Bling It On is the one to beat in Shirley Turnbull Memorial

A three-time Group 1 winner, Inter Dominion finalist and a career that’s hauled in $1.6 million in prizemoney.

DOUBLE: Bling It On is aiming to win his second Shirley Turnbull Memorial when he travels to Bathurst this Tuesday. Photo: COFFEE PHOTOGRAPHY

DOUBLE: Bling It On is aiming to win his second Shirley Turnbull Memorial when he travels to Bathurst this Tuesday. Photo: COFFEE PHOTOGRAPHY

It’s fair to say that Bling It On brings an intimidating record into Tuesday night’s Group 2 Shirley Turnbull Memorial (2,970 metres) at Bathurst Paceway.

Bling It On is set to start a red hot favourite for a race he won two years ago in dominant fashion.

Even a start from widest on the second row will be unlikely to deter many punters from backing the Craig Cross-trained horse, who ran a career best mile rate of 1:50.8 in his latest run at Menangle.

Bling It On’s driver Luke McCarthy is no stranger to success in the $50,000 event, winning two of the last three editions.

This year the race has been bumped up over 700 metres in distance to add a new level of endurance and tactical variety.

The race has once again brought a classy field to Bathurst, but the big question is whether any challengers can hunt down Cross’ champion runner.

“It’s been a race that Luke McCarthy has always aimed to get a drive in, given the family’s close friendship with the Turnbulls. He always ensures he’ll be there,” Bathurst Harness Racing CEO Danny Dwyer said.

“From what I’ve heard the Shirley Turnbull Memorial was always on the cards for Bling It On. He’s coming into this with impressive form too. He’s won his last three starts in quick times at Menangle.

“I think he’d be hard pressed to come into this race with better form than what he’s showing right now. It’s a really great field he’s coming up against, but he’s going to be hard to beat.”

Among the impressive list of challengers is former Breeders Challenge champion Charlaval (Robbie Morris), Treuer Memorial winner My General Lee (Josh Willick) plus Bling It On’s in-form stablemate Admiral Bronski (Todd McCarthy).

Charlaval has the opportunity to take control of the race out of gate one, with trainer KerryAnn Turner aiming to defend her Shirley Turnbull Memorial crown she won last year with Aztec Bromac.

Turner’s win denied Luke McCarthy, driving favourite Allblack Stride, the chance to win his third straight memorial.

Charlaval finished just a short half head away from Bling It On last start.

My General Lee showed his credentials in a strong Treuer Memorial victory, leading from start to finish.

Like Bling It On, stablemate Admiral Bronski comes to Bathurst with three straight wins to his name. His success in the recent Group 3 Christmas Gift makes him an enticing each-way hope for punters.

Dwyer said the step up to 2,970m will add plenty of intrigue to the event.

“The club made the decision to increase the race length from 2,260m just to change things up, and perhaps give an opportunity for more mid-race moves to happen,” he said.

“From the draw I think Charlaval will get a nice run and go close to the lead. Then you’ve got a horse like Blazin N Cullen who might not be in the best of form at the moment, but he’s had some strong results at Menangle.”

The Shirley Turnbull Memorial is the sixth race on the program, with the feature to start at 9.10pm.