Bull's big weekend

By Adam Hamilton

THERE are two big questions around buzz pacer Chicago Bull this weekend.

 Firstly, can he overcome a tricky draw to win tomorrow (Friday) night’s $50,000 Group 2 JP Stratton Cup (2130m) at Gloucester Park?

 Secondly, and more importantly, will he make the trip across Australia to tackle Saturday week’s $200,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup (2240m) at Melton?

That question will be answered by Saturday, according to driver Gary Hall Jr.

“We’ve told the transport people we will give them answer on the Melbourne flight by Saturday to be fair to everyone,” he said. “You know we want to go, but it’s a hugely expensive exercise and we want to see how he goes this week and how he comes through the run.”

The Victoria Cup needs Chicago Bull.

The switch in dates from late January to October 14 seemed odd at the time as did the 50 per cent slash in stakemoney.

Harness Racing Victoria defended it saying they need to cut costs and that the Victoria Cup being run alongside the Hunter Cup had diminished the quality of both races.

But this October 14 timeslot is awkward at the very least.

Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have truckload of open-class stars, but none of them will be in the Victoria Cup because of the timing.

And, other than the now Aussie-based My Field Marshal, there will be no Kiwi flavour in a feature race with its history littered with so many great Kiwi-trained winners.

If Chicago Bull doesn’t come, this Victoria Cup will effectively be a strong Melton free-for-all with the addition of My Field Marshal, Tiger Tara and probably Yayas Hot Spot and Galactic Star as well.

Back to Chicago Bull this week and his challenge to overcome the inside second row draw (gate 10) where he follows out former Kiwi and likely leader Shandale (gate one).

“We’re going to need luck for sure, but if he sees daylight he will gather them in pretty quickly I reckon,” Hall Jr said.

“Gee he worked well here the other day. He showed us he was back to his best last time and he’s done everything right since.

“It would be great to win this week, but he doesn’t have to win for us to go to Melbourne. He just has to show us he’s right at his top.”

Chicago Bull is $2.50 favourite with the Aussie TAB, while the Mike Reed-trained Shandale is $2.90 second elect.

The other key runner is emerging star Soho Tribeca, who returned from a spell for the most dominant of wins in weaker class at Gloucester Park last week.

Trainer Kim Prentice returns to the sulky and Soho Tribeca starts from gate 11, alongside Chicago Bull on the back row.