The 2014 Ballarat Cup field has been released and a capacity field of 18 horses are set to contest the Listed event at Ballarat on Saturday.
Group 1 winner Fat Al has failed to fire in his three race starts since returning to the races but, along with Tuscan Fire, will carry the top weight of 60 kilograms in the Ballarat Cup.
Fat Al (barrier nine) has not recorded a race win since he took out the Listed Golden Mile (1600m) at Bendigo in March and will be stepping up to 2200 metres for the first time in his racing career to date.
Tuscan Fire (barrier one) is another horse that has gone several starts without recording a race win, but he returned to a semblance of his best form with a fast-finishing fourth in the Listed James Boag’s Premium Stakes (1700m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day and trainer Daniel O’Sullivan believes that the Tuscanos gelding is close to peak fitness for his major spring assignment.
One of the only horses taking winning form into the Ballarat Cup is Robert Smerdon-trained Spinderbella, who will be making her black type racing debut after impressing in all four of her race starts this preparation.
Spinderbella (barrier three) recorded the first win of her campaign in the Support Jockeys Trust Handicap (1800m) at Caulfield on September 28 and she was third in the Pinker Pinker Plate (2080m) at Cranbourne on October 10 before she returned to winning form in the LF Sign Group Handicap (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24.
The only other horse taking winning form into the Ballarat Cup is Mujadale and the Mujahid gelding will be chasing his second straight Cup win after he took out the Ararat Gold Cup at his last start on November 9.
Group 1 placegetter At First Sight finished second in the Ararat Gold Cup and he will have the chance to turn-the-tables on Mujadale in the Ballarat Cup, while he will be joined in the race by stablemates Hurdy Gurdy Man (barrier 12) and Mobaco (barrier 15).
All three Darren Weir-trained runners will need plenty of luck in running after they drew wide gates and Hvasstan is another stayer that fared poorly in the 2014 Ballarat Cup barrier draw after been allocated barrier 19.
Hvasstan has performed inconsistently since starting his Ballarat Cup campaign with a second place finish behind stablemate Mourinho in the 1500 Metres Handicap on August 23, but he was far from disgraced when fourth in the Secondbite Plate (2000m) at Flemington on November 8.
Robert Smerdon-trained Electric Fushion (barrier 17), imported stayer Motivado (barrier 14), veteran stayer Rialya and David Huxtable-trained Waltzing To Win (barrier 13) will also need some luck in the Ballarat Cup after drawing wide gates.
Imported galloper Count Of Limonade (barrier six), experienced gelding Tanby (barrier eight), Queensland Derby placegetter Vilanova (barrier two), Bevan Laming-trained The Inventor (barrier 11), Country Cups regular You Think So (barrier ten) and Horsham Cup winner Happy As Hell round out the Ballarat Cup field.
The 2013 Ballarat Cup was won by Gai Waterhouse-trained The Offer and he went on to take out the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.