Despite having the hefty 60kg top weight to lump around his local track at Ballarat Racecourse on Saturday the Dan O’Sullivan-trained Tuscan Fire is in top form and ready to go in the 2014 Ballarat Cup.
Running as Race 8 at 4:40pm (AEDT), this year’s $200,000 Listed Ballarat Cup (2200m) features a capacity final field of 18 starters.
While the Peter Gelagotis-trained Hvasstan suffered a blow with the ‘visitor’s gate’ in the outside alley, Tuscan Fire had all the luck coming up trumps with barrier one.
Kerrin McEvoy will ride the veteran eight-year-old Tuscanos gelding replacing Steven Arnold aboard the horse for his two most recent runs.
The first of those was a failed 15th when unable to beat home any of his rivals in the Listed Seymour Cup (1600m) from a wide alley on October 19.
Up in distance next time out on Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Tuscan Fire was back in form when fourth, crossing under a length off the winner Atacama in the Listed Cup Day Plate (1800m).
That day he had 57kg on his back, three kilos less than the 60kg he’s been allocated for the Ballarat Cup as the equal top-weight with the Peter Moody-trained Fat Al (barrier nine).
“He showed last time that he’s still got what it takes, and it also showed me we’re on the right path with him,” O’Sullivan told Racing Network on Friday.
“This has been his aim all campaign – it’s a big day here at Ballarat and it means a lot, so this race was always going to be his Grand Final.”
Ballarat Cup betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au are led by the nicely-drawn, well-weighted Robert Smerdon-trained mare Spinderbella in barrier three for Chad Schofield on 54kg.
She pays $5.50 to win and is followed closely in the Ballarat Cup odds by Tuscan Fire at $6.50.
The other single figure hopes to win this year’s Ballarat Cup are then Chris Waller’s Commands four-year-old Vilanova ($8) in barrier two and the Darren Weir-trained Ararat Cup runner-up At First Sight ($9).
Despite getting on in the years, O’Sullivan remains confident Tuscan Fire will continue to add to his record of 11 wins for $637,048 in prizemoney starting with the Ballarat Cup where he ticks plenty of boxes.
“He’s got a few things in his favour tomorrow, good gate, great rider and he’ll stay the trip, so there’s a lot to like about him in this race,” he said.
If all goes to plan O’Sullivan suggested the $150,000 Listed Bagot Handicap (2800m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day would make a nice next-up option for his stable ace.
To check out the full Ballarat Cup betting odds and promotions head to Ladbrokes.com.au who are offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on your winnings for the race this year!