The Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit resumes this weekend.
With the Covid-19 global pandemic totally wiping or severely altering many and most things on the calendar, the Gr.1 $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Victoria Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton on Saturday night brings us a form of normality.
Our best open class pacers chasing the rich prizes up for grabs.
It’s a sight to behold.
But given the challengers we’ve faced this year, the current Grant Circuit title race comes with a twist.
So, with the Victoria Cup programmed for this weekend and the TABtouch WA Pacing Cup scheduled for December 4 at Gloucester Park, both of these races will be held twice during the extended 19/20 season (1 September 2019 to 31 December 2020).
Accordingly, these two races will be included in the 2019/20 APG Grand Circuit – thereby extending the Grand Circuit to a 10-leg series.
The previously postponed TAB Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship at Albion Park will be the final leg of the series on December 12.
Therefore, the race to be crowned the Grand Circuit ‘Champion’ is still very much alive.
And the current leader is the Craig Cross prepared King Of Swing, a winner of the past two Grand Circuit events, the Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile.
Both features staged earlier this year, back in February/March.
King Of Swing has amassed 200 points, he’s clear from Cruz Bromac (170) and then Thefixer (110) followed by Bling It On (105).
A lot has changed since then but his form remains as good as ever and he clearly appeals as one of the top prospects for the 2240m mobile start feature.
Amazingly, King Of Swing is one of five entrants for Cross while Emma Stewart has four runners engaged.
That’s 9 of the 13 runners between these two top stables.
Remarkably, Perth trainers Greg and Skye Bond had seven runners engaged in the WA Pacing Cup back in January.
The Cross stable is represented by (in barrier draw order) Balraj (1), Bling It On (3), Alta Orlando (5), Cash N Flow (6) and King Of Swing (7).
All five runners boast excellent form credentials and will command plenty of respect from punters.
The Stewart quartet includes Code Black (8), Tam Major (10), Hurricane Harley (11) and Major Times (12 – 1st Emerg).
As luck would have it, the five Cross runners all drawing the front-line while the Stewart runners all landed second-line draws.
Oddly, the pre-post favourite for the event doesn’t feature from those two stables, the David Moran prepared Lochinvar Art is the punters elect and draws handily in gate four.
The Chariots Of Fire winner scored a dominant victory at his most recent start in the Minuteman FFA two weeks ago.
Astute mentor Marg Lee is attacking the feature fresh with her star performer Code Bailey, the Christian Cullen entire hasn’t raced since his unplaced effort behind King Of Swing in the Miracle Mile back on March 7.
Following some nice recent workout efforts, Code Bailey starts from gate two with Jason Lee booked to drive.
Rishi, prepared by Lance Justice, scored a huge upset last week when triumphant in the Gr.2 Smoken Up Sprint and stamped his ticket for this week’s feature event.
The New Zealand bred gelding has drawn the second-line (gate 9) with Michael Bellman again booked to drive.
New Zealand Cup champion Cruz Bromac has raced just once this year and was unplaced behind Lochinvar Art in the Minuteman FFA two weeks ago but has since looked sharp in a trial.
Unfortunately, the Amanda Grieve prepared pacer has drawn gate 13, the outside of the second-line but has the services of brilliant reinsman Chris Alford.
Of the competing drivers, only Alford (x 3 – Golden Reign & Lennytheshark x2) and Kate Gath (Caribbean Blaster) have proven victorious while winning trainers with runners engaged this year includes Craig Cross (Bling It On) and Lance Justice (x 2 – Smoken Up & Sokyola).
First staged back in 1974, the Victoria Cup has witnessed several champions claim the great race and given the issues, directly and indirectly resulting from the pandemic, an outstanding line-up has gathered.
Last year, Bling It On and Luke McCarthy combined to score a thrilling victory.
In total, six runners from last year’s Victoria Cup back-up including Bling It On, Cruz Bromac, Cash N Flow, Tam Major, Code Black and Alta Orlando.
And just like last year, no mares are starting in the Cup.
The Pryde’s Easifeed Victoria Cup is scheduled to start at 8.32pm local time.