WEDNESDAY’S $250,000 Jayco Bendigo Cup will lack the class of previous editions of the feature race.
Nominations for the 2400m Listed event were taken yesterday, with 26 horses entered.
But like the Geelong Cup earlier this week and tomorrow’s Moonee Valley Cup, numbers will be down by the time final acceptances are taken on Monday morning.
Six of the classiest stayers in the 26 Bendigo Cup nominees – Moudre, Ironstein, Shenzou Steeds, Unusual Suspect, Vatuvei and Ibicenco – are acceptors for the $250,000 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m).
Shenzhou Steeds aside, the other quintet need to win the Moonee Valley Cup or the Bendigo Cup and get a penalty from the handicapper to qualify for the Melbourne Cup.
Luca Cumain, trainer of Ibicenco, Ciaron Maher, trainer of Moudre, and Gerald Ryan, trainer of Ironstein, all indicated yesterday their horses would run in the Moonee Valley Cup.
The Mike Moroney-trained Shenzhou Steeds is also heading to the Valley, while Bendigo jockey Brad Rawiller confirmed he’ll be riding the Mick Kent-trained Unusual Suspect at Moonee Valley.
One Melbourne Cup hopeful who remains in the mix to run at Bendigo is the Terry and Karina O’Sullivan-trained Exceptionally.
The mare ran seventh in Wednesday’s Geelong Cup behind Gatewood.
“We haven’t made up our mind yet,’’ Terry O’Sullivan said yesterday.
“We’ll either go to Bendigo or to the Lexus (at Flemington on Derby Day).
“She needs to win one of those two races. We’ll wait and see how things line up.”
The Darren Weir-trained and Gerry Ryan-owned Puissance De Lune will be one of the major chances on Wednesday.
Champion jockey Damien Oliver has already been booked to ride South Australian stayer Silent Surround in the Bendigo Cup.
Team Hawkes has entered dual Group One winner Fiumicino for the Cup.
The nine-year-old hasn’t won for three years, but a victory at Bendigo would lift his career stakemoney over the $3 million mark.
Bendigo Jockey Club chief executive Ian Hart expects a strong day of racing on Wednesday.
“Hopefully, a couple of the runners that are in the Moonee Valley Cup are scratched and saved for Bendigo,’’ Hart said.
“If not, it will still be a good race. Lloyd Williams’ runner Excluded is a horse on the up.
“We’d like to think we’ll still get a field of about 14 for the Cup.
“Nominations for the support races are strong... so it should be a great day.”
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