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05/07/02 Rivals Say Ballata's The One to Beat
Reigning Great Eastern Steeplechase winner Ballata is the one to beat according to leading jumping trainers Eric Musgrove and John Wheeler, who are both attempting to beat the South Aussie in tomorrow's Grand National Steeple at Flemington.

Wheeler, who will saddle up Ballata's last jumping race conqueror Crafty Dancer, in tomorrow's feature felt the Gordon Richards trained galloper was the one the beat.

"His form is good and his win in the Great Eastern at Oakbank earlier this year was very strong," Wheeler said. "I feel he's going to be the hardest to beat tomorrow."

Crafty Dancer, who'll be ridden by Brett Scott, edged out Ballata in the recent Australian Steeple, in a race that Wheeler was impressed with the effort of the runner-up.

"He (Ballata) didn't have a great deal of luck when he ran second to us," he added. "The extra distance should really help him too."

Meanwhile, Eric Musgrove, who'll saddle up this year's Warrnambool Grand Annual winner Hibernian Prince, is also leaning toward Ballata as the horse to beat.

He told AAP's Mark Ryan yesterday that he was thinking Ballata was the one to beat ahead of Leading Bounty.

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