Melbourne Cup hero Whiskey Riot might have had his colours lowered in the Group 2 Ballarat Cup heats but trainer Anthony Azzopardi is upbeat about finishing 2019 with back-to-back Cup celebrations on his home-track.
A shock heat defeat has done little to dampen Azzopardi’s enthusiasm about winning the Ballarat Cup for the second time in three years on Saturday night.
Azzopardi won the race in 2016 with Zambora Brockie, which also came to Ballarat via the Melbourne Cup, where he was the beaten favourite.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Whiskey Riot pings the lids and leads,” Azzopardi said.
“Everyone is saying the three (Crimson Vixen) will lead and she might lead but if she does my bloke will be breathing down her neck.
“She won’t lead by three or four like some people seem to think.
“I’m not too worried about box seven. I’d probably prefer him to be out there with all the pace heading to the fence.”
After claiming a thrilling Melbourne Cup triumph, where he edged out another Ballarat Cup finalist in Western Envoy, Whiskey Riot was upset at $1.70 by Snags McKenzie in his Cup heat, edged out in a slick 25.08s.
“He came out good but his brother (kennelmate Fernando’s Riot) came out a little bit better and shifted off, which was a bit unexpected,” Azzopardi explained.
“It mightn’t have looked too bad but my other bloke was holding him up. All honours to the winner but I was happy with his run and the main thing was to get through to the final.”