VICTORIA'S leading trainer Emma Stewart will launch a four-pronged attack on this Friday's $70,000 Garrad's Horse and Hound Bendigo Pacing Cup at Lord's Raceway.
Stewart will supply one third of the 12-horse field in the Group 2 feature, headed by the current Trots Country Cups Championships leader Code Black and Phoenix Prince, who is second in the standings.
An awesome foursome of contenders includes the undoubted rising star of Victorian harness racing The Storm Inside and recent Geelong and Cranbourne cups placegetter Tam Major.
A high-quality field is boosted by last year's Bendigo Pacing Cup winner San Carlo, who returns to action for the first time since his unplaced run in the Inter Dominion pacing final in New Zealand on December 14, and the class David Aiken-trained pacer Wrappers Delight.
A local flavour will be added by the Terry French-Heathcote trained Form Analyst, who has drawn to lead from the pole.
The six-year-old gelding has been racing consistently in weaker class races and will provider a major thrill for his young driver Tayla French, who gets her first Bendigo Pacing Cup start, about 16 months into her blossoming career.
Up against the might of the Stewart stable and 2019 winner San Carlo, Terry French is expecting Form Analyst to be at odds of 100-1, but was nevertheless stoked his daughter was getting a crack at a Group 2 cup event
"Drawing the one, he's not going to have to do too much work, and if they go helter skelter, we can sit on the fence," he said.
"She'll run the (2650m) distance out, that's why he's in there - he's an out-and-out stayer and the harder they go the better.
"Probably the major reason I've thrown him in was for a little bit of experience for Tayla. We were going to go to Cobram on Sunday, but it's going to be 40-odd degrees, so we knocked that on the head."
While Stewart dominates the main chances, led by Maryborough and Yarra Valley cups winner Code Black, much interest centres on the appearance of her gun sprinter The Storm Inside.
The lightly-raced six-year-old has taken all before him with 16 wins in 18 career starts and has earned his first tilt at a country cup following a win in the Lightning Sprint at Ballarat on Boxing Day.
The ultra-consistent Phoenix Prince will be looking to add to recent Cranbourne and Geelong cup victories, with a third in the Stawell Cup behind Emain Macha and stablemate Code Black on December 1 his only non-win in his last four starts.
Tam Major continues to knock on the door with four placings in as many country cups run, including a second at Cranbourne, in a race where Stewart-trained horses filled the first four placings.
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