FREAKISH sprinter Zambora Brockie has been installed as the $2.25 favourite with Crownbet to win the 2016 Group 2 Ballarat Cup (450m) on Friday night.
The short price comes after the black dog recorded a scintillating 25.13 heat victory last week in his heat, a time which could have been faster if he didn’t find interference during the run.
After beginning brilliantly from box three, Zambora Brockie was outpaced in the run around the turn by Lorimer Lad (box eight) which cut down to the fence, checking Zambora Brockie in the process.
Despite the mid-race challenge, the son of Nitro Burst and Flying Liddy balanced up in the straight, producing a powerful finish down the centre of the track to score by 3.63 lengths over the fast-finishing Don’t Kid Me (box two).
Trained by Anthony Azzopardi, a victory in this week’s race would add another $77,000 to Zambora Brockie’s prize money tally which already stands at a whopping $436,133, while he would also claim an additional $50,000 bonus for winning three country cups in a year, having already won the 2016 Warrnambool and Horsham Cups.
Given the best chance to beat the favourite is Zinzan Brooke at $4.80 which has drawn box four in the decider following his 25.09 heat win for trainer Brooke Ennis. The 35-kilogram heavyweight led all the way from box four in his heat, recording his 11th career victory at just his 13th race start.
Ennis qualified two runners through to the final, with Judicial Man also winning his heat in impressive style. The blue fawn chaser was away smartly wearing the blue stretch vest, striding clear in the run to the line to triumph by 2.24 lengths in 25.24.
Despite being nearly quarter of a second off the fastest heat win, Judicial Man has been installed at $5.50 to win the lucrative final after coming up with the coveted rails alley.
Three years after running second in the Ballarat Cup with his former champ Paw Licking, leading Victorian conditioner Kel Greenough will get the chance to go one better in the 2016 final with his younger half-brother Weekend Binge.
The son of El Grand Senor and Kingsbrae Di exploded from box two in his qualifier and was never headed, stopping the clock in a sizzling 25.11 to notch his 18th career victory at start 31.
Amazingly, the two fastest heat winners from last week are both double figure chances after drawing poorly, with Black Mumbo and American Monster currently $17 and $10 respectively.
Black Mumbo, trained by Anthony Karabitsakos, was only fairly away from box eight in his qualifier, sitting fourth in the early stages before barging his way in between runners to set off in pursuit of the tearaway leader, Aston Bolero (box five).
Swinging for home, Black Mumbo slipped into another gear, railing along the fence to assume the lead in the run to the line, scoring by 0.20 lengths in a blistering 25.03.
American Monster was also emphatic in winning his heat from box two, striding into second spot early behind the classy Aussie Infrared (box one) before finishing too strongly in the home straight to register a 2.34 length win in 25.07.
It wouldn’t be a group final without the presence of Australia’s largest breeder and owner, with Paul Wheeler represented by the classy Diego Bale.
Trained by Andrea Dailly, the son of Taylors Sky and Zambola Bale was quickly away from box seven in his heat, rolling straight to the early lead which he was able to maintain throughout the entirety of the race, defeating Promises Kept (box eight) in a handy 25.33.
Diego Bale will exit box eight in the final and is rated a $17 chance of winning.
The classy field is rounded out by Tiggerlong Cruz for Avalon trainer Samantha Ferguson. The black bitch wasn’t the quickest to leave the traps but showed plenty of chase to find the front, striding to the winning post to score by 3.61 lengths in a fast 25.16.
Despite the quick time, the 12-time winner will start the outsider of the field, rated a $41 chance from box five.
The Group 2 Ballarat Cup will be run and won this Friday.
Group 2 Ballarat Cup – market
Box 1 – Judicial Man $5.50
Box 2 – Zambora Brockie $2.25
Box 3 – Zinzan Brooke $4.80
Box 4 – Black Mumbo $17 with Crownbet
Box 5 – Tiggerlong Cruz $41
Box 6 – American Monster $10
Box 7 – Weekend Binge $5
Box 8 – Diego Bale $17
1st Res – Aston Bolero $4.50
2nd Res – Mystery Ride $17