New Zealand visitor Im Pats Delight looks the horse to beat in tomorrow night’s Group Two Neatline Homes $60000 Shepparton Gold Cup.
But it’s a race where most of the runners in the seven-horse field look to have genuine winning claims.
The Cran Dalgety-trained Im Pats Delight steps out for the first time since his fifth placing in the Inter Dominion final at Melton on December 15.
He should be fresh enough for the testing 2690m cup journey and will have the services of premier reinsman Gavin Lang, who also drove him in the Inter series.
Coming from barrier four he will also have an advantage over two of his main rivals, the local hope San Carlo, who comes from barrier six, and Our Uncle Sam, who has the outside front row draw.
Tactics in the race will be vital, particularly with the small field.
Apart from Im Pats Delight sound arguments for winning the race with their share of luck in running can be put forward for San Carlo, Our Uncle Sam, Let It Ride and Our Triple Play.
After his gallant second in the Inter Dominion final to Tiger Tara last month, Our Uncle Sam suffered defeat in his next start at Bathurst on Boxing Day, finishing third behind Our Triple Play in the Shirley Turnbull Memorial over the gruelling 2790m trip.
On that effort Our Triple Play also has to come into calculations.
San Carlo looks to be in the race up to his ears and the Steve O’Donoghue-trained and Bec Bartley-driven eight-year-old will be the sentimental favourite on his home track.
The Tim Butt-trained Let It Ride, who ran San Carlo to a half-head in last Saturday night’s Bendigo Cup after a soft run, has the best barrier draw three — of the main hopes and should get a good run from his draw.
The other Shepparton-trained pacer in the race, the Laura Crossland-trained Share The Road, will be one of the outsiders due to his inexperience at this level.
But he put in an eye-catching run in the Cobram Cup last Sunday to finish fourth after breaking early in the race.
Even Flaming Flutter, who is in the twilight of his career, can run a bold race from his poleline barrier draw.
He finished second in an Inter Dominion final at Menangle, but that was in 2015.
●The other feature on tomorrow night’s card, The George Gath, has attracted some top class trotters headed by Inter Dominion runner-up, the Shepparton-owned, Michael Stanley-trained and Ryan Duffy-driven Sky Petite.
If she repeats her super Inter final runner-up performance she will be hard to beat
But there are some classy trotters, including Kyvalley Blur, Red Hot Tooth, Big Jack Hammer and Monty Python, who were all Inter Dominion finalists, in the field to make it one of the most anticipated races on the 10-event card.
Gates open: 4.30pm.
Admission: Adults $15. Kids under 16 free.
First race: 6.28pm.
Last race: 11.07pm.