The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Chris Waller’s in-form mare Atishu is the runner to beat in the half-a-million-dollar Ballarat Cup 2022 field in Victoria on Saturday.
The last start Group 2 Matriarch Stakes winner on Stakes Day was a dual acceptor for the weekend.
Waller opted to withdraw her from the more lucrative $1 million The Gong (1600m) in Sydney in favour of a longer run for half the prize money, which suggests the stable expect a big run from the daughter of Savabeel.
It had been a while between drinks for the former Kiwi who won for the first time since September 2021 last time out.
The now five-year-old was excellent carrying 57kg to a two-length victory in the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) over the same distance on the last day of the Cup Carnival.
She has the same weight in Saturday’s handicap at Ballarat jumping from a favourable gate six draw with Damien Oliver coming aboard for the ride.
Having returned to winning form, Atishu is being kept very safe in Ballarat Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au.
The early market mover has been backed in from $6 to Ballarat Cup odds of $3.60 and looks the one to beat.
The danger occupying the second line of betting at a close $4.40 is the rails-drawn Bankers Choice for Michael Moroney.
John Allen partners the Mongolian Khan five-year-old who is after his first win over further than 1600m.
Two back he was good in the wet when second to My Oberon in the Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) with 59kg at The Valley.
He was up against a cracking field on November 5 as a 60/1 outsider in the Group 1 Champions Stakes (2000m) and was far from disgraced on Good (3) Flemington track when sixth, under four lengths beaten, behind dual champ Zaaki.
It’s shaping up as a Soft Ballarat track for the Cup, which brings Bankers Choice right back into contention with conditions to suit.
The only other runner under double-figures for the win at $9 is fellow wet track performer Polly Grey.
Stablemate to the favourite, the smart Azamour eight-year-old mare has her 45th career start on the weekend.
She is a genuine mudlark with outstanding Soft (16:5-4-1) and Heavy (13:6-3-1) track form who will appreciate a wetter course than the Good (4) in the Matriarch where she ran a midfield seventh to Atishu.
Even after scratching the French-bred Longvillers (14) from the event, Waller has a stranglehold over the Ballarat Cup field numbers-wise with Polly Grey and Atishu joined by Desert Icon.
Carrying the equal 58kg top-weight with his Polly Grey, September’s Group 3 JRA Cup winner Desert Icon has Brett Prebble aboard in gate three and pays $26 for the upset.
Jumping from the extreme outside alley is the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained Grandslam ($11) who shapes-up as a genuine place chance second-up.
Lord Vladivostok ($11), coming off a narrow third in the Cup Day Plate over 1800m on November 1, with 54kg is the other best in betting with Harry Coffey to ride from gate nine.
The Ballarat Cup 2022 is set to run as Race 8 at 4:20pm (AEDT) on Saturday’s bumper 10 race card.
2022 Ballarat Cup Final Field & Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Penalty||Hcp Rating|
|1||252×571137||DESERT ICON (FR)||Chris Waller||Brett Prebble||3||58kg||102|
|2||x202128x47||POLLY GREY (NZ)||Chris Waller||Ben Melham||13||58kg||106|
|3||3334×76751||ATISHU (NZ)||Chris Waller||Damien Oliver||6||57kg||104|
|4||1546×77026||BANKERS CHOICE (NZ)||Michael Moroney||John Allen||1||57kg||100|
|5||9x031558x3||GRANDSLAM||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Ethan Brown||15||55.5kg||97|
|6||221564×752||DARK DREAM||Ben & JD Hayes||Daniel Stackhouse||4||54.5kg||95|
|7||x1821x4440||FOXY FRIDA||Andrew Noblet||Patrick Moloney||7||54.5kg||99|
|8||3x212626x6||LONGVILLERS (FR)||Chris Waller||14||54.5kg||95|
|9||71208×0135||SIRILEO MISS||Symon Wilde||Blaike McDougall||10||54kg||98|
|10||x1201x7246||BERMADEZ (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Craig Newitt||8||54kg||93|
|11||73x53340x7||FUTURE SCORE (IRE)||Matt Cumani||Fred Kersley||5||54kg||92|
|12||x1229x5025||FLASH AAH||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||Jordan Childs||2||54kg||90|
|13||x238x95283||LORD VLADIVOSTOK (NZ)||Michael Hickmott||Harry Coffey||9||54kg||90|
|14||9x170x0923||TOKORANGI (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Daniel Moor||11||54kg||90|
|15||132613×481||FLASH FEELING (NZ)||John Sadler||Matthew Cartwright (a)||12||54kg||76|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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