BATHURST product Todd McCarthy will go from the coveted barrier one draw on Friday night at Gloucester Park as he attempts to win the prestigious Inter Dominion Grand Final with Tiger Tara.
It will mark his third drive in the biggest race on the Australasian calendar, having placed second in 2014 with Seel N Print and 14th with Monifieth in 2015.
McCarthy's appearance continues his family's association with the grand final - his father John having made the decider nine times, while older brothers Luke (seven) and Andrew (one) have also take part.
The best any of the McCarthys have fared was Seel N Print’s 5.9 metres second to Beautide, but the favourable draw for this Friday Tiger Tara could see Todd finally clinch the main prize.
The Kevin Pizzuto trained son of Bettors Delight picked up a win and a pair of seconds in his three heat runs to book his spot in the $1.1 million decider.
It will mark his sixth start in 24 days – all of them being Group level races – but the 2,936 metres distance is expected to suit Tiger Tara.
“He loves the longer trip, so the 2,936 metres in the final will suit him down to the ground,” Pizzuto told harnessnews.
“I don’t think any of them can sit outside him and win … whether a sweeper comes is another story.
“They are all good horses and anything can happen, but they’ll have to be good to get past the Tiger.”
The heat win at Bunbury, where Tiger Tara held off Mark Purdon’s star runner Lazarus, is another reason why McCarthy and Pizzuto can feel confident heading into Friday night’s race.
Tiger Tara peeled off 26.5 seconds run home for a 2,100 metres track record 1.52.3 mile rate – smashing the old mark by 1.9 seconds.
Lazarus has drawn barrier two and was the favourite for the grand final in early betting, while Chicago Bull, who held off Tiger Tara in his third heat run, is another major threat.
Third place getter in the 2016 Bathurst Gold Chalice Final, Soho Tribeca, has also qualified for the decider, while former winner Lennytheshark is there too.
Still, Pizzuto feels that Tiger Tara will be very hard to beat following the favourable draw.
“When I lifted the trophy as part of the barrier draw today and saw it was one, I was dumbfounded,” Pizzuto said. “I’m rapt to have drawn there.
“It’s definitely increased his chances and he’s the one to beat in my eyes.
“Some people are saying Lennytheshark can cross him from six, but I reckon he can lead from there.”
The grand final will jump at 11pm AEDST.