Arty looking too smarty

Superstar pacer Lochinvar Art looks to have another Group 1 at his mercy in Saturday night’s $110,000 Group 1 Ballarat Pacing Cup (2710m).

Australia’s best pacer has drawn the front row, albeit wide in gate six, and is sure to be pressing for the lead soon after the start.

Interestingly, blazing beginner Hurricane Harley has beaten Lochinvar Art at two of their past five clashes – both times when he’s led easily – and he’s drawn to lead again from gate two.

That said, Hurricane Harley has only managed to finish fifth and seventh respectively behind Lochinvar Art at his two starts in a semi-final and final of the Vicbred 4YO series.

And the gruelling 2710m trip this week plays far more in Lochinvar Art’s favour, a major factor not lost on his trainer-driver David Moran.

“I guess Hurricane Harley drawing gate two makes it a little bit tricky, but at the same time it leaves them with a tough decision to make; whether they try to post (Arty) knowing he (Harley) probably won’t get the 2700,” Moran said after the draw.

Moran added Lochinvar Art had “definitely improved” since his record-equalling win in last week’s Shepparton Gold Cup.

“We all know he thrives on the hard racing. He’ll be better this week and better still again for the Hunter Cup,” he said.

The Aussie TAB has Lochinvar Art $1.25 favourite from Hurricane Harley ($6.50 to $8) and Wolf Stride ($8.50 to $10).

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King Of Swing’s Hunter Cup defence preparation has changed a little.

Instead of tackling a mile sprint at Menangle this week, driver Luke McCarthy said the mighty pacer would have his final lead-up run over 2300m next week – just seven days out from the Hunter Cup.

“He’s really well. We just felt a 2300m run was a better preparation for a race like the Hunter Cup,” McCarthy said.

Former Kiwi pair Star Galleria and Alta Orlando be trainer Craig Cross’ other two runners.

“Star Galleria will be improved by his two runs for us and Alta Orlando returned to form winning at Goulburn (the Cup) last Sunday,” McCarthy said.

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Superstar trotter Tornado Valley’s Great Southern Star defence is hanging by a thread.

If he runs, and it’s a big if, he will go into the feature first-up since October 10, last year.

“We did some remedial work on his hocks and it means we’ve run out of time for a lead-up race,” trainer Andy Gath said.

“We’re really just playing it by ear from here. We won’t run him for the sake of it.”

With the Great Southern Star on February 5, the last gap could be a Melton trial on Monday, February 1 – the night before the fields for the heats are finalised.

The Great Southern Star returns to its traditional format with heats and final on the same night.

If Tornado Valley doesn’t make it, Gath still has two major players in the rejuvenated McLovin and emerging star Majestuoso.

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