El Grand Senor adds a huge sense of occasion to tonight’s Ballarat Cup heats as he attempts to make it nine wins in a row and annex his fourth group race title from just five attempts. Interestingly, while El Grand Senor has been untroubled to collect his three Group 1 wins, his failure was at Group 2 level in the 2010 Traralgon Cup heats, where he could only manage fifth and missed a berth in the final.
Having now broken in to the top ten prizemoney earners of all time, the son of Where’s Pedro will be eying off the $30,000 first prizemoney a Ballarat Cup win on the way to challenging Rapid Journey’s career prizemoney record of $530,995.
The black dog, who has now won 23 of his 29 career starts; will start for just the third time from box 8 at his 30th start, having been blessed with 11 box 1 draws in his career to date. Notably though he has started just the once here at Ballarat for a 6 length win from box 5 in 25.10, leading all the way.
In a scratching depleted race his only challenge to making next weeks Group 2 final looks to be recent Group 3 WA Young Stars Classic winner Kilty Lad. The Brett and Kellie Bravo trained greyhound is undefeated from box 1 and looks to be now racing in better form than when he managed back to back Ballarat wins in September, running 25.20 to win the 5th grade final.
Since that run he made the final of the 2010 Group 3 SA Derby, finishing last from box 4 and then has won his last 5 starts in a row winning 5th grade heat and final at The Meadows running 29.82 before winning the WA final in 30.25.
Comparing the best times at The Meadows of both El Grand Senor and Kilty Lad at 29.83 and 29.82 respectively, its impossible to conclude that El Grand Senor is by any measure past the post and Kilty Lad, aided by the inside draw is destined to make a real race of Heat 3 of tonights Ballarat Cup.
This heat is definitely the highlight of the program but is by no means the only heat that could provide this years winner. In Heat 5 of the Ballarat Cup, 2010 Group 3 Sandown Shootout winner Cosmic Chief faces the unenviable task of overcoming box 5 and a mix of talented and proven group race performers, imports, and talented up and comers.
The Darren Brown trained greyhound, who won the 2010 Group 2 Warrnambool Classic, missed a start in El Grand Senor’s Group 1 Melbourne Cup when narrowly defeated in his heat of the Melbourne Cup behind Dyna Obelia. The greyhound however lost no admirers in that run, putting in a herculean performance to get with 1.5 lengths of the winner after overcoming interference.
The white and black son of Brett Lee, will not have an easy task of it facing fellow Paws Of Thunder finalist Enry Walt, who has the aid of box 1; Darren McDonald’s Irish export greyhound King Style; Lethal Power, who has won his last 5 in a row; and handily boxed and improving typed Lektra Sharp from box 8.
In other heats the Ray Bartolo trained Leprechaun Chloe looks well boxed to win the first heat, but takes on handy youngster Proficient trained by Darren McDonald and the under rated Young Gazza, who has to overcome box 4. Ballarat Cup Heat 2 looks a good race between the very speedy and consistent Kynan’s Express, who is remarkably having his first test at group racing level despite having won 18 of 37 starts; and Melbourne Cup finalist Dyna Obelia; with Sandown Shootout runner up Push The Paint boxed inside the pair.
The scratching of Messi from Heat 4 gives the Gary Ennis trained youngster Flash Drive a very good chance from box 1. The veteran of just 11 starts, the son of Vee Man Vane already has 4 best of night(BON) performances to his name from just the the 6 wins. In the same race strong greyhounds Gripen Bale and Premier Moment will be hoping for luck early and a clear shot at the leader late in the race.
The 2008 Group 2 Geelong Cup winner and 2009 Geelong Cup finalist, Birthday Boy makes a comeback to racing after an ill fated attempt at a stud career. Virtually ignored by breeders, the Steve Elsum trained greyhound is reported to be trialling as good as ever and he will attempt to make his first Ballarat Cup final after failing to secure a berth in both his 2008 and 2009 Ballarat Cup heats.
Giving him stiff opposition will be the well boxed Allen Chang, who is a recent 29.79 Sandown winner; unheralded Mystic Apple, who has won 4 of 6 starts here including a flying 25.14 effort; and the second of the well boxed Bartolo runners Leprechaun Daisy, who is better than recent form would suggest.
The final heat see’s Darren Brown’s other 2010 Group 1 Paws Of Thunder finalist, Cosmic Plant, take on last start 29.79 Sandown winner Smoke Home for Lauren Gorman; and Gardam Prince for Darren McDonald, who is unbeaten at Ballarat from 6 starts.