Trots fans will be hit for six over the next three weeks when the Trots Country Cups Championships peaks ahead of the Summer Of Glory.
A series of double-headers begins with Bendigo tomorrow night and Cobram on Sunday before the Shepparton-Hamilton cups double the following weekend and the Ballarat-Wedderburn cups on January 20 and 21.
It’s an opportunity for Victoria’s leading pacers and trotters to make their move in the series premierships and among those positioned to do just that is trainer Gary Lawler’s Bad Billy.
Leading concession driver Jason Lee guided the Badlands Hanover gelding to second in the Stawell Cup and would love to go one better in tilts at Bendigo and Hamilton cups.
“The Lawlers have really done a great job with this horse,” Lee said. “This is what they’ve set his future on from day dot – to be a country cups horse, and they’re now starting to get him into a few of those country cups.”
LISTEN: JASON LEE JOINS THE TROT LINE TO TALK LUMINEER, VINCENNES AND BAD BILLY
Victory in either would put Bad Billy well into contention for the Trots Country Cups Championship, which at season’s end gifts $25,000 to connections. That campaign ramps up with Saturday night’s PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup, with Bad Billy drawn in gate four, outside favourite Ideal For Real.
“It’s obviously a small field, pretty sharp field though,” Lee said. “He’ll run well. Sometimes it depends what the tempo of the race is, there might not be a lot of tempo, so he’ll have to take short cuts and hope for the best.
“He’s obviously probably not got the ability of an Ideal For Real, but he’s first up and Bad Billy will be running on well. He showed that he can run good over the trip in the Stawell Cup when he went really well.”
Bendigo will be a timely test against a few types, in particular Ideal For Real and Moonrock, who many believe to be bordering on the top tier of Australian pacers. Bad Billy’s campaign will then turn to Hamilton’s Group 3 cup the following Sunday.
“You can never write him off, he’s a speedy little horse, he got a confidence booster last start (when he won at Melton) and he should be ready to go.”
TAB.com.au markets list Bad Billy an $18 chance, with the market dominated by Emma Stewart’s favourite Ideal For Real, despite the American Ideal entire being first up since his Breeders Crown victory on August 28, 2016.
“We’re really happy with him,” Stewart said. “He had a few trials back, he trialled OK, he was winning his trials but wasn’t doing anything startling, so we put a heap of work into him (at home).
“He always has a few niggling little problems, so we’ve ironed all of them out and you’ll see a pretty good horse come out on Saturday night.
“He’s first up and over the long trip and against horses who have been racing week-to-week, so we are not going to be driving him stupid. He’ll probably just flop out and see where he lands. He has exceptional turn of foot, so as long as he’s thereabouts, which he should be, they will definitely know he is there.”
LISTEN: EMMA STEWART JOINS RSN 927 TO TALK HER BIG TROTS WEEKEND