MORISSET trainer Mark Callaghan believes there's little between his two chances as he shoots for a special win in the Bill and Glenn Tomlin Memorial (2030 metres) at Newcastle Paceway on Friday night.
Callaghan qualified Bite The Bullet and Hidden Delight for the final with equally impressive heats victories last week.
Hidden Delight was slowly away, forcing driver Jack Callaghan to take her to the back of the field. However, the five-year-old mare wore down the leaders with a sustained three-wide run from the back straight to win by a half-neck in a 1:59 mile rate.
In his heat, Mark Callaghan-driven Bite The Bullet sat three and four back on the pegs in the run from a second-line draw. Callaghan found a split late and the eight-year-old gelding powered home to claim a 1.5m win in the same time as his stablemate.
Bite The Bullet faces a similar task in the $10,000 final after again drawing the inside of the back row. Hidden Delight, which had gate two in her heat, has four for the decider, if the emergency comes out.
Hidden Delight was rated a $7 chance, while Bite The Bullet was $17 for the final, where the Darren Elder-trained Rocktagonal was the $2.50 favourite despite drawing 11.
Callaghan hoped Hidden Delight could make better use of her front-line draw this week and Bite The Bullet would get luck again from the tricky gate.
"They are pretty even in terms of ability, it's just probably who has the better run," Callaghan said of his pair.
"There will probably be a bit of speed on early so if they overdo it early, it will bring the backmarkers into it. But if they don't, the backmarkers will find it hard to get into it.
"Obviously Hidden Delight is much better drawn but that doesn't mean much in these races.
"It's always a competitive race, so whichever horse gets the better trip on the night will probably win it."
Callaghan won the Tomlin Memorial as a trainer-driver with Gotta Go Lucky in 2013 and he also piloted Roy Roots snr's Mighty Federer to victory in 2010.
This year, Bill Tomlin has been added to the race title alongside his son. Bill, a life member of Newcastle Harness Racing Club and a long-time track curator at the paceway, died in January last year. Glenn died in a trackwork accident in 1997 and the memorial race has since been held annually.
Callaghan was glad to have two runners this year.
"I did a bit of driving for Bill Tomlin over the years and this is the first year that it's been named after both Bill and Glenn, so it's just nice being in the race," he said.
"The last few years there's been restrictions on the race and I haven't been able to go in it, so it's good that they've opened it back up again.
"It's one of the better races locally on the calendar."
In recent years, the locals-only series was restricted to trainers with five or less winners the previous season. This year, it is for locally-trained pacers with a national rating up to 56. The winning trainer also takes home a new gig.