MISS Leonidas has been the talk of Bendigo racing in recent times - and rightfully so following her April win in the Listed Bel Esprit Stakes and subsequent placings at Caulfield and Flemington.
But it's another Shaun Dwyer-trained galloper who gets his chance to make an impression at Caulfield on Saturday.
The four-year-old Heavenward will chase his third-straight victory in a $125,000 benchmark 84 handicap after wins this month at Bendigo and Echuca..
The gelding will be without the services of his astute trainer, who is in Fiji following the wedding of his son in New Zealand last weekend.
But Dwyer has been in regular contact with his stable foreman back in Bendigo and is hopeful Heavenward can take the step-up in grade following his impressive benchmark 64 win at Bendigo a fortnight ago.
"He has matured into a nice horse now ... I had a few problems with him last November with a lung issue, but he seems to have come through that," he said.
"He's got up over a distance where he can control himself from in front.
"Whether he is up to this (grade) I'm not sure, but he drops six kilograms on his last win, which is a big plus.
"It's a good field, but he can lead. It's just a matter of whether he is good enough with the weight drop."
Dwyer shelved plans to send the promising three-year-old Chilula to Doomben this weekend, following the filly's slashing fourth in the So You Think Hall of Fame Trophy (1600m) at Flemington on May 18.
"We took her to Flemington to see just where we were at with her and she came from last to finish a good fourth," he said.
"She didn't have a lot of luck and probably should have finished third.
"She is a nice mare in the making."
Miss Leonidas has returned to the paddock, but will return in the spring, with the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on AFL grand final eve among his targets.
Meanwhile, as he has done with aplomb on many occasions over the past two years, Brent Stanley will carry the hopes of the region in another feature at the Bendigo Jockey Club on Saturday.
The Group 2 and dual Group 3 winning trainer will saddle up one of the leading chances in the $25,000 Elmore Cup with Snipes.
The five-year-old gelding, who has won four of his 16 race starts, is backing-up after an unplaced effort at Warwick Farm, where he succumbed to a combination of the top weight and a torrid run.
"The race in Sydney didn't pan out for him, they went really hard and nearly broke the class record, and he was up three-deep outside the leaders," Stanley said.
"He also had 60.5kg, which was tough all-round.
"He ran well but was found wanting in that last bit. He has hard time to recover from the run, had a good trip back and I reckon he will be hard to beat."
Snipes will be the lone runner for Stanley at Bendigo, after he scored a double at the second to last meeting at the White Hills racecourse on June 5, with Thunderbolt Two and Splendid.
The 2018 Bendigo Cup-winning trainer will make a quick trip to the Gold Coast on Friday to oversee track gallops on Saturday morning for Violate and Red Alto, who will run in Queensland the following weekend.
He will return to Bendigo in time for Snipes' race at 3.06pm.
A 16-horse Elmore Cup field (plus four emergencies) includes the Bob Challis Kyneton-trained galloper The Donchess.
The first of eight races on Elmore Cup day is scheduled for 11.56am.
Fields for the Elmore Cup meeting will be published in Saturday's Bendigo Advertiser.
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