One of the most even lineups in many years is assembled for Victoria’s prestigious Tasco Petroleum Mildura Pacing Cup with qualifying heats to be contested tonight .

The $50,000 Group 3 harness racing feature is the only edition of the State’s country cup series to be run over the heat-and-final format, and tonight’s two heats are sure to be hotly contested as runners chase a spot in Saturday night’s (Apr 6) final.

Shepparton trainer Steven Duffy has primed his durable country cups campaigner Serg Blanco with Mildura in mind but meets a handy lineup in heat one, from a difficult barrier 11 draw.

“I was really happy with his first up fourth at Melton last weekend against Triple Eight, Catch a Wave and co,” Duffy said.

“We’ve had a bit of trouble with getting his blood just right this time, but it’s on the way back up now and his run showed us he is getting back to what we know he can do,” he said.

Serg Blanco last season put Yarra Valley and Swan Hill Cups beside his name, and finished runner up in the Bendigo Pacing Cup in January.  He was fifth in last year’s Mildura Cup.

The Riverina-trained Glenledi Elvis appears to be hitting the Mildura Cup in serious form after picking up the Albury and Wangaratta Cups and a Menagle placing in his past three starts.

He’s drawn barrier six in the heat, but driver Blake Jones isn’t concerned.

“He got an okay draw.  That was really our plan for going to Mildura because he has good gate speed, and we thought he would draw off the front,” Jones said.

“He picked up the Wangaratta Cup, which is a pretty tight track and Albury is tighter again, and he handled both of those no drama at all, so I think he’ll be right at home around Mildura.”

Enigmatic four-year-old Dangerous (Shane Sanderson) is another of the chances in heat one if he handles the Mildura circuit along with last-start Charlton Cup winner and Interdominion campaigner Helluva trained and driven by perennial Mildura Pacing Cup contender John Justice.

The second cup heat is no less competitive, with last year’s winner Sahara Tiger returning to attempt to become only the third pacer in 60 years to go back-to-back in the Mildura feature.

Sahara Tiger, now a 119 rater, is a specialist at the tight 800 metre Mildura circuit and was in fine form in January and February with three successive wins at the track before being freshened for his cup campaign.

He will meet two of last year’s finalists in his heat.

Western Sonador is resuming from a spell timed with this race in mind and has finished runner-up at two recent trials in quick splits.

Kowalski Analysis is building on his comeback from a bout of illness, collecting the Ouyen Pacing Cup a little over a week ago after a runner-up performance in the Mount Gambier Cup.

A number of well-performed country horses are making the step up to cup class at Mildura, including Little Louie for Horsham’s Aaron Dunn.

He is a winner of just seven races but surpassed the $100,000 mark in stakes earnings with a last start win in the Allied Express Pace at Melton (Mar 23).

He showed at his first attempts at Cups class at Horsham and Charlton (6th) he is more than capable at this level.

“He has had no luck at either of those two and I do think he’s come back from his Sydney campaign (in February) stronger,” Dunn said.

“I really put him in at Mildura because of the barrier draw he had to get and from one I think he has the ability to lead. I’ll probably be looking to hold the front and I think he’s going well enough to lead and be right in it at the end.”