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Moe-based trainer Peter Gelagotis is disappointed about the wide barrier his galloper Hvasstan has to overcome in Saturday’s Ballarat Cup 2014 on Melbourne’s stand-along Ballarat Cup Day meeting.
The five-year-old Fastnet Rock stallion suffered a nasty blow when coming up with the outside gate for the $200,000 Listed Ballarat Cup (2200m), Hvasstan to jump from barrier 18 in the capacity field this weekend.
“It’s devastating when those things happen,” Gelagotis told Racing Network on Friday.
“You can probably tell in my voice that I’m a bit down about it, and I’m normally really upbeat and positive.”
Craig “Froggy” Newitt has the ride taking over for Hugh Bowman who rode the stayer to a distant fourth last time out on Emirates Stakes Day, November 8, at Flemington.
That day Hvasstan carried a hefty 60kg in the $100,000 SecondBite Plate (2000m) eventually crossing five lengths off the Phillip Stokes-trained winner Held Hostage.
In the Ballarat Cup Hvasstan drops back to 56kg with weights led by the Peter Moody-trained Fat Al and Dan O’Sullivan’s well-fancied Tuscan Fire on 60kg.
Fourth last time out on Melbourne Cup Day behind Atacama in the Listed Cup Day Plate (1800m) with 57kg, eight-year-old Tuscan Fire currently occupies the second line of Ballarat Cup betting paying $6.50 through Ladbrokes.com.au to handle the weight and win.
The Ballarat Cup odds are currently led by Robert Smerdon’s in-form mare Spinderbella ($5.50) who along with a good gate (3) also gets in on the 54kg minimum weight.
“The barrier and the weight should give her a good run for a long way, so that puts her right in it and her record beyond 1600 is really good,” Smerdon told RSN’s Racing Ahead.
“She’s only had one miss (over further than 1800m) and there were excuses that night at Cranbourne when things didn’t work out that well.
“Her performances beyond 1600 are really good and she won over this distance at this track 12 months ago, albeit in lower grade.
“She’s probably still emerging. I’m not quite sure of her full potential, but because she’s lightly-raced she gets into this race right down the bottom of the handicaps and that can help them.”
While Smerdon is confident with his top fancy, Gelagotis needs convincing Hvasstan can win from his wide alley.
“The horse is really good and he’s ready to go,” he said.
“I’m confident he’ll run well, we just need luck from the gate.”
He knows the horse is in good condition then and hopes Newitt can help him overcome the tough assignment.
“The horse is really good,” Gelagotis reiterated.
“I thought his last run at Flemington, against the bias and the pattern was fabulous, so the horse is on target, it’s just that it is a horror draw.
“I spoke with Froggy yesterday and he just laughed.
“He knows it’s a tough task, but I guess we’ll just go back to give him every chance and hope the speed is on.
“If they go a genuine speed and he can pick his way through the field he’ll be a chance.”
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