The Robert Smerdon trained Ungrateful Ellen heads the betting for the Listed $300,000 Ballarat Cup (2200m) at Ballarat on the last day of the Melbourne Spring Carnival on Saturday.
In a very open betting race, Ungrateful Ellen has been posted as the $6 favourite with Ladbrokes.com.au ahead of the Darren Weir trained Akzar at $9 and Tony McEvoy’s Sysmo at $9.50.
Ungrateful Ellen has been unplaced from four runs during the Melbourne Spring Carnival but did show her staying potential during the Brisbane Winter Carnival when second to Winx in the Group 1 $500,000 Treasury Casino & Hotel Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Doomben.
“She was good in Adelaide in the fillies classic, 2400m, and then she went to Queensland and ran second in the Queensland Oaks over 2400m. So I think the extra is in her favour,” Smerdon told racing.com.
At her latest two outings, the Grey Swallow mare was beaten less than two lengths on both occasions when fourth to Tilla Bell Rings in a 2000m BenchMark 80- Handicap at Caulfield on October 14 followed by a fourth to Lucia Valentina in the Group 2 $300,000 Presto Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 7.
Smerdon has reported that Ungrateful Ellen has come through her run in the Matriarch Stakes in good order and heads to Ballarat in peak condition.
“Her program was designed around going to the Matriarch and then the Zipping Classic and while she ran well in the Matriarch and probably wasn’t in the best part of the track we decided to bypass the Zipping Classic and go to the Ballarat Cup,” Smerdon said.
“I think she’s better suited under the handicap conditions of the race rather than at weight-for-age in the Zipping Classic and the trip is ideal for her, 2200m.
“She went to Sandown last Saturday morning and had a maintenance gallop and worked really well so she goes there in good form and she can hold her form through a preparation so she’s probably at the peak of her preparation right at this point.”
Smerdon is pleased with Ungrateful Ellen’s overall form this campaign, but did say that he was slightly disappointed with her run two starts back.
“One flat run at Caulfield, the first time over 2000m where she ran fourth, not beaten far, but it was probably a bit disappointing. Her first couple of runs were really good and her run in the Matriarch was good. I think she is in good form.”
Craig Williams has been Ungrateful Ellen’s jockey so far during the Spring, but he is off to Perth this weekend for the West’s big double Group 1 race day on Saturday and is replaced by Craig Newitt who will have no trouble getting down to ride the 54kg minimum.
Melbourne Cup winning combination of jockey Michelle Payne and trainer Darren Weir are looking to wrap up a successful Spring Racing Carnival with another Cup win with Akzar.
Weir and Payne teamed up with Prince Of Penzance to win the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 3 and have a great chance to add another Cup to the trophy cabinet.
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Alzar’s best recent run was a last start fourth to Tristram’s Sun in the $100,000 Kyneton Cup on November 4.
Sysmo is stepping up to the 2200m for the first time and heads to Ballarat on the back of a fourth to Divan in a $100,000 BenchMark 90 Handicap over 2000m at Flemington on November 7, the last day of the four day Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Ballarat Cup market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $6 Ungrateful Ellen, $9 Akzar, $9.50 Sysmo, $10 Mujadale, Tooleybuc Kid, $13 Index Linked, $14 Don Doremo, Zayam, $15 Prince Cheri, Maygrove, Pondarosa Miss, Sonntag, $17 Digitalism, $18 Junoob, $34 Crafty Cruiser, $41 Lord Durante, $51 Wales, $101 Tanby.