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Victoria Cup preview

What a glorious night of harness racing at Melton on Saturday, one of the highlights of the Summer of Glory carnival. Headlining the night is the Group 1 TAB Victoria Cup. Harness racing, or 'the trots' was my first introduction to betting, have followed it for several decades and this is the best Victoria Cup field I can remember since the 80s. Class from top to bottom. Brilliant stuff, shame I can't see it live on this side of the world.

Taking the reins with the preview and making his first appearance on the blog is Luke Humphreys, @WorldRacingLuke. I've only posted the feature race preview here but he has a comprehensive preview of the card, including heats of the Victoria Derby and the Australasian Trotting Championship, and exotic bet tips for the meeting. You'll find that preview here.

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TAB Victoria Cup
Group 1, Open Class, part of the Grand Circuit.
Melton, 2240m, $400k, Mobile Start.

R7, 2132 Melbourne time, 1032 GMT.

Form guide link with replays

Latest markets

1 LENNYTHESHARK: Ran well first-up when 3rd in the G2 Shepparton Gold Cup after galloping. He’s run of getting very good barrier draws have continued. He should hold his own from the draw but is only second-up which is a concern. The positive with him though is that he didn’t drift off the track last start so his manners have improved. Each-Way.

2 FRANCO LEDGER: Stormed home after having a very soft run to grab last week’s G2 Shepparton Gold Cup. Can’t see him coming off the arm, after pulling so hard when doing so in the G1 SA Cup, so he might try and drop on to the back of Lennytheshark (1). If not he might get shoved back and is probably a place chance at best.

3 BEAUTIDE: 2013/14 Miracle Mile and Inter Dominion winner and was 2nd in this season’s renewal of the Miracle Mile after doing work. The negative he is going first-up into this race after missing the Ballarat and Bendigo Cup’s due to problems. He trialled well at Ballarat one week ago but will he be fit enough. Big question marks over his name. At his best he’ll be very hard to beat but is he.

4 PHILADELPHIA MAN: It’s fair to say we were probably expecting a bit more when only 2nd after kicking away in the G2 Shepparton Gold Cup. Before that he was unbelievable when smashing them in the G2 Horsham Cup. Not sure how he’ll go on the one week back-up and Gavin Lang has deserted him, for Guaranteed. Not sure if he’ll come out of the gate, maybe last week was a one-off. He’s got an Each-Way chance at best.

5 IM CORZIN TERROR: Wasn’t too bad in the Bendigo Cup when 4th. Winner of the G1 Ballarat Cup in December which was a very lucky victory, for many reasons. Poor draw tonight, doubt it.

6 CHRISTEN ME: Way too good in the G2 Bendigo Cup last start when playing with them in great style. Last season’s Hunter Cup winner, This season’s Miracle Mile and NZ FFA winner. He’ll probably be eased off the gate and then slowly work forward and if he’s one off the pegs before the mile, most likely he will be, he’s one of the horses to beat.

7 TERROR TO LOVE: NZ’s greatest horse this century but once again has drawn poorly in Australia. Three times a winner of the NZ Cup and confirmed his status as an Australasian champion when he outstayed Christen Me (6) in the Cranbourne Cup. He’ll probably work back from the draw and come into it with a trail, this race is sort of a trial for next week’s Hunter Cup, but if the luck goes his way he can win and even if it doesn’t he’s good enough to make his own luck.

8 CHILLI PALMER: Emergency but is very quick. Run of the race last start in the G2 Bendigo Cup and if he gains a start he could be a smokey as he’ll be sitting on the pegs. Each-Way

9 DAVID HERCULES: So gallant when just caught late in the G1 WA Cup last start after doing a power of work. He’s up to this level but after having such a hard run, only 15 days ago, and travelling all the way over from WA to Victoria and racing against the best horses going around tonight, it’s going to be tough. Great horse, tough horse, but up against it.

10 GUARANTEED: He’s gone from being a horribly gaited horse to the perfect racehorse. Comfortably won the G1 SA Cup last start and before that his was unlucky when 3rd in the G1 Miracle Mile and 2nd in the G1 Coca Cola Amatil Sprint. He’s been given the perfect preparation and the back row draw may suit as the speed will be on and Gavin Lang can make his move whenever he wants. Trialled strongly behind Beautide one week ago. The one to beat.

11 FOR A REASON: Certainly not a $41 chance. Wasn’t too bad in the G2 Shepparton Gold Cup last week. Pulled too hard in G2 Horsham Cup before that. Won this race last season when getting a great cart up into it and he might get a good cart into it again. Stupid odds and one of the winning chances.

12 ADORE ME: Unbelievable victory in G2 Flying Mile at Cambridge last start when eased down in 1:51.6 after sitting outside of Gold Ace. She’s won 24 races from 31 starts and this season’s NZ Cup winner. Her draw might be good with all the speed off the front row. Hard to beat.

13 RESTREPO: Another horse at massive overs. Tore them to pieces in the Hamilton Cup and was a promising 2nd in the Horsham Cup before that. The back row draw may suit. Could come into it with a good run. Not the worst.

TOP PICK: GUARANTEED (10) is the perfect racehorse and has the perfect preparation and driver for the big one. This season he’s been fantastic winning the G2 City of Melton Plate, G3 Swan Hill Cup, G2 Kilmore Cup and G1 SA Cup with he’s only two defeats being unlucky placings in the G1 Miracle Mile and the G1 Coca Cola Sprint. Fantastic victory at Globe Derby last start and in what looks one of the great Victoria Cups on paper, he’s the one they all have to beat.

DANGER: ADORE ME (12) is arguably is one of NZ’s best mares ever and if she won tonight she would probably confirm herself as the best harness mare to ever live worldwide. Her win in the G2 Flying Mile at Cambridge last start was first class, she’s won all the big mares races in NZ, she’s won the biggest race in NZ. She’s tough, quick, she’s got it all, plus Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, and is going to be super hard to beat.

OTHERS: CHRISTEN ME (6) is another superstar in this line up and is last season won the G1 Hunter Cup while his big victories this season include the G1 NZ FFA, Miracle Mile and G2 Bendigo Cup. He’s drawn a bit in no man’s land but was so unlucky in this race last season and there’s every chance he can go two better. TERROR TO LOVE (7) is the greatest champion in the race and even though he’s drawn quite ordinary and this is his little trial for next week’s Hunter Cup he’s too good to dismiss and he can make his own luck. FOR A REASON (11) hasn’t been going as bad as it looks and is certainly a chance to make it back to back wins in the race. RESTREPO (13) was awesome in the Hamilton Cup and is hitting form at the perfect time, which is a very good sign for him. CHILLI PALMER (8) could be suited by the fast speed if he gets a start. BEAUTIDE (3) is one of Australia’s best pacers but it’s a massive ask going into a race of this nature first-up and if he’s a little vulnerable, it could be a disaster. PHILADELPHIA MAN (4) didn’t finish it off last week and I’m not too sure how he’ll go on the one week back up. FRANCO LEDGER (2) was lucky to win last week. IM CORZIN TERROR (5) isn’t going good enough against these class. DAVID HERCULES (9) is one of the best horses in the race but has had to travel a long way and after having a gut busting run in the G1 WA Cup, it might be tough.

SELECTIONS: GUARANTEED (10), Adore Me (12), Christen Me (6), Terror To Love (7).

RATINGS: 10/ 12/ 6/ 7/ 11/ 13/ 8/ 3/ 4/ 2/ 5/ 9

SUGGESTED BET: ADORE ME (12) Each-Way

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