Gun driver David Moran did a little fist-pump to himself as he watched the NSW Inter Dominion heats at Wodonga’s Stump Hotel on Saturday night.
Moran is waiting in the wings to dial-up the Victorian flavour in the series to another level.
He has a strong association with Team McCarthy and has driven Expensive Ego when second in the Miracle Mile earlier this year.
And he knows he’s on standby to head-up to Menangle for the Inter Dominion Grand Final on December 11 to be reunited with Expensive Ego, a clear second favourite for the big one.
Moran’s pending role follows a better-than-expected opening heats night of the series at Menangle last Saturday for “Team Victoria.”
The only win came with the underrated Malcolms Rhythm in the third pacing heat, which provided a special moment for father-and-son David and Josh Aiken, along with their friend and loyal owner Dom Martello.
He’s not without a chance in the final given the gruelling 3009m will suit, he’s got gate speed and is expected to thrive on four runs in a fortnight.
Stablemate Max Delight ran fourth, but smashed the clock and was one of the best beaten runs of the night.
Also in the pacing series, it was good to see Triple Eight return to something like his best with a late-closing fourth to Malcolms Rhythm off a soft trial. He gets his chance from the pole over 1730m at Bathurst on Wednesday.
But it was in the first trotting heat where the Victorian “Run of the Night” honours went to emerging stayer The Penny Drops. To move around and sit parked and go within a head of beating hot Grand Final favourite Majestic Man was awesome stuff.
He’s got a challenge from outside the front row at Bathurst, but he should make it through to the final and no horse will relish the marathon 3009m final more than Ray Harvey’s revelation.
Matty Craven was happy with the improving Lotamuscle’s fourth in the opening trotting heat and Pink Galahs’ third in heat two after having to sit parked, which is her worst possible spot in a race.
Brent Lilley’s Kyvalley Chief ran a slashing second in heat two, opening the door for him to possibly make the final.
Asked who Victoria’s best winning hopes in either final are, I’d say in order: Pink Galahs, The Penny Drops then not much between Triple Eight, Max Delight and Malcolms Rhythm in the pacing division.
Bring on night two.
* pictures courtesy Club Menangle
Still on the Inter Dominion and the switch from 2400m to 1730m sprints at Bathurst will make for some fascinating racing.
Throw in wide draws to big guns like King Of Swing, Expensive Ego, Spirit Of St Louis and The Penny Drops and things get even more intriguing.
The big winners from the draws at Bathurst look to be:
R5 Pacing Heat 4: Triple Eight from 1, The Black Prince 3 and Mach Da Vinci 4
R6 Pacing Heat 5: Ignatius (but he looked plain on night one) from the pole and Alta Orlando 4.
R7 Pacing Heat 6: Western Sonador 1 (but hard to tell if he’s going well enough)
R8 Trotting Heat 3: Humble Ladd looks the best of the night from the pole, while Pink Galahs is in three.
R9 Trotting Heat 4: Majestic Man (can he improve on moderate night one win?) will lead again from two, Lotamuscle 1 and Caligula 3.
What wonderful recognition for Chris Svanosio to land the drive on NZ Cup winner for at least the first run of his upcoming Victorian raid in the Cranbourne Cup on December 18.
As if it wasn’t enough for Svanosio to be entrusted with the caretaker training role, owner Merv Butterworth said he was a fan of his driving and had happily locked him in for Cranbourne.
“I can’t recall seeing him make a mistake in big races from the opportunities he’s had,” he said. “Chris asked who I wanted to drive him and I said him at Cranbourne and then we’d keep our options open beyond that.”
Butterworth confirmed Copy That’s Victorian raid would consist of four races, with the Bendigo, Ballarat and Hunter Cups after Cranbourne.
“There will be no Miracle Mile. He’ll be flown back to Auckland after the Hunter Cup and have a bit of a break before the new slot race at Cambridge in April and the Auckland Cup after that,” he said.
The opinions expressed in The Forum are those of the author and may not be attributed to or represent policies of Harness Racing Victoria, which is the state authority and owner of thetrots.com.au.