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The Hot Seat Weekender with Brittany Graham

In The Gig Harness Racing expert, BRITTANY GRAHAM, looks ahead to all the action coming up and tosses in a tip or two along the way.

TIME TO SEE BEST OF THE WEST

TWO sensational open class G1’s hold sway this weekend in the sport of harness racing.

Despite the lack of interstate representation in this year’s Western Australian contests for obvious reasons, the local contingent has drawn together a star-studded line up.

The $300,000 contest tonight features four representatives from both the Bond and Hall camps, whilst Ray Williams’ MAGNIFICENT STORM has been the hype horse of the West for some time and will be forced to overcome gate nine.

The mighty CHICAGO BULL needs no introduction, and the now ten-year-old would complete a miraculous return should he prove successful and add to his $2.3m dollar prizemoney tally. Proving too tough in last week's open class event after parking out, he has a nice gate of four to contend with.

The speed map is proving tricky to decipher, with Team Bond firmly in the box seat.

VAMPIRO utilised his lightning early speed to put himself in front before handing up and eventually proving victorious in the Cranley Memorial a fortnight ago, whereas his stablemate MINSTREL’s early speed and fragility will be tested from the 1 alley.

It looks likely that at some stage ‘Bully’ will be forced to sit outside the leader, but who is in the lamp-lighting position will have a large bearing on his ability to sit parked and win.

When it comes to MAGNIFICENT STORM, it looks as though the race has been taken out of Aldo Cortopassi’s hands with the wonderful five-year-old likely to be forced to sit back and come with one run. There is no doubt that for a prize pool this large, the tempo won’t be loafing, and it isn’t improbable that he can come from that position to win, however the on pace and pegs advantage around Gloucester Park is unparalleled.

I am sticking with Minstrel on top, although the $2.10 TAB Fixed Odds price currently is a little skinny for mine, and I believe there will be a point of concern at some point from the barrier draw.

BALCATHERINE is a mare in unbelievable form, and she is a blowout hope despite the draw. She opened at $81 earlier this week and has had steady support which has seen her trim into $34.

Check out the latest TAB Harness Racing markets here.

ARE WE IN FOR ANOTHER ARTY PARTY

THE Ballarat Cup has always been an incredibly deep event, and its positioning on the calendar means that its often a logical lead-up ahead of the Hunter Cup in a fortnights time.

The titanic struggle between BLACKS A FAKE and SAFARI in the 2008 edition will never be forgotten, while the domination of the Kiwi raiders in the last ten years has been brutal for the locals. It’s a champion horses’ race, and this year’s edition has brought together a superstar field.

There has been a school of thought from some in the industry that the comeback performance of LOCHINVAR ART was a ‘pass mark’ last week, and that surprises me no end. The now six-year-old stallion hadn’t raced through injury for close to 12 months, had completed two very soft trials and did a stack of work over the last 1200m in a track record-smashing mile rate. Add to that, he was only beaten by a fit and in form pacer who had a cold sit on his back.

I thought his performance was enormous, and I believe the improvement out of it will be significant.

In saying that, this week’s G1 is another step up and there are five other proven G1 winners looking to snare the $62,000 first prizemoney, many of which haven’t experienced the setbacks ‘Arty’ has in the last 12 months.

The barrier looks perfect for the returning star, and after drawing two he is in the box seat to make a play for the lead at some point. MAX DELIGHT’s gate speed will be instrumental in the early burn, with the Victoria Cup winner possessing the speed necessary to touch down to the fence first in my eyes, however either way, I am not sure there is a runner on the front line who would be willing to park Lochinvar Art.

EXPENSIVE EGO is returning after his tumultuous Inter Dominion final performance without a trial however his driver Luke McCarthy has mentioned in the media this week that his work has progressed to a new level after the gruelling series, and he is confident of a forward showing.

It has been one way traffic in terms of market support this week for Lochinvar Art, and after opening equal $2.60 favourite with TAB, the wave of money has seen him trim into $1.70. You can now grab $3 around Expensive Ego, SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS is on the drift out to $5 and remarkably, the champion mare AMAZING DREAM is $19 – it wouldn’t be the first time she has bloused the boys at a big price if she was to descend late.

BEST BET OF THE WEEKEND

Ballarat Saturday: R7 No.2 Lochinvar Art.

VALUE BET OF THE WEEKEND

Menangle Saturday: R5 No.9 Just Remember Me.

Check out the latest TAB Futures markets here.

Brittany Graham is a regular host on Sky Racing and the Sky Racing Active app, plus In The Gig with Ben Way and Gareth Hall every Tuesday night on Sky Racing 2 from 6pm.

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