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The nation’s two best trotters will provide an early preview of next month’s Inter Dominion Championship when they clash in the Breeders Crown Graduate Trotters Free For All at Bendigo on Friday night.
Star mare Queen Elida has been taking all before her in recent outings but that has been in the absence of defending Inter Dominion champ Just Believe who returns after doing Australia proud in Sweden earlier in the year.
Queen Elida was a class above the mares last start at Melton, working when racing wide before drawing clear to score easily.
That extended her winning streak to eight and she came from the back row to beat the boys in the Group 1 Bill Collins Sprint two back.
She has an imposing record at this distance and with the fitness edge on her side she looks hard to stop.
Just Believe oozes class though and did a fine job in Sweden, placing in his last two outings.
He tends to improve into his campaigns so could be shy of his best but has been readied with two trials and as Australia's benchmark trotter in recent seasons could well make a triumphant return.
The other feature on the night is the Breeders Crown Graduate Trotters Free For All and it too has brought together a class line-up where Rock N Roll Doo draws the ace.
He had to work when placed in the Geelong Cup last start to follow his brave fourth in the Victoria Cup where he was edged out in a blanket finish. He was a G1 winner in Sydney earlier in the campaign so has plenty of class and is drawn to get the favours.
Hurricane Harley hasn't raced since finishing down the track behind Rock N Roll Doo in the Len Smith Mile in September but he drew wide there so will relish a lower barrier. He is a three-time fresh winner who loves it here, winning five of six attempts.
Mach Dan beat a few of these rivals when he led to win the Geelong Cup last start. He is drawn to be involved again.
Act Now draws the back row but came from a similar barrier in winning the Victoria Cup two back so must rate highly while stablemate Beyond Delight is ticking along well and building in fitness so could be ready to strike.
The Breeders Crown series ramps up further at Melton on Saturday night with the four-year-old championships and the semis of the two and three year-old divisions.
The 4YO entires and gelding championship looks a race in two with Catch A Wave ready to win again.
He was terrific when edged out of the Victoria Cup last month and has placed in both starts since, the latest a third in a G3.
He gets the ace draw so is the one to beat but the enigmatic Captain Ravishing poses an obvious threat.
He was beaten into second when resuming as a hot favourite in the Yarra Valley Cup but races well second up so should be improved and is unbeaten in four tries at this shorter distance.
He has won six of eight at Melton and is brilliant on his day so could deliver.
The two year-old semis provide some of the best clashes of the night with unbeaten Draw A Dream tackling boom Sydneysider Lux Aeterna in the most intriguing of the fillies races while stablemates Timmy Rictor and Stormryder could be battling for final favouritism when they clash in the colts and gelding division.