Home-town jockey Brad Rawiller’s ride on Puissance de Lune headlines a field of 26 horses that have nominated for Wednesday’s 2012 Jayco Bendigo Cup.
The Darren Weir-trained stallion ran second to Hornet’s Nest in Warrnambool last Thursday, a race in which Rawiller was suspended for an original period of 10 days, which was later shortened.
There are a number of Melbourne Cup hopefuls that have been nominated for the race with Excluded, Exceptionally, Moudre, Vatuvei, Guns At Five, Ironstein, Unusual Suspect and Ibicenco still attempting to qualify for the race that stops the nation.
Bendigo Jockey Club president Brendan Dreschler said the club was expecting a strong field to contest the 2400 metre race, which has been given a boost by additional prize money and the change to its staging in the midst of some of the country’s biggest races.
“It’s increased to a $250,000 cup this year, which we’re really happy about,” he said.
“We’re strategically placed now between the WS Cox Plate and Derby Day, which is a lot better than being the week after the Melbourne Cup as we previously were.”
“Before, as far as we were concerned, it was like having the Brownlow Medal after AFL Grand Final Day. Now we’re right in grand final week, and we’ve able to attract some international horses that are looking to move up in the scales a bit and make their way into the Melbourne Cup.”
The best placed of those this year is Ciaron Maher-trained galloper Moudre, who sits 28th on the Melbourne Cup ballot order having finished 14th out of 18 in last Saturday’s Caulfield Cup.
Dreschler thinks that in time, the Melbourne Cup winner will have taken out the Bendigo Cup six days prior.
“Look at Tanby last year, it won here and only lost to (2011 Melbourne Cup winner) Dunaden in the Geelong Cup by two lengths a week before,” Dreschler said.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to get prize money up some more and become a group three race, then the race will be even stronger.
“The race gets bigger every year and given time, I think the Melbourne Cup winner will have also won the Bendigo Cup as a lead-in event.”