YOUNG Shelbourne trainer Kate Hargreaves plans to leave no stone unturned in her pursuit of a second career Group 1 victory this Saturday night at Melton.
The 32-year-old, who notched up her first Group 1 in the 2020 Vicbred Super Series two-year-old trotting final with Dont Care, will be aiming to add to a nice list of feature race successes during her career with Ludacrous in the $150,000 three-year-old fillies final.
She also has stable newcomer Alpha Tori in action in the $100,000 two-year-old trotting colts and gelding final.
Hargreaves is particularly bullish about the chances of Ludacrous, who - despite his awkward draw on the outside of the back row - heads into a star-studded final, dominated by runners for the powerful Emma Stewart stable, with solid momentum.
Again Victoria's premier trainer, Stewart will have five hopes in the final, headlined by the top two in betting, heat winners Major Delight and Joyful.
Ludacrous, to be driven by Lisa Miles, was brave in giving Joyful plenty to run down in last week's semi-final against, with the Stewart-trained runner only edging past in the shadows of the post.
Hargreaves said versatility and a sprinkling of luck would be the keys to her in-form filly's chances.
"The way she is going, she can be driven any way we like," she said.
"She is capable of leading and she can sit parked. Or if we want to we can drive her with a sit as she is devastatingly quick.
"She's got a lot of strings to her bow and we have that flexibility of driving her however we want.
"It will all come down to luck really."
Like many harness racing followers, Hargreaves is having a hard time splitting Major Delight ($2.30) and Joyful ($2.10) as the opposition's main threat, with a third Stewart runner the next best in early betting at $5.
"As far as the semi-finals went, Joyful was probably more impressive, but Major Delight only did what she had to do," she said.
"But Major Delight is the one to beat; the horse is an out and out superstar."
Hargreaves is especially hoping for a big night for Ludacrous' many owners, who include her father, a sprinkling of old and new stable clients and, of course, herself.
"Its a really good group of people. It's cool, none of us really knew each other and now that we have Ludacrous together, they all come to the races and everyone's become good friends," she said.
"It's so enjoyable."
Ludacrous, by Art Major out of the mare Luda, has proven to be an astute acquisition by Hargreaves, having earned $93,999 from her 21 starts, headlined by three wins, a remarkable 10 seconds and four thirds.
Hargreaves' other Breeders Crown starter, Alpha Tori, will be having only his second race start, after qualifying in fourth place in the heats at Maryborough on November 15.
She is hoping mainly for a more than competitive showing from the two-year-old son of Father Patrick, who showed promising signs in a pair of trials at Maryborough prior to his debut.
"I quite like him; he's a nice little trotter, but just needs a bit of a time," she said.
"He'll run well, but he's only had the one lifetime start.
"He's just not seasoned enough to be running against the best of the best.
"I think eventually he will be a horse good enough to win a good race, but he's not seasoned up.
"I think he'll hold his own on Saturday."
Michael Bellman will again take the reins behind Alpha Tori, after driving him on debut.