Exciting pacer San Carlo can claim a hometown victory in tomorrow night’s $50000 Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup.
The Steve O’Donoghue-trained and Bec Bartley-driven seven-year-old will be stepping out for the first time since an Inter Dominion campaign in Perth in November and last month in which he was a heat winner and finalist.
Racing up to anywhere near that form will make him a tough nut to crack in tomorrow night’s showdown, where he realistically looks to have only two obvious dangers — last Sunday’s Cobram Cup runner-up and recent Tasmania Cup winner Major Secret and Moonrock.
Under the conditions this trio has the worst draws, but arguably a class factor on their rivals.
O’Donoghue said yesterday he was pleased with San Carlo’s work since his Perth campaign, but whatever he did tomorrow night he would improve on.
‘‘His main aim is the Hunter Cup in early February and we’ll know how we are going to approach that race after Saturday night. There’s the Ballarat Cup and a free-for-all at Melton coming up, so well have options,’’ he said.
The sole interstate pacer in the cup, the NSW-trained Little Rascal, strung together three successive wins in September-October at Menangle, but has not flattered in four runs since.
But he is in the strong Craig Cross stable and will be driven by in-form reinsman John Caldow, so can’t be completely discarded.
Apart from San Carlo, other Shepparton trainers chasing a hometown triumph in the time-honoured feature are Amanda Turnbull, who will be represented by Jodan and The Faithful and Clive Dalton who prepares Hugh Victor.
Jodan, who has drawn the pole, has not raced since April, but is a 13-time winner.
The Faithful won over the mile trip at Ballarat two starts ago, but finished nearly 20m from the winner Messini in last Saturday night’s Bendigo Cup after having the run of the race over the longer trip.
In the Bendigo Cup, Moonrock put up a big run to finish fourth after being involved in an early burn and he looks capable of fighting out the finish.
Hugh Victor has drawn barrier two and will be driven by David Moran, but he will need to lift on recent efforts to cause an upset.
So too will Ideal Majority who has not placed in his last 11 starts, while Bernie Winkle is an improver, but may find some of these too good.