EPPALOCK trainer-driver Anthony Crossland and Rules Dont Apply have given their high-profile rivals plenty to be wary about following a dominant display in their heat of the Vicbred Super Series at Tabcorp Park Melton on Tuesday night.
The four-year-old Muscle Hill gelding produced a faultless trotting display, putting his nine rivals to the sword to win by 28.3-metres over Indefensible for the trainer-driver combination of Rickie Alchin and Kerryn Manning, with the $1.33 favourite Cover Of Darkness - far from being on his best behaviour - back in third.
The Ray Cross/Maryborough-trained Whos Countn finished fourth and will join Rules Dont Apply in the final to be run on New Year's Eve at Melton.
It was the second win from three starts this preparation for Rules Dont Apply, who returned from a nearly four-month break in mid-November to win the Elmore Trotters Cup in convincing style, before finishing down the field after breaking at his next start at Melton on November 27.
Crossland has always had a good opinion of the well-bred trotter, who notched up his seventh career win from 20 starts.
Tuesday night's performance certainly vindicated his judgement.
"I don't think I've made any secret of my opinion of him," he said.
"The Vicbred has been the goal all along. His first run back was really good, and then his second run, we had a slight little hiccup there."
"But it wasn't through ability, that hiccup. He was able to fix that (on Tuesday).
"I don't know too many horses who don't have the odd hiccup. Take away Winx and there's not too many with an endless run of sticks to their name."
Crossland admitted to heading to Melton with a good degree of confidence in Rules Dont Apply, who is currently the only horse he has in work.
"I was pretty confident, we were pretty happy with where he was," he said.
"There's a bit of water that needs to get under the bridge in the meantime (before New Year's Eve), but we're happy where we stand.
"The barrier draw is (Wednesday) night, we'll see where the marbles lie after that.
"He's fairly versatile, so we're just hoping for a healthy horse on the day."
It was a good night for the progeny of Muscle Hill, with the Lisa Miles-trained and driven Powderkeg winning the other four-year-old entires and geldings heat.
Other Bendigo region-trained trotters to qualify for finals on Tuesday night included the Brad Stevens-trained Everybodylovesme, who finished fourth behind Im Ready Jet in the first heat of the four-year-old trotting mares, and La Serena (Alex Ashwood) and Mazikeen (Maree Campbell), who finished fifth and sixth respectively behind Ofortuna in the second heat of the four-year-old mares.
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