The VHRSC Classic was dubbed as the dream clash between Victoria’s leading group of pacing heroes.
It was to be a clash of epic proportions until Caribbean Blaster came down with a low-grade virus.
That still leaves Smoken Up and Bitobliss to renew acquaintances in the 2240-metre Friday night feature.
But for punters hoping to see a repeat of last year’s Legends Mile where both horses were carving out mind-blowing sectionals, the message from the latter’s trainer is that they will have to wait.
Scott Stewart is intent on inflicting Grand Circuit pain with his superstar and his sole aim has been to have him peaking at the right time of year this campaign.
“The last two seasons we’ve got to late November and the wheels have fallen off so we’ve still got a bit to prove at that top level and being a stallion I would like him to get one of those Grand Circuit wins,” Stewart said on RSN’s new trots show Gait Speed.
“This time we were able to get a good preparation into him and race like we have whereas previously we’d come off an injury and we’ve sort of rushed a bit to get to the Kilmore Cup.
“This year it’s worked out better, he’s done a stack of work and had a couple of starts and we’ve just had a little freshen up and we’re right to go.”
That focus on reaping the rewards at the highest level has been the reason Bitobliss has been driven quietly at each of his three runs this time in.
And Stewart admitted that is likely to be no different Friday night, even if Smoken Up can find the top mid-race.
“When you are sitting up, luck can always come into it a little bit but just where we are at the moment I’m going to more than likely keep driving him the same at this stage and if we get beaten doing that then that’s just how it is,” he said.
“As long as we can get the horse back to 100%, which he is, and we can keep him a bit longer this time.”
The options following this weekend remain open for Victoria’s most exciting pacer.
His Goulbourn Valley conditioner has continually talked down the option of heading to the New Zealand Cup and he is still stoic despite Im Themightyquinn, and possibly Caribbean Blaster, falling by the wayside in recent days.
“I doubt it, just the way Christen Me looks and the racing style in New Zealand, he’s going to be very very hard to beat,” Stewart said.
“I expect to get 20 metres (in the Kilmore Cup) from winning two but any further than that would put a question mark on it and in saying that it’s what the other horses would get (which would affect my decision).
“Smoken Up was nominated for the Nyah Cup on Saturday and he got 40 metres there so if we get to Kilmore and I’m on the same handicap as Smoken Up, that could put a question mark on me going around.
“The Popular Alm sprint is on the same day so he will get nominated for that.”
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