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Apprentice Ben Allen is confident the distance, a firm track, light weight and good gate speed will all work in favour of his mount in Saturday’s 2017 Ballarat Cup field Mr Garcia.
Formerly prepared by German-based Melbourne Cup winning trainer Andreas Wohler, the Australian Bloodstock-raced Mr Garcia has his first start for ace Victorian horseman Darren Weir in the Listed $300,000 Ballarat Cup (2200m).
Allen jumps aboard the in-form Paco Boy five-year-old who won his Australian race debut when still with Wohler at Flemington on VRC Oaks Day.
The European import was a three-quarter length winner carrying 58kg to victory in the $120,000 Twitter Trophy (1800m) on November 9 with Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle.
Young 18-year-old Allen is thrilled to have picked up the mount for the horse’s second-up run down under and believes the step-up to 2200m and drop down to 54kg both work in Mr Garcia’s favour.
“He goes into it in good form, the 22 [hundred metres] should be in our favour, and we should be able to land in a nice spot behind some of the chances,” Allen told Racing Victoria.
“I am quite confident, especially coming in with 54kg.”
Allen has enjoyed four stakes wins during 2017, including February’s Group 3 Launceston Cup in Tasmania aboard the Weir-trained Big Duke, and has confidence of adding another black-type winning ride to his record on the weekend, especially with the likely firm Ballarat track.
“I watched it [the Flemington win] live. It was quite a good win,” Allen said.
“The track was very firm on the day, and I’d say it’d be quite firm on Ballarat Cup Day as it was last year.
“So I know it’s a tick he handles the firm track. I’m not sure if he likes a bit of cut out of it which would make him a better horse.”
The Ballarat Cup favourite is drawn barrier nine and Allen plans to settle the horse just off the pace, capitalising on Mr Garcia’s good gate speed early on.
“Obviously the horse has good gate speed, so we’ll use that, hopefully slide across without doing any work into a spot, be one-back, two-back [or] three-back,” he sa9id.
“I’d say they [connections] wouldn’t want him too close, just stepping up [in trip], and hopefully we can get onto the back of something cruising into it, and save him up for a good 300m sprint.”
There are three other single-figure hopes in Ballarat Cup betting on the 13-starter field this spring including the Chris Waller-trained 58kg top weight Antonio Giuseppe ($5.50) chasing his first win since February.
Allen though rates the main danger as the Michael Kent-trained Oncidium Ruler, ridden by fellow apprentice Beau Mertens, the $11 shot drawn in gate two and coming off a lead-up win at Flemington over 2000m on Emirates Stakes Day.
“It’s not the overly strongest race, the only other horse coming into it in good form is Oncidium Ruler,” Allen pointed out.
“Whether it comes into that race and keeps its form, we’ll have to find out, but it’s a very good chance.”
Check out the full Ballarat Cup 2017 betting markets online now through Ladbrokes.com.au.
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