A FULL field of 16 for next Wednesday's Group 3 Jayco Bendigo Cup will include a pair of home-town runners.
The Nick Smart-trained Single Handed and Josh Julius-trained Super Girl were among Monday morning's final acceptances for the 2400m feature race, which for the first time will carry $400,000 in prize money.
It's the first time since 2008 the cup field has boasted more than a single Bendigo-trained runner.
A high-quality cup field is spearheaded by a trio of runners from the powerful Chris Waller-stable.
The trainer of former champion galloper Winx has 2018 Metropolitan winner Patrick Erin, Brimham Rocks and Captain Cook aiming for cup glory at the Bendigo Jockey Club.
Captain Cook, a seven-year-old gelding, will be attempting a second Group 3 win in three starts, after his impressive win in the $200,000 JRA Cup at Moonee Valley on AFL grand final eve, when he beat home fellow Bendigo Cup contenders Sully (second) and Top of the Range (sixth).
He has since finished third in the Listed Cranbourne Cup.
Former Bendigo jockey Nash Rawiller has been booked to ride Patrick Erin, while Waller has engaged 2018 Bendigo Cup-winning jockey Michael Walker for Brimham Rocks and Linda Meech for Captain Cook.
Rawiller will be chasing his first Bendigo Cup triumph in 19 years, with Patrick Erin one of four runners in the field seeking qualification for this year's Melbourne Cup.
The eight-year-old gelding is currently 28th in the Melbourne Cup order of entry and would require a win and a penalty to force his way into the field, as would Brimham Rocks (37th) and Sully (41st).
Top weight is the Gwenda Markwell-trained Angel of Truth (58kg), who will be aiming to make amends for a 15th placing in the $5 million Caulfield Cup earlier this mount.
The 2019 Group 1 ATC Derby winner is bound for the Melbourne Cup at 12th in the order of entry.
International runner Raheen House, from the English stable of William Haggas, will carry the second top weight of 58kg, with Brenton Avdulla to take the ride.
Several trainers will have multiple cup runners, with the David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig team saddling up light-weight chances Sin to Win and Creedence; Michael Moroney accepting with hang Man and Top of the Range; and Ciaron Maher and David Eustace placing their hopes in Bondeiger and Kilimanjaro
Early favourite in betting is Raheen House ($6), ahead of Brimham Rocks, Sully and Top of the Range (all $7).
Single Handed is rated an early $26 chance for new Bendigo trainer Smart, who scored a second in last Friday's Gawler Cup with Silent Command.
The former South Australian and more recently Ballarat trainer was confident of a competitive effort from hs cup hope, who is backing up after an unplaced effort in the Moe Cup, run on a heavy 8 track.
"I know the rain at Moe was a bit of a spanner in the works, but the positive was at least they ran the races. There was a long delay and they were talking about calling them off," he told the Bendigo Advertiser.
"If he hadn't had the run, we would have been up against it stepping up to the 2400m, but he did get a good gallop in and that extra bit of fitness should really top him off."
Declan Bates will take the ride on Single Handed.
A first Bendigo Cup runner for Julius, Super Girl will be partnered by jockey Damien Thornton, after she was ridden at her last start (a second over 2400m at Geelong) by Jye McNeil.
This year's event is the first to have two Bendigo-trained runners since 2008, when Hey Jeune (Brendon Hearps) and Done and Dusted (Allen Browell) ran in the race won by the Michael Kent-trained Banana Man.
Full cup field: Angel of Truth (Gwenda Markwell) 58kg; Raheen House (William Haggas) 58kg; Patrick Erin (Chris Waller) 57kg; Brimham Rocks (Chris Waller) 56.5kg; Captain Cook (Chris Waller) 56kg; Volkstok'n'barrell (Danny O'Brien) 56kg; Sully (Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young) 54.5kg; Bondeiger (Ciaron Maher and David Eustace) 54kg; Sin to Win (David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig) 54kg; Hang Man (Michael Moroney) 54kg; Top of the Range (Michael Moroney) 54kg; Kilimanjaro (Ciaron Maher and David Eustice) 54kg; Single Handed (Nick Smart) 54kg; Rupture (Paul Preusker) 54kg; Creedence (David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig) 54kg; Super Girl (Josh Julius) 54kg.
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