Leading Melbourne jockey Luke Nolen has given today’s $150,000 Listed Ballarat Cup favourite Rothera the thumps up after rain softened the Dowling Forest track yesterday.
While the weather is fine at Ballarat, the track is rated a slow six.
Nolen, who stuck by Rothera when its trainer Peter Moody was ready to sack him, believes the wet ground will give the Queensland-owned galloper its chance.
Moody had booked a truck to Queensland for Rothera last Monday prior to his run in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m) at Sandown Hillside.
To the trainer’s surprise Rothera came away with a win at big odds.
Nolen was less surprised having suggested an improvement with the distance increase to 1800m.
Rothera increases again to 2200m for the first time in his career.
“The most significant thing is the yielding ground,” Nolen said.
“He had been working good at home, but wasn’t doing much in his races (until last Saturday).”
“He should also appreciate the distance increase from 1800 metres to 2200 metres.
“He was strong through to the line after covering a little bit of ground in the Eclipse, so there is no reason he won’t run the trip.”
The six year old gelding is backing up after eight days but did that successfully with former trainer Ben Currie in Queensland.
While Rothera has held steady in betting at $4.40, the Pat Carey-trained Ulundi has been a mover from $12 on Thursday to $7.50 with TABsportsbet today.
He is the well weighted horse in the Cup having finished within two lengths of Rothera in the Eclipse and taking ground from him in the final 100m.
Ulundi is 2-1/2kg better off on weights and likes a wet track.
He has won up to 2000m but his breeding Helenus from Willow (By Woodman) suggests he will actually enjoy the extra ground.
Robert Smerdon is aiming for a second hometown Cup with Paddy O’Reilly.
He drew widest in 17 but now the track is wet, being wide may prove the place to be.
Smerdon won the Ballarat Cup with McGuane in the 90s but has found a way to be beaten since.
Paddy O’Reilly comes into the race with a good last start third behind Ironstein in the Queen Elizabeth (2500m) at Flemington on November 5.
The Mike Moroney-trained Tinseltown goes into the Cup third up.
The eight year old never won first and second up but on has won on three occasions when third up.
He has held steady at $12 with Tabsportsbet.