honolua Bay (10) all off the back row. It’s a very tricky heat.
In heat three, so much will depend on whether Better Eclipse can hold the front from the pole with blazing beginners Boncel Benjamin (six) and Max Delight (seven) probably rushing across at the start.
It’s another tricky heat where last-start I Cast No Shadow is another big gun drawn the back row (gate 11).
Inter Dominions aren’t won on opening night, but history tells us they are often re-shaped.
This opening night certainly has the potential for that, especially around big guns like Bolt For Brilliance and Expensive Ego.
The series then moves to Shepparton for sprint heats next Tuesday and Geelong Saturday week for the staying heats before the Grand Finals at Melton on December 10.
For complete race entries, click here.