Auckland Cup winner Self Assured is facing a very tricky return to Australia on Saturday.
The outstanding pacer, who many rate the most talented in Australasia, has drawn the inside of the second line in the Ballarat Cup — the one draw co-trainer Mark Purdon didn't want for the 2710m mobile group one.
"That makes it tricky and we will have to look at our options at the start," Purdon said.
Those options look limited as Self Assured follows two stablemates from the Emma Stewart team in Tam Major and The Storm Inside and if Purdon, driving Self Assured, elects to try his luck sticking to the inside early he isn't likely to get many favours.
So the punters who take the short odds are probably betting on him going back to near-last to get into the running line. That could potentially leave him vulnerable to rivals who may not be as good, including his own stablemate Chase Auckland, but could get more economical trips.
Chase Auckland has drawn barrier four (after emergencies) with fellow Kiwi pacer A G's White Socks at barrier three and the three New Zealanders dominate the market.
"Chase Auckland has come through last Friday [Cambridge] really well but Self Assured would still be our best chance this Saturday," says Purdon.
Former New Zealand Cup winner Thefixer has been allowed to miss this week's race after casting a shoe in the Flying Mile and will instead target the Casey Classic on Saturday week as his lead-up to the Hunter Cup on February 1.
South Auckland pacer Triple Eight is now also set to cross the Tasman to contest those same two races.
Purdon's Victoria Derby hope Smooth Deal has an awkward draw but will still start favourite in Saturday's strongest heat of the Victoria Derby, where he meets Bad To The Bone and Line Up as well as last season's Aussie juvenile star Be Happy Mach.
They all need a top four finish to qualify for the final at Melton the following Saturday.
Purdon is now also the caretaker trainer for Stylish Memphis who contests a Victoria Oaks heat this Saturday night.
Oscar Bonavena was the only trotter from the All Stars stable to make the trip across the Tasman and races at Melton the following two Saturdays.