SYDNEY trainer Ian Wilson has won bigger races than the Inter City Pace with Scandalman and is eyeing a tilt at the $200,000 Chariots of Fire for the gun four-year-old, but a victory at Maitland in the 50th anniversary running of the $50,000 Inter City final tonight is still very high on his wish-list.
Victoria Derby winner Scandalman is favourite for the 2422-metre event after a 30m win in the heats last weekend, but he will have to overcome an awkward second-line draw.
Victory would be a huge thrill for Wilson, who first came to the Maitland track about 30 years ago but has had only three runners in the final for a best finish of third.
"I'd love to win it," Wilson said. "I like racing on the small tracks and Maitland gets a magnificent crowd.
"It's one of the best atmospheres in NSW, Maitland, when they race on the tight track with the big crowds."
Wilson said Scandalman "went super in the heat and he's been perfect since then".
He expected Living Lord and Major Post, which both won their heats, would be hard to beat given their ideal draws of one and two respectively.
Scandalman's driver, Jim Douglass, will be expected to take his charge around the field early to take on the leaders, but Wilson said he would not be telling his reinsman what to do.
"The instructions will be, 'Do your best.' I leave the driving to Jimmy and he'll put him where he thinks he'll do the job," Wilson said.
"The horse has just got tremendous speed and stamina, so it won't worry him too much how he has to race."
Ellalong trainer Michael Formosa was the big winner yesterday when Bettor Sweet was scratched, giving Eye Spy Lombo a start in the final.
Eye Spy Lombo was the fastest third placegetter in the heats to earn the first emergency position and has drawn the rails gate on the second line.
Formosa said his seven-year-old deserved the change of luck to make the decider.
"He was very unlucky not to win his heat last week," he said. "He was in a good spot early but a horse stopped right in front of him at the 600 and he went from two lengths off the lead to 30m off it.
"He got going again, flew home and got third."
Formosa was not expecting the gelding to win the final but believed he could "be in the money somewhere" if he had a clear run.
"The distance should suit him," he said.
"He was only one second slower than Scandalman even though he lost all that ground, so on that he should run a good race."
Formosa has seven runners on the nine-race card, which starts at 6.10pm.
The final is at 9.15pm.