Western District stables are set to be major players on Monday afternoon, January 27, in the $25,000 Pacing Championship at Laidlaw Park, Stawell.
Heading the list of nominations is the Aaron Dunn trained, former NZ gelding Silent Major which was far from disgraced last weekend in a heat of the prestigious Victoria Derby at Ballarat.
The 3YO son of Art Major USA finished mid-field, about three lengths from the winner after posting his final 800 metres in a slick 55.9 seconds.
Silent Major's previous outing resulted in a creditable fourth placing at Melton and a repeat of those efforts would see him in the finish on Monday.
Beautifully bred, Terang trained, 4YO gelding Fides, has the advantage over Silent Major of an extra 12 months racing experience and as the winner of 5 races from 21 starts is a force to be reckoned with.
The Matty Craven trained son of Rock N Roll Heaven USA will strip much fitter from his recent first-up run at Mt. Gambier and only needs a favourable barrier
Great Western's hope in the race lies with the Grant Campbell trained gelding Major Assassin.
The 5YO son of Art Major USA has been lightly raced since debuting as a late 3YO at Horsham in July 2018 and has only recently returned to the track after a nine months absence.
Major Assassin did plenty of work in both those runs, finishing second at both Hamilton and Ararat and is sure to be "cherry ripe" for the race.
Terang horsewoman Marg Lee has the improving 4YO, Keayang Blinky set for the race after a tough effort when second at Melton, in the $14,000 VHRC Provincial Pace Final on January 4.
While "the locals" look to hold plenty of aces in the Tontine Pacing division it's a somewhat different picture in the trotters' section.
The powerful Andy and Kate Gath combo has nominated the former Kiwi squaregaiter Scallywag Sam, which crossed the ditch in April 2018 and immediately impressed here in Oz with 6 wins from 8 starts.
Forward nearly 12 months, Scallywag Sam returned to the races but after two sub-par performances headed back to the paddock for another spell.
The 5YO gelding trialled solidly at Melton on Wednesday night and provided he pulls up well from that run is likely to start favourite at Stawell.
The Gaths also have a more-than-handy second-stringer Monaro Maro entered for the trotters' feature.
The 5YO mare's four wins in Australia have all been from behind the tapes and she certainly won't be fazed by the 2600 metre journey.
Izmok, from the Brent Lilley camp, is one to watch out for on Monday.
The 6YO gelding will have his first start in Australia after a workout at the Melton trials this week. Izmok is an experienced campaigner boasting 3 wins and 17 minors back in NZ and is proven from the stand over a staying trip.
Charlton trainer, Greg Norman, with yes another former Kiwi, Blue Coman look the best chance of Tontine success from this half of the state.
Kerryn Manning will likely take the drive on Blue Coman, which went down in a photo finish after a torrid passage at Charlton last month.
Full Fields, form guide, punting plans and gear changes for Stawell on Monday are available at www.harness.org.au
They're off at: Charlton (D) Thursday 30th January; Mt Gambier Cup meeting (N) Saturday, February 1st & Horsham (D) Friday 7th.