Rain resulting in track downgrade has helped Grand Dreamer claim the Listed Ballarat Cup.
One person happy to see the rain falling early in the program at Ballarat was trainer Robert Smerdon.
Starting Saturday in the good range, the Ballarat track was downgraded to heavy by the time the Ballarat Cup was run.
Smerdon saddled superior wet-tracker Grand Dreamer, who prevailed in the 2200m slog.
“The rain couldn’t have have come at a better time,” Smerdon said.
“You get these good tracks and then you get the rain but you only end up with a soft track.
“But the amount of rain we had today was something that certainly worked in our favour.”
Under the guidance of Patrick Moloney, Grand Dreamer ($7.50) scored by 1-3/4 lengths from Oncidium Ruler ($10), with the $3.60 favourite Grey Lion a long neck away in third.
For Ballarat boy Smerdon it was his second victory in the Cup after winning the race with McGuane in 1996.
Now based at Caulfield, Smerdon still operates a stable at Ballarat, where he educates his young horses while sending other gallopers to the country environment for a break from his city stables.
Smerdon praised Moloney for his ride on Grand Dreamer, who also appreciated the minimum weight of 54kg.
“I said to Patrick to ride him conservatively because it was going to be a more taxing test because of the conditions,” Smerdon said.
“You also need the right weight. In these handicaps it’s not always the best horse that wins but the ride today was first class.
“He’s had a good spring Patrick.
“The whole family are quiet achievers and he’s letting his riding do the talking.”
Moloney held concerns early in Saturday’s race that Grand Dreamer was not handling the conditions.
“I thought he was struggling going out of the straight the first time even though he’s got really good wet track form,” Moloney said.
“I thought he was getting bogged down but in the second half of the race he travelled kindly.”
Moloney added he could not remember the last time he had ridden for Smerdon in a metropolitan-class race.
“I don’t think I’ve had a ride for Robert in a metropolitan-class race since I was a three-kilogram claimer,” Moloney said.
“It’s good to get back on one for him and for a good group of owners.”