SEVEN weeks out from the big day, interest is generating quickly in the 2017 Bendigo Cup meeting.
Bendigo Jockey Club CEO Aaron Hearps said an earlier than normal start to tickets and packages sales had the desired effect, with spots in most enclosures starting to fill.
“Early sale are very encouraging – we are close to selling out in a number of our key areas, being the First Past the Post marquee, and we’ve had some key interest in returning partners like CUB and the Bendigo Bank.
“And we have a few new things in place for this cup as well.
Among the new initiatives this year will be a designated family-friendly area.
“We really want to attract local families back to the racecourse and we’re creating a family ticket in a safe environment,” Hearps said.
“That’s something that’s been missing a bit over the past few years.”
A second new attraction – and sure to be a winner with punter – is a races after party.
The cup race broke new ground last year, with the Godolphin raider St Francis of Assisi becoming the first international stayer to win the feature race.
Hearps said the club was hopeful of further international interest in this year’s race.
“Based on the back of the Godolphin success, they said many encouraging words in regards to the track, so we’re hoping they might bring another horse in,” he said.
“We haven’t had any official word – but we will work alongside Racing Victoria and try and lure another international galloper and/or international jockey.
“The cup is still that ‘last chance’ to get into the Melbourne Cup for some horses and I know the previous year that happened with the winner (the Gai Waterhouse-trained The Offer) running an encouraging race in the Melbourne Cup.
“Being Group Three stature now, it’s a really strong race and worth over $300,000, so it’s not a race to be sneezed at.”
The BJC will first gear up for one of its other marquee meetings, the popular Beach Party race day on October 21, to be run on the same day as the Caulfield Cup.
Hearps said sales for that meeting had also been encouraging, with the event a popular destination for football and netball trips for clubs from around Victoria and across the border in New South Wales and South Australia.
A feature this year will be an appearance by popular Melbourne DJ Joel Fletcher.