Both chasers are trained by Geoff Collins and his partner Rosalyn Hume and have been rated quite differently by Bet365 to win next week’s final. Aussie Infrared is $15, while Barking Bad sits at $201 in early betting markets.
Despite the massive price difference between the pair, Collins says there is not much between the sons of American sire Bella Infrared and former NSW stayer Ebby Miss.
“There is hardly anything splitting the pair of them,” Collins told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“Up to 420m Aussie Infrared has probably got a bit on Barking Bad, but after that he takes over – he has got an enormous motor.”
Aussie Infrared will be the first to face the starter on Friday night, exiting box one in the third heat against a quality field including American Monster (box two) and Shima Song (box three).
“Obviously Shima Song is the danger. She is a fantastic bitch, she is probably the best bitch in the country, but feel my dog is in a really good position at the moment so hopefully he can begin and get a bit of a break on her – if he does that he will be hard to catch,” Collins said.
“I probably would have preferred the eight because he has shown a tendency to get off the track a little bit, but I don’t think its his natural racing style; I have got no idea why he started doing it because he wasn’t doing it early on.
“Out of the red I am hoping he goes straight because I have trialled him out of the red with half a field and he ran dead straight. I think he is starting to straighten up a bit more.
“I just get the feeling that he is learning to race now and that has been his biggest challenge all along – now he is maturing and starting to become a race dog.”
Aussie Infrared, a winner of 10 of his 20 starts, has not been seen since finishing sixth in the Group 2 Geelong Cup last month, with Collins deciding to give him a freshen up ahead of the Ballarat series.
“We gave him a week off following the Geelong Cup – he had a few niggling injuries – and then we started working him back and he is going enormous.
“We just like to keep him fresh because he is a real pace dog – if he can’t use his pace he is in trouble because he is not going to run these sorts of dogs down.”
Barking Bad will contest the sixth heat of the night where he will jump wearing the white stretch vest. He too comes up against a tough challenge, facing recent Group 1 Topgun runner-up, Aston Bolero (box five).
However, Collins says Barking Bad has a realistic chance of causing an upset.
“You know that he is not going to begin like his brother and he is going to have to work his way through the field, but he has got a tremendous amount of ability,” he said.
“The key to his race is going to be where he is positioned early.
“He really can’t afford to be giving dogs like Aston Bolero a big start – he is going to have to be tracking them – I would like to see him settle a couple of lengths behind the pace because he would be hard to hold out down the straight.
“On sheer ability not too many dogs could beat him two out, he is a fast animal.”
Barking Bad has only had three starts since making the move from his breeder Michael Eberand’s kennel in NSW, running two credible thirds at Sandown Park.
It is the second time the 35-kilogram powerhouse has been trained by Hume and Collins, having stayed in Victoria throughout the Horsham Cup series.
This time around, Collins said he is a different animal.
“The first time around he didn’t know what to make of the new environment. I trialled him a couple of times and he went terrible, he just seemed off.
“I think he is fitting in a bit better this time around, he is more mature and he is bouncing around and just a much happier dog in general.
“Hopefully that translates onto race day because he is a super fast dog, it staggers me how fast this dog actually is – he trialled 25.30 at Ballarat on a Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago.
“He will be going back home to Michael after another couple of runs – (Michael) was thinking about having a go at the Sale Cup (650m) but we will see what happens, we are flexible.”
When quizzed which dog he rates a better chance of making the final, Collins paused before declaring his verdict.
“Aussie Infrared is my pick because of the box draw, of course he has to use it, but the other bloke is also in with a chance, he just has to get the right breaks through the field.
“If either of them get any luck throughout the run then they are going to be right in it.”
Eight heats of the Group 2 Ballarat Cup will be run and won on Friday night, the first of which is set to jump at 7:52pm.
The favourite to take out the series in Zambora Brockie which will be aiming to bounce back from his last start defeat in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup at Sandown Park.
Group 2 Ballarat Cup – all-in market
Zambora Brockie $5
Aston Bolero $6
Shima Song $8
Promises Kept $10
Judicial Man $10
Zinzan Brooke $11
Barton Bale $11
Bear’s Gold $11
Myrniong Corner $11
Your Shout Punk $13
Pantera Nera $13
Aussie Infrared $15 with Bet365
Weekend Binge $16
Mystery Ride $21
Demon Bale $21
Sleek Master $21
American Monster $26
Matt Machine $26
Lorimer Lad $41
Absolute Silence $41
To The Galo’s $51
Jack Walker $51
Nangar Range $51
Marley Bale $51
Lightning Frank $67
Soda Man $101
Diego Bale $101
Expecto Patronum $101
Tiggerlong Cruz $101
Kilty Express $101
Lucky Tetris $151
Leo’s Gift $151
Black Mumbo $151
Zipping Arnold $151
Zipping Vito $201
Two Tone $201
Igor Karkaroff $201
Barking Bad $201
Vista King $251
Signal Peak $251
Fearless John $251
Champion Exhibit $251
Brilliant Shot $251
Night King $501
Dr. Melezar $501
Don’t Kid Me $501
Major Curly $501
Six Green Thumbs $501
Dr. Darkrai $501
Zipping Johnny $501
Crackerjack Choc $501
Rockin’ Rico $501
Connemara Black $501
Dr. Yanma $1001
Dr. Sherlock $1001
She’s Got Grace $2001