Big test for Bolt for Brilliance at Geelong

By Adam Hamilton

Bolt For Brilliance’s long-time stranglehold on Inter Dominion trotting favouritism will be tested at Geelong on Saturday night.

Looking to bounce-back from the debacle that was his luckless second at Shepparton last Tuesday, Bolt For Brilliance will clash with emerging Aussie star Just Believe for the first time in the series.

And Just Believe, who boasts plenty of early speed, is drawn the pole, while Bolt For Brilliance is right next door in barrier two.

Despite the gate advantage to the Aussie, Bolt For Brilliance is a $1.40 favourite and Just Believe at $2.70.

Adding extra spice to the clash, Josh Dickie will take the reins on Bolt For Brilliance with trainer and regular driver Tony Herlihy returning to NZ briefly for Sunday’s huge Addington raceday.

In Bolt For Brilliance’s favour is the stretch to 2570m at Geelong, but Just Believe won’t be fazed by the staying trip, having run third in last year’s Inter Dominion trotting final at Menangle over 3009m. He also won the Kilmore Trotters’ Cup over 3150m on September 23.

Much interest will centre on whether Just Believe’s driver Greg Sugars wants to get into a battle if Dickie goes in search of the lead on Bolt For Brilliance.

The race shapes as the highlight of the last round of qualifying heats at Geelong.

The second trotting heat shapes as another “match race” between former Kiwi pair Musafa Metro (gate three) and Queen Elida (seven).

Musafa Metro, who looks the leader from gate three, has run good seconds in both heats so far, while Queen Elida ran second to Just Believe on night one then won as she liked at Shepparton on night two.

All the early money has been for Musafa Metro ($2.20 into $1.90) given his barrier advantage and the expectation he will lead, while Queen Elida will have to do plenty of work from her wide draw.

The third trotting heat gives star Victorian Majestuoso a chance to get some much-needed confidence from gate five against moderate opposition.

In the pacing series, the stunning dominance of Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin looks set to continue with favourites in all three Geelong heats.

Stewart and Tonkin have won four of the six heats runs so far and are right on target to have a record-equalling five finalists: Honolua Bay, Act Now, Mach Dan, Beyond Delight and Narutac Prince.

If so, it will match the deeds of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen when they had five runners in the 2019 Auckland final where they snared first and third with Ultimate Sniper and Thefixer.

Honolua Bay is a $1.50 favourite from gate five to be the only pacer to complete a clean sweep of the heats in race six.

Act Now has been plunged from $2.50 into $1.65 to lead throughout and beat Expensive Ego in race seven.

While Mach Dan is $1.85 to overcome a wide draw (gate seven) and win race eight.

The fields for both finals will be decided at Geelong and the barrier draws done on Monday.

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