Tonight's PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup appearance might be Bettor Be The Bomb's first crack at a Group 1 contest, but his closest friend has long treated him like an elite level performer.
Allendale horseman Basil Dooley gets much of the praise as current trainer of the in-form seven-year-old, however his partner, Paula Martin, has also had a long and close association.
Martin previously drove the son of Bettors Delight while working for his former trainer Lance Justice and then purchased him from connections to race under her name.
At that point, Bettor Be The Bomb’s 26 runs had produced just three wins, but that strike rate has grown under Martin – and now Dooley – to 15 victories from 92 races.
Dooley said Martin "rolled the dice" and bought the horse despite some underlying tendon issues and she'd been rewarded with a quality fast-class performer.
"Paula does all the looking after him, the finer things of spoiling him rotten, and I just do the basic stuff of going out and training him and working him," Dooley said.
"She's waiting in the stables when he gets back to give him his shower and pamper him.
"Once upon a time I would have frowned about brushing horses after they worked and towel drying them, but for some reason I've seen something a little bit different. It keeps them happy and they enjoy it."
Dooley and Martin now live and work together at a property just near Creswick and have one of six locally-trained horses looking to bowl over the Lochinvar Art juggernaut in tonight's feature.
While it has taken close to 100 starts to reach his first Group 1, Dooley said it was no surprise to him the horse was about to mix it with the best.
"Twelve months ago I raced him in the Bendigo Cup and he pulled extremely hard,” he said. “I said to Paula that if he could settle he's a chance at that Group 2 level. Over the last 12 months he's developed.
"We top-dressed our track about four or five months ago with some good sand and I think he's just enjoyed it, working in the soft sand."
Bettor Be The Bomb's current preparation has surely been his best. Since kicking it off in late October with some average efforts at Melton, the son of 10-time winning mare Atom Bomb Belle has gone into beast mode.
He won an open class race in mid-November, ran two close seconds in the TAB Blacks A Fake and DNR Logistics Gammalite before winning two $24,000 events.
And while he only finished sixth, his last-start effort behind Wolf Stride in the Bendigo Cup when rocketing to the line shows he’s primed for tonight’s test.
Bettor Be The Bomb has drawn barrier three and will go around a long-odds chance behind the rock-solid favourite Lochinvar Art.
"No doubt he's the best horse I've had. Certainly," Dooley said of the first Group 1 runner of his 25-year training career. "I'd be rapt with a top five.”
Young driver Jack Laugher will take the reins this evening with the $110,000 Ballarat Pacing Cup to go at 9.32pm.
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