Queen Elida Photo by Stuart McCormick
THIS is the reality check Brent Lilley knew was coming.
As dominant as his stable star Queen Elida has been for much of this year, she hasn't had Australia's best trotter to deal with.
That changes at Bendigo tomorrow night in the $30,000 Breeders Crown Trotters' free-for-all, which is something of an entrée to next month's Brisbane Inter Dominion.
"I'm looking forward to it," Lilley said. "I guess I'll be watching Just Believe almost as much as my mare."
"Just Believe has been the benchmark, so it'll be interesting to see how he comes back and how we go against him."
Just Believe had the measure of Queen Elida late last year and early this year but has clearly improved since.
She has won 12 of her 13 starts since Just Believe last raced in Australia.
Just Believe is having his first start since finishing a fantastic second at the last of his three Swedish runs in Boden on June 17.
This will be his only lead-up run before the Inter Dominion starts two weeks later.
"Just Believe hasn't raced for so long, and even though we've drawn wide on the front row, I think it's better than being off the back like he is," Lilley said.
"Queen Elida is certainly better than she was 12 months ago. She's that year older and has so much more experience racing in the better races."
"She's really going well into this, and the run will top her off nicely for Brisbane."
Lilley expects driver Chris Alford to keep working forward from gate seven in the 2150m race.
"I think she's earned the respect to find the front eventually. I thought Sleepee (gate three) looked like the leader, but there are some other nice ones drawn inside us, too."
"If Chris keeps going forward, he's going to be in a position to control the race to some extent anyway."
Visionary (gate two), Mufasa Metro (five) and Im Ready Jet (six) are the other key runners in the race.
Also at Bendigo, trainer-driver, Chris Svanosio will use the Crown 4YO Trotters' final to decide if his stable star, Arcee Phoenix heads to the Inter Dominion.
While former star juvenile Plymouth Chubb, who is being set for Brisbane, will have his second run back from injury.
Premier trainer Emma Stewart's attack on the Inter Dominion will be a lot clearer after the $50,000 Breeders Crown Pacers' free-for-all (race six) at Bendigo.
Stewart has five runners: Hurricane Harley (two), Mach Dan (four), Beyond Delight (five), Major Moth (six) and Act Now (nine).
Victoria Cup winner Act Now and last-start Geelong Cup winner Mach Dan look like the key players for Brisbane.
Mick Stanley's star Rock N Roll Doo returns from a short freshen-up and has gate one at Bendigo, but there is a power of gate speed outside him with the likes of Hurricane Harley (two) and Mach Dan (four).