Caulfield’s Robert Smerdon hopes the Ballarat Cup 2014 bookies have it right after they surprisingly installed his in-form mare Spinderbella at the top of the odds for Saturday’s showdown.
The last black-type of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, the $200,000 Listed Ballarat Cup (2200m) on the weekend features a full field of 18 starters plus one emergency.
Sitting top of the Ballarat Cup betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au for the handicap clash at $5.50 is Smerdon’s five-year-old daughter of Spinning World Spinderbella.
While the mare has won two of her past three starts, he was still surprised to see the bookmakers have so much faith in her ability to win her first race in a month.
“I must say I was surprised to see her go up favourite in the early betting, she’s $6 but I was surprised to see her as high up in the market,” Smerdon told Racenet.
“I hope the people that set those prices are accurate in their assessment.”
Super consistent in her racing so far, Spinderbella has won five of her nine starts.
She’s also undefeated from two previous runs at Ballarat and has a win over the track and distance from November last year when thriving on a Heavy (9) track to win by four lengths with Glen Boss in the saddle.
Her latest start this time in was at Moonee Valley under the lights on Manikato Stakes Night, October 24, where she and Boss combined again to win the $100,000 LF Sign Group Handicap (2040m).
The Moonee Valley clash was against a field full of fellow fillies and mares, the step up to an open-company handicap on Saturday an obvious class rise.
For her latest win Spinderbella, who is yet to race in Black Type company, carried 55kg.
For the Ballarat Cup she gets in on the 54kg minimum with Chad Schofield replacing Boss in the saddle and should get a gun run with that weight from her nice gate according to Smerdon.
“There’s a bit to like about the run we expect her to get and horses down in the weights have got a good record in that race,” he said.
“We have got no weight and the draw to give her a good run for a long way.”
She was to have had an earlier lead-up run in the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day, November 8, but Flemington shelved those plans due to a too-firm track.
“We thought about the Ballarat Cup for her about six weeks ago and we decided it could end up in a good scenario,” Smerdon said.
“The Matriarch (Stakes) was to lead her into the race but the ground was too hard at Flemington so we missed that run, which is not ideal, but she’s a natural stayer and a light-framed sort of mare.”
Spinderbella’s main dangers in the Ballarat Cup betting markets are the rails-drawn Tuscan Fire ($6.50) carrying the equal 60kg top weight and coming off a fourth over 1800m on Melbourne Cup Day, the Chris Waller-trained Commands four-year-old Vilanova ($8) in barrier two and Darren Weir’s last start Ararat Cup runner-up At First Sight ($9) out wide in 16.
Smerdon is after his first Ballarat Cup win since 1996 when McGuane took it out and is dually represented this year with Spinderbella joined by stable mate Electric Fusion.
A $12 market mover in from $14 to win, Fastnet Rock gelding Electric Fusion didn’t have as much luck drawing wide in barrier 17 but can improve on his poor recent form according to the makers.
“We have been schooling him a bit this week, hoping it might fire him up a bit,” Smerdon said with Electric Fusion having finished out of the money in all six of his runs this time in.
To check out the full Ballarat Cup betting odds and get behind your early picks for the major Melbourne race this Saturday head over to Ladbrokes.com.au and enjoy up to $100 in bonus bets!