Ballarat Pacing Cup provides another Trans Tasman battle

There’s the Bledisloe Cup, Constellation Cup and Chappell–Hadlee Trophy – all sporting events Australia and New Zealand do battle in.

And then there’s harness racing, with the Ballarat Pacing Cup as competitive as any feature event,

For two decades the Ballarat Cup has been a battleground for the best standardbreds from either side of the Tasman.

Master Musician was a pioneer of New Zealand raids, which are now part of the make-up of the group 1 event.

He ventured to Ballarat in 1997.

While he managed only seventh to NZ import Whale Of A Tale, Master Musician set the tone for Kiwi-trained stars.

Yulestar became the first NZ raider to capture the Ballarat Pacing Cup in 2001 and three years later Just An Excuse repeated the dose.

In latter years New Zealanders have come to dominate, winning in five of the past seven seasons.

Stunin Cullen (trained by Tim Butt) began the run in 2011.

Then came Highview Tommy (Mark Purdon) in 2012, Mah Sish (Tim Butt) in 2013, and Smolda (Mark Purdon) in 2016 and 2017.

Now there is every chance that Purdon will again take the title back to NZ as he lines up the favourite HEAVEN ROCKS in the $100,000 Ballarat Pacing Cup on Saturday, January 20.

Purdon looked to have a stranglehold on the event when he also accepted with champion 4yo VINCENT, which was backed into odds-on favouritism.

It was unfortunate for Purdon and the race that Vincent was found to be sore and had to be scratched.

However, Heaven Rocks is all quality and while sometimes erratic has every chance of take the Cup back to NZ for a third year.

Ballarat trainer Emma Stewart has been among those on this side of the Tasman who has been able to defy the Kiwis in the race – winning with Safari in 2008 and Restrepo in 2014.

She is again the best hope of keeping the silverware at home with Shadow Sax and Major Secret engaged.

CUP FIELD

1-HEAVEN ROCKS (Mark Purdon)

2-SHADOW SAX (Emma Stewart)

3-BERNIE WINKLE (Glenn Douglas)

4-MAJOR SECRET (Emma Stewart)

5-THE FAITHFUL (Amanda Turnbull)

6-VINCENT scratched

7-MR WICKHAM (Lee Evison)

8-LENNYTHESHARK (David Aiken)

9-IT IS BILLY (Mick Barby)

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